In the valley south of Juniper, Devil’s Water runs north east towards Corbridge where it joins the Tyne.  Hall Burn that gently flows down from Dukesfield to join Devil’s Water once turned mighty waterwheels which powered a lead ore smelt mill.  On a bright spring afternoon when everywhere is bright fresh green and dappled light, it is hard to imagine this as the setting for such industry.  Operational from the late 17th century until 1835, it was one of the largest smelt mills in the country.  The Dukesfield Arches are all that remain:

... Dukesfield Smelt Mill

Walk a half mile up the hill adjacent to the burn and you reach Dukesfield Hall parts of which date from the seventeenth century when it was the smelt mill agent’s house. A bothy opposite the main hall once stabled the packhorses which brought lead ore to the site from across the north Pennines. The drovers slept in the loft above the stables.

... Slaley, Northumberland
The bothy ...

The bothy loft above the stables probably offered less than salubrious accommodation for the drovers but much has changed over the centuries. The Grade 2 listed Dukesfield Hall is now a thriving farm and Bed & Breakfast offering “Charming en-suite rooms, guest lounge with a log fire and a friendly atmosphere”. Your average drover would be astonished.

... Dukesfield Hall farm

... Dukesfield Hall farm

... Middle Dukesfield

The last image is from Middle Dukesfield some 400 yards to the east.

Much of the information for this post was gleaned from the excellent leaflet “Dukesfield Arches & Devil’s Water” produced by Friends of the North Pennines.

Finally, that barn roof looks broken to me 🙂
(click on the images to enlarge).


In another attempt to dust off the cobwebs and stretch the trousers we embarked on a walk around Juniper on New Year’s Day; it was a dull morning threatening yet more rain across the Shire.  Juniper is a delightful, rural hamlet which achieved some local notoriety in 2010; this article appeared in the the Hexham Courant on 1st April of that year:

A Hexhamshire hamlet is changing its name in order to cash in on the millions of a sixties superstar. The tiny community of Juniper will in future be known as Jennifer Juniper, following a request from hippy hero Donovan. Cash-strapped Northumberland County Council is understood to have agreed to the name change in return for a £5 million donation to council coffers. The denim-decked singer made a fortune in the 1960s from songs like Catch the wind, Universal Soldier, Mellow Yellow and Sunshine Superman, but his personal favourite was always Jennifer Juniper. He took a tour of Tynedale whilst staying at Slaley Hall and fell in love with the quaint hamlet of Juniper. He spotted a dappled mare grazing in a field and just wanted to be part of the place. Villagers have reported being offered large wads of cash for their properties but no-one was prepared to move out of the close-knit community. A consultation exercise on the name change is being carried out by the county council, but comments had to be in by noon yesterday.

It was a quiet morning, just one horse and rider struggling up the steep bridle path from Devil’s Water and in the woods, evidence of avian tragedy:

The woods near JuniperThe woods near JuniperThe woods near JuniperThe woods near JuniperThe woods near JuniperThe woods near Juniper

(click on images to enlarge)