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82. Matfen

start: Kenton Bank Foot
distance: 41 miles
OS map: 87, 88

[thanks to Aiden Wrenn for this route. It doesn't actually go into Matfen, but it does go past East Matfen Medieval Village - hence the name...]

Matfen route mapStart at Twin Farms Pub at Kenton Bank Foot. This is on Ponteland Rd. (B6918) close to its junction with Brunton Rd., about 100m north west of Bankfoot Metro Station.

Head NW on B6918 towards Woolsington. After about 1km TL into Green Lane; there is a bridle path sign post. Follow this into Black Lane and cross the Metro line (Take Care!). Follow the path and cross the bridge over the A696 Woolsington by-pass. Shortly after turn sharp right heading north west again running parallel to the by-pass. The path turns sharp left after about 800m skirting around a pond.

Stay on this path for a further 1200m to join a country lane just south of Butterlaw and TL. Shortly after TR onto another path just past a converted school house and follow this path to the B6324 Stamfordham Rd. TR then immediately TL onto a bridle path heading due south for about 600m then TR onto North Walbottle Road.

This road bends sharp left, turn right off this bend towards Fell House Farm (signposted) and follow this down to an underpass below the A69. Take care here as there is much broken glass. Head south into Throckley Dene. Follow the path keeping to the left into the woods. From there straight on to cross Hexham Road at Walbottle Dene bridge and down through Throckley Dene.

Emerge on to the main road, turn right and follow it down the hill to a T-junction. At the junction go straight on through a gap in the wall and then turn right onto the riverside path. Follow it for about 5.5km past Stephenson's Cottage (worth a look in).

Go under 2(?) bridges then turn left back up and over the bridge you've just gone under. Head up to the main road and turn left. Keep left at the T junction and head west out of Wylam. Turn right up the signed bridle path at Tynewood about 1.5km further on. Ride up through the woods on tarmac at first then left off-road into the woods. Emerge onto a disused road and on up to Horsley Wood Cottages. Keep going on Mill Way to Horsley. At the main road in the village turn left on the B6528. Follow it towards the intersection with the A69, but turn right for Harlow Hill just before it.

At the top of the climb turn left and head west along the Military Road (B6318) . Take great care on this stretch of road as traffic often travels very fast indeed. After just over 1km turn right onto the B6309. Turn left onto the bridle path 600m further on. Follow this through (or over, if you don't fancy it) the stream then up through East Moorhouses farm onto the road and turn left. Keep to the right around the next bend and head north through the site of East Matfen Medieval Village.

Keep going north to the T junction and turn right onto the Reivers' route heading east. The path forks just south of Pea Hill, take your pick, the one to the left is a better surface, but both ways lead to the same road where you turn right and follow the road into Stamfordham. At the far end of the village turn left at the T junction up the hill on the B6309 to The Heugh and turn right and follow the road to Dalton then about 1km further turn left at the T junction, still on the Reivers' route. Take the next right onto Limestone Lane. Some friends of mine once came across Jack Charlton out walking his dogs at this junction. He held up the (non-existent) traffic for them! So this junction is now known among us Jack Charlton corner.

After about 1.6km, just after some big overhead power lines turn right onto a disused railway bed. Depending on the recent weather this can be a very rough path and deserves more than a little respect. Keep left at the end and at the road turn right, then left after 50m turn left onto the path through Darras Hall Estate. At the back of the shops keep to the left and skirt around the side of the building, cross over the road and jink right then left following the signposted bridle path.

On into the centre of Ponteland and the north at the traffic lights between the pub and the restaurant still on the Reivers'. At the outskirts of Dinnington, stay on the road, leaving the Reivers' route where it turns left. Keep on through the village, past the east end of Newcastle Airport runway.

Past the first turning on the left, then turn left onto the bridal path 300m further on. After a little over 1.5km turn right at the cross roads and follow the path to emerge on Brunton Lane. Cross the road and down the path keeping to the left through the gate along the disused railway. At the end turn right and follow the path through the underpass with the burn on your right and across the green to the road (Acomb Crescent) and go right up the hill to T junction and turn right into Caldwell Road. At the next T-junction turn left into Belsay Gardens.

At Kingston Park Road turn right. Straight over the roundabout above the Western by-pass and on to the next roundabout and turn left onto Brunton Lane. Take the first right into Brunton Road, past the rugby ground, turn right at the T-junction and back to the Twin Farms.

aiden wrenn, northumberland

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