Swansfield

In 1889 Skelly wrote:

Few towns in the kingdom are so favourably situated for scenery and beautiful walks as Alnwick. It makes little difference what part of the town you are situated in, for, from any point,you may with little trouble find your way to wander amongst glens and waterfalls, or in the more open breezes of cultivated fields and moorland scenery“.

The last two routes described by Skelly both start on Clayport. Since he wrote much has changed around the corner of Clayport and Lisburn Street. Beyond that, though, both routes can still be followed. Today we might want to incorporate some other options.

Formerly, a very pleasant footpath went from the top of the south side of Clayport, through Wiloughby’s fields, and joined the main road near to the entrance of Swansfield. Another skirted the east part of the same field, going by way of Belle Vue, Hope House, Stoney Hills, Greensfield, &c, joining the Rugley road on Alnwick Moor“.

In 1869 the board of Health reported on a section of footpath beyond the first section that Skelly described:

A footway from the top of Clayport on the south side of the gateway below Swansfield is in good repair. That portion from the said gate to the upper gate leading onto the moor is repaired by the owner of Swansfield and is in good condition, but that portion from thence to the Intake which this board is liable to maintain is greatly in need of repair.

At the same time they reported on the beginning of Skelly’s second route, which starts with the Summer Seats footpath, from Lisburn Street to Hope House.

The footway which extends from Hope House along the top of the field adjoining Swansfield Park to Willoughby cottage, and passing behind Belle Vue and thence to Clayport, is in tolerable state of repair.

Skelly doesn’t mention the public footpath that runs between the Dunterns, through the allotments and across the field to Hope House. The allotments had been laid out in 1873 so they would already exist when Skelly was writing. And the footpath pre-dated the allotments. In 1869 the Board of Health reported:

The footway leading across the same field from Hope House and terminating in Hope House lane is also in good state of repair.

This footpath is still a public right of way. There are other paths in the area that Skelly doesn’t mention, but part of the route that he described is no longer a public right of way. Those exploring this area for the first time should take care to understand the changes. There is a map of rights of way <here>.

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