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Adventures around Doddington Moor in Northumberland, including Buttony, Gled Law and Dod Law

In early august I travelled to Doddington with family to stay for a week. One of the first days out was a lovely trek around doddington moor but the mood lost its momentum after we ran into difficulties locating Gled Law and Buttony coming down from the moorland, away from the golf course. The quest was devastated and we had to leave the rock art behind.

On our final full day we resolved to continue our search for the elusive sites. We parked at the bend above Weetwood Hall and went up the track on Weetwood hill on our way to Gled Law and then up the hill to the pillbox marking the route to the Buttony wood. It was wet but we were quite confident we could find our way approaching from a different angle. When we came to the field gate to carry on the public footpath we were disappointed to see that the field had a dozen or so bulls in it. This rendered the mission impossible; my cousin particularly has a fear of cows. I immediately realised that it wasn't meant to be, after all I had left my trusty walking stick on the backseat of the car.

By now it was raining heavily and my heart was sinking with dread, could I retain the commitment of my mum and auntie jean to carry on as we forge an alternate route to Buttony and leave the elusive Gled Law behind? I grabbed my walking staff and exclaimed to the group that we can't give up without trying. I thrust my hand into the middle of the circle the sheltered huddle of our bodies had formed and eventually we were on our way heading on the road to West Horton albeit after a very tentative placement of hand by my mum. The rain was chucking it down but we strode on.

The plan was to follow the road until we came to a farmer's corn field and then work our way up the edge until we reach the top and would be at the Buttony wood. After a few minutes we were at the gate to the field and we could now inspect whether or not the route was actually viable. It was and we carried on. Auntie jean slowed anxiously on entrance to the farmer's field and mum and I had to dampen down her pondering and uncertainty lest she split up the group and return to the dull comfort of the car. We reasoned that we had no choice given that the public footpath couldn't be crossed and so we climbed on up the fairly steep slope of the field at the side where the grass grew in large bulky clumps. We arched on and I was really glad that we were on our way. I was so soaked that the ink ran out of my black shoes and my toes stayed blue for weeks!

We lurched over another gate and stumbled over a wall straight into the wood. Here is was more sheltered and we stopped and assessed our situation and where to head next, only that some of my notes were running into incomprehensibility due to the wet. Apparently the artwork was in a spotlit section near the northwest of the area so we climbed upwards that way. We passed a few badger sets and after about fifth teen minutes we were stood in tall wet bracken looking up at the north western corner. I was beginning to lose my authority over the directions as on doddington moor as the group began to become less cohesive and trusting, losing patience as we began to follow each other to areas of speculation. I followed the northern wall to track whether its outline really matched the shape of the mapped Buttony wood. I came to an open section next to the wall and yelled to the people following somewhere behind me "I've found it!"

I was looking up north passed a stretch of grass towards another patch of woodland with a GATE VISIBLE AT ITS SOUTH SIDE and an old PILLBOX to the west and it fitted with the profile on the map too. I couldn't be totally sure with our first wood but I instantaneously knew this had to be it. I hastily climbed over the wall and got my foot caught on a wire fence at the opposite side. After falling flat on my front I quickly lifted myself up to avoid any inclination of negativity being transmitted to those who were just about to see what I had just seen. I wasn't going to climb back over that wall without seeing the stones.

First it was my cousin. I saw the glimpse of excitement get blown out of her brain the millisecond she approached the wall. It was getting late and we had a meal booked in the evening, we'd already had a day out at holy island. Auntie jean said we'll have to head back now. So I asked for my mum to take her watch off, said I've got to go, how much time should I have? can I have 15 minutes, is that ok with you guys? And I sprinted right away up the hill not knowing whether there were bulls just round the corner.

I reached the wood after about 70 metres and came to a brisk stop. The wood here was more densely populated with conifers leaving a thick mat of needles beneath. It was dark and gloomy; I jogged on and began to turn over in my head whether a deer could charge me down and how being on my own wasn't very safe. My nerves were charged and I kept on running. I made my way to the north western edge; there weren't as many trees there so it seemed to be 'spotlit'. All of a sudden I came upon some bogs saturated with water but managed to get out soon enough. I headed back into the deepness and darkness of the wood and scurried my way up and down the clearings hurriedly examining rock faces sticking up from the ground as I went. I had already passed half of the rock motives when I collapsed down next to the one facing straight upwards through what is a NARROW OPENING resulting from the murky smoothed rock that slits up the slope that leads DIAGONALLY TO THE RIGHT from a main track. I had time to have a brief encounter with each cup and ring marked circle and at the side of the first large stone I ran passed there appeared to be peck marks.

Buttony is well worth a visit not just for the art but for the journey as well. This entry is also intended to shed some light on to how to reach the destination. As for the meanings, the ring marks could possibly be ripples linked to drought and I also had the thought that they could map the landscape with examples like Dod Law marking territorial boundaries.

Posted by Alex Bickler
17th September 2010ce

Comments (2)

Well done for persevering :-)

I sympathise, having dragged my kids around Gled Law, but at least then it wasn't chucking it down.
Hob Posted by Hob
2nd October 2010ce
"We arched on and I was really glad that we were on our way. I was so soaked that the ink ran out of my black shoes and my toes stayed blue for weeks!"

Brilliant, Alex. I'll bet you'll remember that day after many days of clear blue skies and hot sun are long-forgotten.
The Eternal Posted by The Eternal
3rd October 2010ce
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