I visited Detchant recently where I first stayed over 20 years ago and have enjoyed walking regularly since.
As I started a walk from the cottages in the hamlet I witnessed what is now a common occurrence, two huge lorries manoeuvring to pass each other. I couldn’t help but reflect on how much had changed over the years and especially more recently.
I set off up the narrow road to Greymare. I used to love a quiet walk up this lane which I believe is also a bridleway used by horse riders, hikers and cyclists (now the road forms part of a newly-designated Sandstone Way cycle route from Berwick to Hexham).
Recently it has deteriorated into a potholed speedway for the numerous articulated lorries that go up and down to the Bedmax industrial plant every day.
Unfortunately, during the time it took me to walk up the hill I was twice forced to jump up onto the narrow verge between the road and the fence as wagons raced past.
Also, on the way and especially as I walked over the brow at the top of the road, I started to hear the loud drone from the Bedmax factory and the smoke that billowed from the chimney hung in the air.
I walked as fast as I could past the noise and smell and up to the top of the track looking back to the panoramic view towards the coast.
If only there hadn’t been a cloud of smoke to spoil this lovely view of Holy Island and the Farne Islands. Unfortunately the same applies when looking from Holy Island and the coast towards Greymare.
Behind me was the wild open view over Middleton Burn towards St Cuthbert’s Cave which is the proposed site for the Middleton Burn windfarm. Let’s hope it never gets planning permission.
Turning right along St Cuthbert’s Way towards Detchant Woods I noticed that since I last walked up here the entire length of the path up to the woods had had the surface mechanically removed. I wonder what the reason for this is? What was once a grassy path was now just a mud bath. As I was no longer able to walk along the path, I was forced to continue along the side of the field.
The walk down through the woods was the same as it had always been except, instead of the silence only broken by the odd pheasant, I could still hear the drone from Bedmax. The air was also thick with the wood pulp smell. All right if you like that smell. I personally don’t like it inflicted on me when I’m trying to enjoy a walk in the fresh air.
As I walked on through the woods towards the Detchant to Fenwick road, the noise and smell gradually lessened.
Apart from the sight of the smoke over the factory at Greymare, I enjoyed the rest of my walk back to Detchant and reflected on how much more enjoyable this walk used to be.
Bedmax is a successful business which creates employment for local people but many now feel it has outgrown its present location. The negative effects it is having on the local community and tourism in the area should not be underestimated.
I really can’t understand why such a prestigious company doesn’t relocate to a more suitable location in Northumberland where it would create less environmental and personal disruption, be able to expand and create even more employment.