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The best is kept for the return section to Allendale to see evidence of Isaac Holden’s inspirational presence. What is remarkable is that so much has survived over the last two hundred years. The tenement at Redheugh was Isaac’s birth place in Mohope. While only a short distance further is the stark profile of the tailings of the Keirsleywell Mine overlooked from the hostel. Where Isaac worked as an 8 year old child sorting ore and a few short years later joined his brother and father as a miner in a family partnership.
A hard life but no different to the population at large before he had a welcome change of fortune, when he tried his hand at selling tea door to door. After his marriage Isaac and Anne settled in Mohope at Ninebanks before moving on to Wentworth Terrace in Allendale where prospects were better.
St. Mark’s Church, Ninebanks is where Isaac’s parents and his older brother Jonathan were buried. Just down the road is the restored hearse house (purpose built for the horse drawn hearse). This was sombre venture was his last having raised the necessary funds shortly before his own death in 1857. There is no missing the old school buildings, where he presented with pride his hearse to the waiting public at the same time as the official opening of the schools. Be sure to visit the hearse house where walkers can also to put their names’ in the visitors’ book.
Isaac was lucky, for just when lead mining was at a low ebb in the 1830s, the market for tea was growing year on year. The success of the Holden enterprise probably owes more than a little to custom from the extended Holden family in the neighbourhood. Neither should it be underestimated the insatiable demand for tea from this staunchly Methodist community. Around Ninebanks alone where six temperance oriented Methodist chapels keen to promote tea with the quip, “the drink that cheers but does not inebriate”.
The trail follows the path made by other travellers making calls to the house holds around Whitfield and on towards Keenley. It is a route that crosses the divide between the West Allen and East Allen before following the river side path back with time for a celebratory pot of tea.
From Ninebanks the route then climbs away up the fell towards Dryburn and briefly meets the road on Leadgate Bank and continues into Monk Wood part of the Whitfield Estate. Before taking another climb out of the West Allen valley and over to the East Allen past Keenley Chapel. First visited by John Wesley in 1746 and is now the oldest chapel in continuous use in the world. The path continues to drop steadily down, where sheep and cattle graze for a riverside walk back alongside the River East Allen to Allendale. The impressive obelisk to his memory in St Cuthbert’s can be admired before you return to Isaac’s Well.
Accommodation and refreshments are available in Allendale
Distance: 15km, 9.5 miles. Allow 4.5 hours
Max height: 175m Min height: 348m Total Climb: 406m
Route Changes / Points to Note: None at the moment.
YHA Ninebanks to Leadgate Bank (6.08 km or 3.77 miles)
From Ninebanks Youth Hostel turn right down the road and turn left at the bend before Park House and round the usually open gate down to the next bend and enter the drive for Redheugh Cottage. Continue around the inside perimeter hedge and out to cross the field and above the rock strewn Mohope Burn on the right.
Follow through the open gate, if dry and the ladder stile, if wet and muddy and along the broad ridge before the drop down over the tributary Blind Burn, below an ash tree. Follow the path by the burn to near Malakoff Bridge. Turn left at the road and right at the junction before Blackpool Bridge over the River West Allen. At the end of the bridge go sharp right up steps to the bank beneath the trees to meet the Ninebanks – Carrshield Road.
After visits to Ninebanks Church and the hearse house return to the trail. The route continues left briefly beside the fence and then crosses the road, up a stile in the wall with loose stones. Then through a green metal kissing gate with a footpath sign for the trail also to Mount Pleasant. Continue up the path, next to the tarmac track with good views back over the Mohope valley and the ground already walked.
Look out for the marker posts pointing to the ladder stile in the drystone wall in the top far corner. Once over the stile continue along the wall on your left and along and climb over the next stile a short distance ahead. A couple of tall yellow capped marker posts show the way through extensive clumps of soft reed and out by the field gate near Pasturehead. Continue close by the track past Far Dryburn. Then over a short wet and muddy section before the path drops steeply down to the Dryburn footbridge. Cross over and keep left up to the next stile and climb up and across to the right side of a solitary alder tree. Further on is an open sided stone bridge to the marker post by the track, which passes properties to the left before the road at Leadgate Bank.
Leadgate Bank to Keenley Green (3.97 km or 2.47 miles)
Cross the road and drop down a few yards and follow the trail footpath sign, below Newhouses through the wicket gate and then on over a stile and drop down to the right of a property. At the next gate with a wall stile follow further down across the field and climb gently back over to other side, where another path intersects to the right and upwards. Keep left through the field gate ahead and below the property above on your right with a short distance to the field gate with a trail logo on your right.
Follow the track only as far down as a marker post. Take the path back up towards the drystone wall to the wooden gate into Monk Wood. Carry on the track through the plantation as far as The Monk farm. Turn right at the footpath sign post through the field gate up to a wicket gate over reeds and tussocks, up and below the power lines to a kissing gate half way up.
Climb on upto the top at Harlow Bower between the farm and the barn on the right. A short distance on lookout for where the footpath crosses the farm access track. Turn right and continue along over stiles until you meet the road, below Quarry House at Keenley Green.
Keenley Green to Allendale – Isaac’s Well (6.28 km or 3.90 miles)
Turn left over the stile on to the road and walk to the cross road by Keenleywell House. Turn right along the road before the trail sign left down past Keenley Chapel. Follow down past the chapel, unfasten the iron gates, if they are closed. Then down to the wooden gate into a narrow copse as far as the beech hedge and over the stile.
Keep left and continue along the fence line and tree shelter belt and over the track past Chapel House down to the stile at the bottom and on above the Crockton Burn. Keep left and along at the footpath intersection with a signed marker post. A little further is a wicket gate down and then a drop through mixed woodland to cross the burn at Maggie’s Bridge.
Follow the River East Allen footpath right upstream through Bridge Eal and fields beyond to Tommy Stout’s Wood. A diversion now leads up and around the side of the wood to drop down flights of steps into the wood and onto the road at Allen Mill Bridge. Turn left over the road bridge then immediately right to follow the riverside footpath all the way to the road before re-tracing steps back up the peth. This time follow the other side of the Market Place to Isaac Holden’s memorial in the churchyard behind the Allendale Cooperative Society and back to Isaac’s Well.