A recent outing for the Launchpad Wanderers took us from Crawcrook to Greenside and then back. The countryside was quite lovely, the most memorable stretch of the walk being a long disused road called Coalway Lane.
Like so much of the North-East, the Greenside, Crawcrook locale is steeped in industrial heritage. At the start of the 20th Century there were collieries galore. The landscape bristled with them, great, black, stark pit wheels everywhere to be seen. Coalway Lane was, as its name suggests, used to transport coal from the pits in the Greenside area. That was a long time ago, however. Now it is an overgrown track, rugged, rocky and, if it has been raining, a gushing stream.
I have walked Coalway Lane on several occasions and in all weathers. It climbs steeply from Crawcrook, up, up the valley, through dense forestation and thick undergrowth. You scramble down into the deep shadowy crevice that is the lane, clambering over mighty boulders and the moss covered roots of old, old trees. Down there, in the rocky vein that is the disused road, there are broken bits of stone, once the road surface. But in amongst them are wild flowers and grass. Nature slowly reclaims her own.
Views of the Tyne Valley become ever more spectacular, the higher you climb, a great, green bowl in the earth. Beyond that, hills heave up like the shoulders of a giant.
The day Darren and I walked Coalway Lane, it was a bright and fairly warm day. It was clear that spring was on the way, winter on the wane. The terrain was quite rugged and challenging and we did well, to trek down, down the rocky trench that is the collapsed road. ‘What tales could it tell!’ I thought.
Alas, Coalway Lane will keep its secrets to itself, but it makes for great walking!