The Wannie Line Walk
One line travelled north towards the town of Rothbury and the other east to Reedsmouth, and although services were sparse, they were very much thanks to Sir Walter Trevelyan of Wallington who saw just how he could generate revenue for the estate by supplying the ever-growing demands of nearby Tyneside.
An easy walk of just over six miles, set off from the old National Trust office in Scots Gap and walk up the side of the field, down the steps and onto the old Wannie Line which you follow just until the line splits, when you need to take the right hand fork towards Rothbury. This 13-mile stretch of track took seven years to build and opened in 1870 with a very limited train service, which dwindled to just two trains per day during World War II, and was finally withdrawn in 1952.
Keep going until you reach Delf Burn where a way marker points you down off the line to follow the stream through the Delf Burn Plantation until you emerge through a gate on the west side. Head uphill following the edge of the field and cross over the next field, keeping the fence on your right hand side.
Climbing over the stile you’ll enter the old quarry with lime kilns on your left, where lime was extracted for use on the estate. Cross over to the kins, follow the wall and make your way to the top of the quarry and turn left once you’ve gone through the gate. You are now heading down hill, cross over the road and go into the field keeping the wall on your right and keep going straight ahead until you see a farm track. Follow the track over the stream and past the cottage and head left. Look out for the ladder stile which you need to climb and then continue through a kissing gate, through woodland and emerge with Chesters Farm on your right. Carry on through the field, through another kissing gate and you’ll see the Wannie Line ahead once again. Turn left onto the line. You’re now on the other branch of the line, which actually ran from Scots Gap to Reedsmouth and opened in 1865. Carry on until you reach the point where the two lines rejoin, where you can return to the car park at Scots Gap.
Walk done, head to The Ox Inn at Middleton, just two miles down the road. This traditional pub with a roaring open fire is hugely popular and for good reason. Dog and family-friendly it serves good pub grub with an imaginative twist and a classic Sunday lunch with all the trimmings. A great place to kick back after a winter walk, grab a seat near the fire if you can, order a decent glass of red from the rather good wine list and watch the world come and go for a while.
Just a touch further in the pretty village of Whalton, The Beresford Arms serves traditional pub grub done well. A recent refurb has seen this popular pub enjoy an overhaul and the menu caters for everyone – there’s a good wine list and lots of real ales, an open fire, and a legendary Sunday roast.