River story


The way the river flows

J a m e s L l o yd

The way

the river flows

James Lloyd


I remember learning about rivers in geography. How, through the processes of erosion and deposition, they

formed a landscape of valleys, interlocking spurs, waterfalls, and deltas. I remember my dad saying that the

teachers had it all wrong. Actually, the water followed the path of least resistance to the sea; the river was shaped

by the land. Now I know both are right; the river shapes and is shaped by the landscape.

Like a river, a man also influences and is influenced by, his surroundings.

I could tell you a story of a river. A river that rises on the high moors of Hexhamshire common, flows as the West

Dipton Burn through the steep wooded valley of West Dipton Wood, passing Cat Crags and Queen's Cave to

Dipton Mill, onwards by Red Haugh and Mill Haugh to unite with the Devil's Water, passing under Linnels Bridge

and by Swallowship Hill before reaching Wide Haugh and Dilston Haugh and joining the Tyne.

But I don't know the story. I did try to find it through many trips, map and Bronica in hand and pack on back. I

could string something together, but how do I know what is the truth. The river, like time, appears constant and

yet is ever changing. If I fix it with my camera, is that the river any more than a sample of the water it contains, or

the sand on its bed?

Places contain the visible and invisible marks of history. Stories are kept alive through our common

consciousness recorded in books, maps and the internet.

How can I choose one of the many interlinking trajectories through time and space over any other?

The more I think of it, the less sure I become.

NY 925 606. Bridge over West Dipton Burn. 21/11/2014 15:16

NY 913 607. Tree trunks and fence, West Dipton Burn. 21/11/2014 15:42

Marching overnight, the Yorkists crossed

onto the south bank of the Tyne on the night

of 12th/13th May 1464 and the following

morning they were in a position to attack



NY 975 645. Devil’s Water near junction with Tyne. 23/04/2015 20:05

NY 975 645. Junction of Devil’s Water and Tyne. 23/04/2015 20:23

The Lancastrian army was encamped near Linnels Bridge over Devil's Water, a fast

flowing stream set in a deep cutting, just to the south of Hexham. Despite warnings

from his scouts, Somerset had little time to prepare his troops for battle.

The battle was brief but bloody, the Lancastrians had just taken up their positions

when the Yorkist army charged them from higher ground.

The remnants of Somerset's force were hemmed in and unable to manoeuvre; the

Yorkist troops charged through the opening at the east end of Linnel's Meadow and

engaged the Lancastrian soldiers.


NY 957 623. Levels near Linnels Bridge. 11/04/15 13:18

NY 928 611. West Dipton Burn and meadow. 22/11/2014 09:39

Lancastrian morale quickly collapsed and what remained of the

Lancastrian army was pushed into the Devil's Water by the Yorkist

infantry. A complete rout followed, men either drowned in the river

or were crushed as they tried to climb the steep banks of the river in

the retreat towards Hexham. Most, however, were trapped in West

Dipton Wood on the north bank of the river and were forced to


John Neville had thirty of the leading Lancastrians executed in

Hexham on the evening following the battle, including the Duke of

Somerset and Lord Roos.


NY 953 624. Rope swing, Devil’s Water Gorge. 11/04/2015 12:44

NY 905 616. Fallen tree trunk, West Dipton Burn. 09/04/2015 11:03

NY 896 616. Old milk churn, West Dipton Burn. 09/04/2015 12:38

NY 908 616. Suds, West Dipton Burn. 09/04/2015 12:57

When the victorious Yorkists broke into the camp at Levels, Margaret, seized with mortal terror

for the life of her boy, fled with him on foot into an adjacent forest, where, in momentary dread

of being overtaken by the foe, she pursued her doubtful way by the most unfrequented paths.

When the shades of evening closed round, the fugitive queen and her son crept fearfully from

their retreat, and, uncertain whither to turn for refuge, began to thread the tangled mazes of

the forest. While Margaret, bewildered with doubt and alarm, was considering what course to

pursue, she perceived, by the light of the moon, a robber of gigantic stature advancing

towards her with a drawn sword. Gathering courage from the desperation of her situation,

Margaret took her son by the hand, and presenting him to the freebooter, with the dignity of

look and bearing that were natural to her, she said, "Here, my friend, save the son of your king."

Struck with astonishment at the majestic beauty of the mother and the touching loveliness of

the boy, the robber dropped his weapon at the feet of the royal suppliants, and offered to

conduct them to a place of safety. Taking the prince in his arms, he led the queen to his own

retreat, a cave in Hexham forest, where the royal fugitives were refreshed, and received such

attention as his wife was able to afford.

Strong confirmation is given to this incident by the local traditions of Hexham. The cave which

is still known by the name of Queen Margaret's cave, which is in a most secluded spot on the

south bank of the little rapid stream which runs at the foot of Blackhill.


NY 913 612. Fallen tree with tractor tyre, West Dipton Burn. 09/04/2015 13:07

NY 905 615. Queen’s Cave. 09/04/2015 14:21



ID 75








MAY 11 1976









FEB 1960

NY 906 618. Trees on path above West Dipton Wood. 04/04/2015 16:27

Tributes have been paid to a popular Northumberland pub landlord and brewer who has died.

Geoff Brooker, 67, ran the Dipton Mill Inn with his wife Janet for more than 20 years, and founded the award

winning Hexhamshire Brewery.

“It’s a sad loss,” said Andy Aitchison of the Northern Alchemy brewery in Ouseburn, Newcastle. “He was a one

of the nicest guys and he made some of the very best traditional English beers “

Hexhamshire Brewery was founded a decade ago and produced five beers - Devil’s Elbow, Shire Bitter,

Devil’s Water, Whapweasel and Bah Humbug, the latter of which the firm said was named for its “founder and

ever smiling landlord.”

Devil’s Elbow is a waterfall on the West Dipton Burn, Devil’s Water a nickname for a local stream, and

Whapweasel derived from a term for a Curlew’s whistle.

Cheers beer magazine editor Alistair Gilmour told trade paper the Morning Advertiser that:

“Geoff was the quintessential English pub landlord. He was always ready with great gales of laughter -

especially at his own jokes - and with a twinkle never far from his eye. He and Janet ran the Dipton Mill Inn

superbly and it was always a joy to visit - you invariably left with a big smile on your face. Geoff was a lovely

man and a real source of inspiration for everyone interested in good beer and great pubs.

The North East pub and beer community will miss him enormously.”


NY 929 610. Looking downstream from bridge at Dipton Mill Inn. 20/11/2014 09:37

NY 929 610. Dipton Mill Inn. 03/04/2015 17:26

NY 906 618.Discarded farm equipment on path above West Dipton Wood. 04/04/2015 16:49

NY 935 621. Private bridge over West Dipton Burn. 22/11/2014 10:49

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