This is a personal blog mainly to do with hillwalking things but with other stuff as well.....maybe the odd rant..
Monday, 2 December 2013
Clearing the Path to the Pearly Gates
At Brandon, just a bit South of Durham, there’s a badly overgrown path which was once the railway line from Pit House Colliery down the hill to the main lines around Langley Moor. This was last penetrated, apparently, about seven years ago although it’s been difficult to walk for, maybe, ten or fifteen years. At the top of this jungly lane there was once a level crossing which had a small red hut which contained the crossing keeper and a few old chaps keeping him company and sharing his fire which was always lit, no matter what the weather, apparently due to the fact the the hut door was always open to allow the keeper to keep an eye out for trains. The crossings were known locally as “The Pearly Gates” and the location has kept the name although, it seems that the reason may be fading from local memory. Today, I joined some Durham County Council volunteers and some Brandon village residents to bash and cut our way through this tangle and to mend a couple of stiles. The idea, of course, is to restore the path as an amenity – and a very nice walk it should make, too. Two volunteers attacked a stile – actually, two stiles were attacked, but the fence holding one of them up was found to be rotten and needing replacement, so, not having the timber available , it had to be left. The other stile was replaced. Another party attacked the gorse and dense vegetation from the Pearly Gates downhill and three or four of us attacked the (mainly) dense and dangerously prickly hawthorn up the hill towards the pearly gates.
A party had been here previously and had cleared several metres and we added quite a bit to the cleared area. Another offensive is due to be launched by Brandon residents at the weekend. (I may go to help!) I must say that this is quite hard work, but its a bit addictive and once I start cropping and chopping and cutting and slashing, I find it difficult to stop. But it started going dark and others had had enough of the thorns, so we stopped. I expect that the Brandon residents will probably achieve a link up between the Pearly Gates and the new stile All activities were attended by a cock robin, to whom I donated some small crumbs of cheese, chocolate bun and some brown bread. When the path is open, those taking their doggies for a walk in the night, might like to consider that in 1929, a steam engine being trialled following repairs, ran out of control down this hill , left the tracks and killed the four men in the cab by scalding them to death. Just sayin’….