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Travel North - 44: View to the River South Tyne - Former Railway Byway in Rural Northumberland

Updated on May 11, 2019

Lambley, the railway viaduct over the South Tyne and a healthy walk route for the family

Lambley Viaduct crossed the River South Tyne, taking the railway south from Haltwhistle to Alston in Northumberland
Lambley Viaduct crossed the River South Tyne, taking the railway south from Haltwhistle to Alston in Northumberland | Source
A 'pick-up', branch goods train hauled by LNER Gresley Class J39 returns to Haltwhisle from Alston along branch lines long since ripped up, including this one.
A 'pick-up', branch goods train hauled by LNER Gresley Class J39 returns to Haltwhisle from Alston along branch lines long since ripped up, including this one. | Source
A Brian Johnson photograph of Lambley Station at the south-eastern end of the viaduct. The post (right) is an NER 3/4 mile measurement from the last half-mile post, a quarter mile post before that and so on. Measurements made from a branch datum post
A Brian Johnson photograph of Lambley Station at the south-eastern end of the viaduct. The post (right) is an NER 3/4 mile measurement from the last half-mile post, a quarter mile post before that and so on. Measurements made from a branch datum post | Source
Haltwhistle to Alston Railway route via Lambley and Slaggyford. Quaint sounding names maybe, each with a history and purpose
Haltwhistle to Alston Railway route via Lambley and Slaggyford. Quaint sounding names maybe, each with a history and purpose | Source

A walk in the North Pennines

a designated area of outstanding natural beauty that offers an experience of the area's well-documented bird life and moorland scenery. Follow the South Tyne Trail over the former railway of the Haltwhistle to Alston branch, crossing the protected Lambley Viaduct with its unequalled views along the river and across the surrounding countryside.

The recommended route is to leave the car park at the northern end of the viaduct. Shortly after leaving the car park - the site of Coanwood Station - take the track that leads down towards the river.

See description below
See description below | Source

The railways of rural Northumberland were never profitable once the minerals were worked out. Much of the network aside from the East Coast Main Line between Newcastle Central and Berwick-on-Tweed, and between Newcastle Central and Carlisle disappeared as railway routes. A narrow gauge line was established at Alston, and there are rumours afoot of the reinstatement of the Hexham Branch, the rest make great walking or cycling routes with views to die for. Look through these pages and see what was there, what is with your guide Robert Kinghorn

The car park near Lambley Viaduct on the former Alston railway trackbed - your apt starting point for the railway walk
The car park near Lambley Viaduct on the former Alston railway trackbed - your apt starting point for the railway walk | Source
The River South Tyne near Lambley, a wild part of the county to build a railway
The River South Tyne near Lambley, a wild part of the county to build a railway | Source
Lambley Footbridge below the viaduct - this is where you cross the South Tyne on the first leg  of your walk (pardon the pun)
Lambley Footbridge below the viaduct - this is where you cross the South Tyne on the first leg of your walk (pardon the pun) | Source

Take the track, following behind a house, cross a beck and pass through a field gate. The way crosses diagonally over a field to a stile near the river. Go upstream along the path and cross the footbridge in front of the viaduct and - before you turn left to climb the steps - look up through the high, sweeping brick arches and up to the viaduct's parapet. Take in also the view to the opposite riverbank through the piers. Now you will probably have a crick in the neck with looking up at an impossible angle, (make sure you don't lean too far back) turn and take the steps up through the riverbank woodlands.

At the top of the path where paths cross turn right for a path signed 'Lambley'. Close to a small gate bear right and saunter through woodland close to the river. Pass a row of cottages to reach the road. Now bear left and then sharp right, following a path along another tow of cottages.

Go through the tunnel under the road and cross another field past a solitary sycamore, heading for a kissing gate. Keep going ahead, pass a house to your right and then turn left onto the road.

Lambley Viaduct and the South Tyne

The way down to Burnstones near Slaggyford

Lambley Common - the view across rural Northumberland
Lambley Common - the view across rural Northumberland | Source
The Burnstones bridges where the A689 met the railway, with the viaduct towering over it behind
The Burnstones bridges where the A689 met the railway, with the viaduct towering over it behind | Source

The A689

This is a mostly busy main road (that took traffic from the railways), so be careful. Take the track marked 'Burnstones 3' and follow it along for a little over a mile (2,25km) to the Glendue *Burn with the fence and wall on your right..

Before you reach the Glendue Burn cross a stone stile over the wall, then turn left and carry on following along what is now the Pennine Way (that runs between Derbyshire and the Borders). There is a footbridge next that you cross and keep on ahead. After about a mile (1.5km) you come across a 'finger' post above Side House. Bear left onto the stone track and take that down to the A689 at Burnstones where you see a road bridge and a former railway viaduct askew to one another.

