Heighington (pronounced “Hyneton”, we were told) is a village within the borough of Darlington, with a central green, a Norman church and a number of pubs. Twelve participants met on a rather dull Sunday morning on the village green next to the Bay Horse. The parish council’s website mentions the village had been named by a BBC presenter as a perfect village, on its historic and architectural merits.
We set off through some pleasant residential streets and soon reached paths through pastural farmland. We found a few slightly muddy stretches, but we were a hardy bunch and we’d encountered worse on previous occasions.
The country we passed through was characterised by fields, farmsteads and country lanes. We went through the small hamlet of Houghton le Side, crossed more fields. At one point we encountered a friendly solitary pig in a field of sheep. We reached Bolam, where there was a grassy corner on which to pause for our lunchtime sandwiches. Again a quiet settlement; what appeared to have once been the village pub was now holiday cottages and a campsite.
Continuing along more paths and country lanes, we passed at one point close to some fishing lakes. Reaching a final stretch of footpath, we momentarily missed a slightly awkward crossing of a stone wall. We then found ourselves back on the outskirts of Heighington. The walk was perfectly timed for the limited daylight, close to the shortest day of the year.
Throughout our walk, the sun never quite managed to appear. There were one or two moments when we thought it might, and more distant views started to emerge to the west towards the hills on the horizon, but never quite sufficiently for a nice photograph. But our spirits didn’t flag. Some of us even broke out into song at one point, those of us who could remember the words, that is.
Thanks are due to John Younger for hosting today’s walk, and to all those who participated. We learned that John had agreed to take on the role of north-east group coordinator from January next year, so congratulations to him. We assured him of our continuing support and felt confident our group would continue to thrive with many more regular events. Massive thanks also to our retiring coordinators George and Ivor for their contact roles in our group over a period of many years.