Cloudy on the coast but as we headed inland towards Bishop Auckland the sun cam out and we had a glorious day. We steered clear of the main built up areas and soon found ourselves heading north via tiny back roads through highly variable terrain, and by the side of the road were many abandoned farmhouses , fallen into rack and ruin.
I stopped to photograph one, startling the sheep who had taken refuge in the shell of one of the buildings.
The main farmhouse itself was in no better case, crumbling and collapsing back into the landscape from which it came.
The views from the farmyard are superb, and by the way the gates are still in good condition, the land has been absorbed into a bigger farm property, so at least it is still cared for.
Further views from the same hilltop road made me wonder why the area hadn't attracted someone to rescue the farm: it had so much potential!
As usual I was attracted by the wild flowers growing by the road, we fond one that looked very like a thistle, but it wasn't as it lacked the spikes: Pat looked it up in her "Readers Digest Wild flowers" book and identified it as "Common Knapweed" (so common we had never seen it before!)
Passing the village of Rookhope we spotted the ruins of a single arh in a field, where it couldn't possibly have been part of a viaduct and then we spotted this plaque that explained it all: apparently there were several arches and on top of them a sloping flue from the lead smelting furnace carried the smoke and fumes across the river and road to enter a mile long tunnel in the hill leading to a tall chimney.
Water ran along the flue and washed the lead out into storage tanks, and there were doors at intervals where small boys could go in and scrape the highly poisonous but valuable lead deposits off the flue walls!
Health and Safety? hardly!! another piece of industrial history and not a good example of humanity to others!
Half a mile further down the road we came to the Mine itself, now rusting and forlorn, and a good thing too!
We stopped for lunch at a place called "Hadrian Fisheries" as we spotted a cafe sign, only to find to our surprise that it was in fact not a chippie, but a fishing pond with a cafe attached, but the lady opened up the cafe for us and did a splendid all day breakfast and we watched a school party outside learning to fish: (or at least learning to be patient!)
When we arrived at Housesteads we found to our disgust that the car park fee was £4 for the day, so remembering that this was the same charge as for one of the excellent all day breakfasts we had just eaten we decided to pass on that, so we set off home: the tour itself had been excellent, and we were ready to come back anyway.
After tea I walked down to Crimdon Dean and found that it too had a plaque explaining that between the world wars it had been a little resort in it's own right, where there is now just a stream and beach there had been putting greens, chalets and amenities and they had even had an annual Miss Crimdon Dean contest for many years.
There is a very good beach here backed with high dunes, and the waves would make for excellent surfing (for those so inclined!)
And finally I spotted yet another variety of thistle: this one I'm advised is a "Marsh Thistle"
Anyway the bees certainly seemed to like it