Renewal Day – Walk to the Chimneys

Armed with an Ordinance Survey map, my strongest pair of reading glasses and John Barker’s Adventuring into the Allendales I set forth to walk to the chimneys. For so many years I’d driven past them on the way to Allendale, Hexham and Newcastle but I’d never ventured out onto the moors to get up close.

I started my hike from Allendale having caught a ride with a group going into Hexham for business and medical appointments. The weather was a bit iffy and I went prepared for what ever might come my way. Rain, hail, wind or snow.

Allendale had a smelting mill, Allen Mill, where lead ore from the Dale was smelted for over two centuries up until 1897. So that the noxious gasses produced by the smelting process at the mill, which was sited close to habitation and grazing, two underground tunnels were constructed which acted as flues. These carried the gasses two miles up hill to the chimneys. They were cleaned each year and the deposit or ‘Fume’ was so rich in lead that not only did it cover the cost of the flue building – a profit was also made! To my mind the engineering and the amount of labour involved in constructing these flues was incredible.

The two flumes divide at this point, the chimney is a speck on the skyline.

Looking back down the line of the flume with part of the tunnel exposed here.

This is a ‘finger post’ pointing the way. There is a very extensive system of public footpaths and bridleways in Britain. And now we have Access Land too which means there are even more places one can walk off roads.
Out onto the moor and onto the old ‘Carriers Way’ along which the Galloway ponies carried ore and building materials from Dale to Dale.

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Each stone in the chimney is slightly curved, it’s a work of skilled craftsmanship. Two miles away in the distance is Allendale Town.

It’s fairly hard going up on the wild Northumbrian Moors.

Frog with spawn, note the blurred left leg. One has to be quick to catch a a photo of these little critters.

A Wesleyan Chapel built in 1853, sited on the road between Ninebanks and Allendale.

After the Chimneys I continued on for a couple more hours ending up in not quite the place I’d intended. Ninebanks to be precise. High winds to be sure and rain only as I approached the monastery, four hours after I started.

Many thanks to John Barker’s and his wonderful hand written guide book. It was written in 1990 and I don’t know if they are still available. I’ve used some of his words in this post.

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4 thoughts on “Renewal Day – Walk to the Chimneys”

  1. Yes indeed, hard lives. And talking to one of the monks here this afternoon I discovered that we have a growing population of sparrows. Due I believe to her efforts to put out bird food, year round.

  2. Wonderful – thank you for this and for the photographs. Feel like I was almost there (but a bit warmer!) Isn’t it odd that what would now be regarded as an atrocious act of pollution gets smoothed away by time into something quite different?

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