19. 07. 21

19th. July, 2021

Abandoned, reclaimed, renamed, the path I’m walking on was, until relatively recently, the Riverside Branch Line servicing industry below Byker and Walker, on the River Tyne. The passenger service was withdrawn in 1973, goods trains stopped in 1988. I walk a path that retains traces of industry and its decline on the Tyne.
A recent Newcastle City Council report on contaminated former industrial land states succinctly, The riverside industries of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, particularly the Tyneside Chemical industry, were overlain by shipyards, repair yards and engineering works which themselves have now been superseded by service industries. An industrial legacy we’re still dealing with in all sorts of ways.

In the intervening years Alder, Larch, Oak, Sycamore, Whitebeam, have colonised, within and outside the original railway boundary wall, densely in places.
Collared Doves on the path, blackbirds, Dunnock, two wood pigeons resting on the branch of a Swedish Whitebeam. I can hear, rather than see, a Chaffinch, the canopy is dense here. 
Cross the old railway bridge over Walker Road and the path opens out. Bramble and bindweed, Rosebay Willow herb and Cleavers dominate, but as the path drops towards Glasshouse Street, Bramble and Briar Rose thin out a little. White Campion on the verge, Wild Carrot and Yarrow, Common Knapweed and Creeping Thistle, Tufted Vetch and Lady’s Bedstraw compete for space on the banks. Oxeye Daisy is still flowering.

This path is often quiet. Sometimes cyclists pass by, dog walkers and runners too, but often as not it’s a solitary slow walk. Time to observe, indulge a developing interest in botany, wonder at the speed with which plants colonise even contaminated land, and with that a curiosity about the recent industrial past; it sometimes feels as though I’m walking with ghosts.