Walks in North Shields No. 2

When the bluebells are up the air is scented and wonderful.

I leave home in Upper Reed Street and walk along Tynemouth Road to Christ Church, turning right to Preston Road, past what was the Preston Hospital and Workhouse, then on towards Preston Village.  The farm on the right was once Jackson’s farm and later taken over by the Bruntons.  The village school has a path leading to it and the path continues to emerge at the Fox Hunters Public House. Later this was demolished, and a new larger and modern hotel of that name was built.  The road on the left has a long line of tall trees making the road in summer really pleasant.

At the first turning we are really in the countryside of farms, fields or pastureland.  There are two openings, long country roads going on to New York village.  One of these, Rake Lane, is now the site for the very modern and big hospital but on the northern side are still farms and cornfields.  New York village has old type houses, the toilets outside, and across the lane and a lot of miners live there.  There is a hotel that was a staying place, The Dun Cow, and the Club, a place where villagers congregated and sampled the brews.  Any stranger moving in took almost three years to become a villager but then they were staunch friends.

We continue the country road to Murton village and on to Shiremoor and The Grey Horse, then turn right into open country, beautiful in the summer.  The air is scented with the fields of corn, barley and oats and poppies showing scarlet.  The turnips fields are often pillaged by youngsters who steal a turnip.

At the junction end we hit Seaton Delaval, the name going back to the time of William the Conqueror, the seat of De Laval who was rewarded for his help in subduing the northerners who helped King Harold.  Near the Red Lion we can continue down the slope to the Beehive and Hollywell Dene, but today I take a field path that goes for 2½ miles or so, over stiles at times or swing gates.

This comes out eventually at Whitehouse Lane near Rake Lane and we return home at the top of Preston village past the very large and well-kept cemetery.  The floral beds are magnificent and large tracks of the cemetery still grow bluebells and snowdrops in huge drifts.  When these are up the air is scented and wonderful.  The main road in the cemetery is roses and more roses, and at the top are the graves of servicemen who died for the country in 1914 and later in 1939-45.  And there are Germans buried there too.  The bulk of a mill looms there, it was used as a lookout during the later war when this area of North Shields was bombed.  Over a 120 of its citizens are buried here, including my sister-in-law and three children.

Gradually, as we turn homewards the fields and open spaces give way to houses and soon we come to the site of Tynemouth Infirmary and the Spring Garden pub.  Over the wall is a pond with goldfish in.  And now past the old cemetery we return past Christ Church, finishing back in North Shields with its picture halls and mile of shops from Bird Street to Charlotte Street and Saville Street.

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