Lambley Railway Walk, the course of the railway is now a foot and cycle path
Lambley Railway Walk, the course of the railway is now a foot and cycle path | Source
Tyne rivers map - the river originates in two different areas as the North Tyne and south Tyne before coming together near Hexham and flowing east past Newcastle and Gaeshead to the North Sea
Tyne rivers map - the river originates in two different areas as the North Tyne and south Tyne before coming together near Hexham and flowing east past Newcastle and Gaeshead to the North Sea | Source

Turn left into the main A689, taking great care again and follow it for around five hundred yards (150 m) to a small car park where you turn left onto the South Tyne Trail - the former railway route to Alston.

The trail takes you through Softley Wood and on to Whitwham Farm.

Before the Old Station House take the path on the right of the railway trackbed signposted 'Lambley and South Tyne Trail - North'. Pass under this and climb up onto Lambley Viaduct.

This is where you take in the wonders of the scenery, pose for photographs and stand dreaming of better times when the trains crossed this first rate piece of North Eastern Railway railway architecture and engineering. (Take a look at the top of this page again, at the view of the viaduct with its goods train crossing).

From here you carry on along back to the start at the site of Coanwood Station.

This was Slaggyford Station after closure and the track had been lifted
This was Slaggyford Station after closure and the track had been lifted | Source
Platform face, no buildings left and coping stones taken away
Platform face, no buildings left and coping stones taken away | Source
The South Tyne Trail near Lambley, near where you regain the viaduct
The South Tyne Trail near Lambley, near where you regain the viaduct | Source
The view from the viaduct of the River South Tyne on the return to the car park
The view from the viaduct of the River South Tyne on the return to the car park | Source

© 2013 Alan R Lancaster

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    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

      5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Okay John, you know where to find the pages when you scroll down the Profile list. Plenty of history and images for you!

    • JPB0756 profile image

      Robert A. Joseph 

      5 years ago

      As writing on "Hub Pages" legally(in the U.S.) is regarded as, in effect, a "D.B.A.," my moniker(s), work(s), et. al., are differing, but identify same, respectively, for legal and tax purposes. I am, in real life, J.P.B., my initials, plus a numerical sequence relevant to me; all for specific necessities, as I bet you know of, also. I need these, I do not hide behind them. Looking forward to more reading! An aside; actual writing poses several problems for me; perhaps resolution will change. I love railway modeling, but have not worked on any set; still, my eyesight is fine, please show as mush as you like. John.

    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

      5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello JPB (whatever that stands for). There are a few railway-oriented Hub-pages on this site, mostly further south in North Yorkshire around my own neck of the woods.

      Interested in railway modelling? There's also a series under the heading 'Rites of Passage for a Model Railway', from planning to running.

      Let's see something of your observations on your site...

    • JPB0756 profile image

      Robert A. Joseph 

      5 years ago

      Sir, you make me pine for England. As a lover of trains and beauty, I was mesmerized with your tour! Very enjoyable, comfortable trip, too. Thank you. I'll be back! No "Arnold" quip intended.

    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

      5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello again Bill. Railways have been shut down and ripped up here since the late 19th century, for that see 38-40 in this series (Guisborough branch). A lot in my area were closed down in the 1950s and 1960s, and between the Tyne and the Humber. In the mid-60's Dr Richard Beeching was appointed by Harold MacMillan's Transport Minister Ernie Marples to chair the 'rationalisation' of British Railways. Marples had a (dormant) vested interest in road transport. In his favour he was MacMillan's 'can-do' man and instituted the building of motorways to ease congestion on our outdated road system.

      For model-making, have a look at the 'RITES OF PASSAGE...' series, and the 'alancaster149' Gallery and Blog on the British Railway Modelling's website www.rmweb.co.uk. There's an active forum on that site as well and plenty of material to look at for ideas.

      10-4.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      We see more and more of this here in the States....old tracks torn up and paths made for walking and cycling. Interesting to see it done there as well. Thanks for the tour; beautiful countryside for sure.

      Model railroading is always something I thought I would like to do; a lovely hobby for when I finally slow down and need a hobby. I have no idea when that will be. :)

    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

      5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Glad to know you've enjoyed this one. Now you've got through two, only another thirty-nine to get through, although perhaps less than half of them are railway-orientated.

      There are also - at the last count - twenty-one pages on railway modelling under the heading RITES OF PASSAGE FOR A MODEL RAILWAY.

      A web site over here owned by the publishers of 'British Railway Modelling' known as www.rmweb.co.uk deals with railway model-making. I have a gallery and blog there under the name 'alancaster149' and there is a very active forum.

    • Jason Matthews profile image

      Jason Matthews 

      5 years ago from North Carolina

      I love trains and track architecture so I found this hub very fascinating. Most of all I really enjoyed all of the beautiful photos and interesting illustrations you shared. This is a really well done hub. Thank you for sharing!

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