Norhumberland, history, childhood memories, 1940s
By Bill Charlton
Cairnglastenhope – a great kids' adventure
Going back a couple of years before the 1939-1945 war started, my Dad (Bob Charlton) planned a great adventure for us kids (me and brother Cliff and our cousin Tom Thompson). It was to cross over the fells and visit Cairnglastenhope Lake being 5 to 6 miles distant from the Croft.
So one Sunday spring morning we all set off over Dunterley Fell with our packed lunches heading west towards the Mesling Crags, crossing over the moors covered in Bent grass. We all chatted away to each other enjoying our hike toward the Lake,
Then coming across lots of depressions in the ground, Dad explained that years ago people dug these holes to extract coal from quite shallow seams, and worked them out to a radius of about 6 to 8 feet. They then moved on another 20 ft or so and started another new shaft. Over the years all these shafts eventually caved in to form a crater-like depression, all covered in Bent grass good cover for foxes to hide.
After a while we needed a bit of a rest, so sitting down on a bit of a ridge to have a drink, Tom asked Dad what the bones were he saw. Dad very coyly said that someone had stopped for a rest once, and that was all that was left of him (or her).
Needless to say we kept plodding on over the fells past Watson’s Walls and on towards the Lake called ‘Cairnglastenhope’ where we had lunch and a good rest, feeding the hundreds of seagulls which were nesting on the very tufted boggy ground at one end of the lake covered in rushes,
We managed to collect a couple of eggs and blew them to add to my collection, which my Uncle had given me to treasure. We got great delight in feeding the gulls with bread crusts by throwing them in the air for them to catch in flight.
The older lads from the Chirdon side used to collect the eggs by having a long cane rod with a spoon tied on the end as the area was very spongy and soft. I believe the eggs were used to keep the fox hounds in good fettle for hunting. Our return journey was a great sense of achievement and lots to tell our Mother once we were home again. We often went for long walks over the fells on Sunday mornings with Dad while our Mother baked scones, cakes, and Gooseberry and Rhubarb tarts in the oven before preparing Sunday dinner for all of us. We were a much loved and well fed lot of kids.