My five-mile walk began in Philadelphia. But this Philadelphia isn’t in the USA but on Wearside. During the American War of Independence, a local pit owner named our Philadelphia after the American city, when British troops took it.
Especially enjoyable about walking is finding rural settings in urban areas. Herrington Country Park is one such, reached from Philadelphia via a cycle and walking trail.
I had chosen a good day for the walk; warm sunshine and no sign of rain! So, I enjoyed a relaxed wander past trees and stream, with a breeze gusting through the branches, and a cascade of flowers almost a blizzard.
After maybe half-a-mile, an expanse of hills and fields came into view: The country park. It is crisscrossed by paths, in-fact I was spoilt for choice. I followed one towards the park’s dominant hill, crowned by stone sculptures. I wanted to take a closer look at these.
It’s hard to believe that Herrington Park is built on the site of a colliery, in operation between 1874-1985. At the height of its production, in 1960, the colliery employed 1,766 people, 1,509 of them working underground. When it closed, the colliery had the largest spoil heap in the North-East. And now – there are fields and trees and several lakes.
It was a bit of climb to the hill’s summit. Worth it though for the views, with Penshaw Monument a great black shadow on the skyline. And to the west, hills heaving into the sky and receding back into a far distance.
‘Good place for a break’ I thought, un-shrugging my rucksack and rummaging around for the coffee flask. And so, I sat atop the hill, with the great gaunt stones that ring it, for company. There was a definite autumnal feel to the day. It was in the air and the keen, bright sunlight making the stones glow gently. And the wind, sighing and whispering.
Going down the hill proved a lot easier than climbing it. And a tip here, whenever descending a sharp incline, always lean into it. That way, if you fall, it’s against the hill and not into space!
Having safely negotiated the bank, I followed a broad pathway past the lakes. There were plenty of people, wandering along the shore of the largest. I didn’t blame them, it was a glorious day.
I headed east, past West Herrington. Some enjoyable walking here too, along a quiet grassy trail. It led me to a country road. This rises to an old bridge, which crosses the A19. Away on my left, Hasting Hill jutted into the sky like a giant’s tooth. It’s an historic site. In 1911 archeologists found burial goods dating back some 4,000 years.
My route though led to Middle Herrington, where a pint was much enjoyed at the Board Inn.
The second half of the day’s trek followed the nearby Barnes Burn. This green corridor, right in the heart of Wearside, heads into Barnes Park. Another case of finding unexpected green spaces in urban areas. The park was opened in August 1909, quite historic. It was certainly very pleasant, found somewhere to sit and enjoy my sandwich.
It had been a great walk. Herrington Country Park is well worth a visit. And most memorable, sitting atop the hill with its standing stones.