On Bale Hill

Sometimes the unplanned rides are the best.  I just knew I wanted to be on open, high ground as the sky over Hexham was full of promising clouds. Heading south from Blanchland, I found myself riding up Bale Hill towards Stanhope Common and there, on my right, was a scene from Poldark, a chimney rising from an untamed landscape.  Except, this was County Durham, not Cornwall.

The chimney belonged to Presser Pumping Station.  Some of its history was recently revealed by local resident Stanley Wilkinson who lived at the ‘villa’ at The Pressor (sic) from 1935 to 1956:  The 2 shafts and the big building and chimney were built for the lead mines many years prior to our family moving there. It was around 1953 when my father suggested the Durham County Water Board pump water from the old mine workings to augment the Consett water supply. He and I worked down the shaft clearing obstacles and making ready for the pump and piping installation; scary as hell but (we) completed the job. I migrated to Australia in 1964 and have lived in Indonesia for 25 years. (from https://www.geograph.org.uk/)

The clouds did not disappoint while the weather to the west was particularly ominous:

Heavy weather to the west, from Bale Hill – looking towards Townfield and Hunstanworth

Presser Pumping Station

The GS on Bale Hill

This drone flight takes you towards Hunstanworth and then back to the Pumping Station – it is a very fine portrayal of this wild landscape. John Twist, the drone pilot, is standing close to where I took my images.


  1. sustainabilitea · June 10, 2020

    One might venture to say the skies were baleful. 🙂 Beautifully dramatic shots, Robin. Every time I see “Stanhope”, I think of “Vera” and your wife not liking the accents. Ha! Have you ever read any Rosemary Sutcliff? She writes about Roman Britain and some of it is up in your neck of the woods.


    • northumbrianlight · June 11, 2020

      Many thanks Janet – an interesting exchange on Twitter re NE accents this morning (Dan Jackson is the author of The Northumbrians): https://twitter.com/northumbriana/status/1270784952297283587?s=09
      I haven’t read any Rosemary Sutcliff but I really should. Heavily into A Race With Love and Death by Richard Williams at the moment – the story of Britain’s first great grand prix driver.

      • sustainabilitea · June 11, 2020

        Ha, that was a good exchange. Made me smile.

  2. J.D. Riso · June 11, 2020

    Oh that sky. ☁️☁️☁️

    • northumbrianlight · June 12, 2020

      Quite something isn’t it, Julie. One of my better decisions to head for the high moors 🙂

  3. Thom Hickey · June 14, 2020

    Ah.. The open road…

    Regards Thom

  4. Geri Lawhon · June 15, 2020

    I love the drone video. It makes me want to go out and buy one.

    • northumbrianlight · June 15, 2020

      Great isn’t it – John Twist has done a whole series of drone flights across County Durham – I recommend subscribing.

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