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Saturday, 26 July 2014

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Tynedale welcomes glorious sunshine for a cracking Easter weekend packed with traditional attractions

AS a warming yolk-yellow sun filled the sky at the weekend, hundreds of people were tempted outside to enjoy a host of al fresco Easter events.

In a welcome change to the custom, this year’s bank holiday weekend took place under a pottery-blue sky as Tynedale was bathed in brilliant sunshine.

Some traditions, however, are steadfast in their constancy, with competition at both the Haydon Bridge wheelbarrow race and Hedley-on-the-Hill’s barrel race as fierce as ever.

This year’s Easter Monday barrel race at The Feathers Inn saw sprightly teams clock impressive times as they lugged an empty beer keg to the top of the steep slope of local farmer Billy Fail’s field.

In total, 11 teams of three entered the race and over £120 was raised for the local mountain rescue team, which offered support on the day.

Henry Wilkie-Smith, Will Nicholson and John Watson were clear victors, crossing the line at seven minutes and 57 seconds to take home a full keg.

Runners up were team Browns Ale – Philip Hindmarsh, Jonathon Walker and Ian Brown – who clocked a time of eight minutes and 20 seconds.

Coming in third were Chris Bosscat, Graham Vials and Glen Archer crossing the line at eight minutes and 45 seconds.

It was a family affair for the children’s race, with Harry, Sophie and Nell Richardson scooping first prize

The ladies’ race was won by Saskia Cradock, Kristy Appleby and Jayne Wright, who were running to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

And winners of the fancy dress contest were Mike Brennan, Andy Marsh and Paul Morrison.

The barrel race was followed by a barbecue and traditional Easter events including an egg jarping contest.

Around 350 people flocked to the gastro-pub over the course of the weekend of events, which was kicked off on Good Friday with a beer and food festival.

All 20 barrels of real ale were polished off and the panel of judges, including parish council chairman Dick Penny, named Allendale Brewery’s Pennine Pale as the favourite.

Helen Greer, who runs the Feathers Inn, with her chef husband Rhian Cradock said: “It was really good; the weather was glorious and the atmosphere for the race was brilliant.

“We had people coming along from all over and the weather was so warm it felt more like summer than April.”

On the other side of the district, an Easter event which has been synonymous with Haydon Bridge for more than four decades is still going strong.

The annual wheelbarrow race drew crowds of people along Ratcliffe Road and the Old Bridge on Monday.

Working in pairs, competitors in fancy dress manoeuvred their wheelbarrows from the entrance of Tait’s Yard to the Haydonian Social Club, with one sitting in the barrow and the other pushing.

They stopped for a drink at the General Havelock Inn and the Anchor Hotel en route, before taking on the final stretch along Shaftoe Street towards the club.

Hannah Shane and Ed Bates were the winners, dressed as Smurfs, followed by runners-up Jonathan Bell and Dan Teasdale, kitted out as video game icons Mario and Luigi.

In third place was nun-for-the-day Jonathan Fletcher and Carl Eales, cross-dressing in fishnet tights.

The village’s pubs and social club work together for the popular event, based on an idea by the club’s former steward, Jakey Forster, in the late 1960s.

The fancy dress competition was won by Mario and Luigi, with the Smurfs in second place.

At the children’s disco which followed at the social club, six-year-old Mollie Crowe won the Easter bonnet competition.

In Slaley, the siren call of tables groaning with gingerbread, curd cheese, gooseberry tart and honey shortbread was too much to resist for the 200 people tempted into the parish hall on Easter Saturday.

The Heritage Cook Off event showcased recipes that families in the 18th century would have enjoyed and set displays of historic cooking implements and old recipe books alongside a mouth watering array of dishes.

A highlight for many visitors was a butter making demonstration from May Kennedy who helped her mother produce over 20lbs of butter every week as a young girl.

The Easter bunny was in evidence in Newton on Sunday with an entire afternoon of egg-related fun and games taking place at the Newton and Bywell Community Hall, including an egg hunt and tea party.

On Good Friday the sun shone on a 50-strong congregation which took part in this year’s Walk of Witness event, organised by Riding Mill Churches Together. The group set off from the village’s Methodist chapel and processed through the village to the parish hall with a six-foot wooden cross carried by local shop owner Frank Turner.

Friday also saw children put to the test to sniff out 600 chocolate eggs and treats – some donated by Bellingham Co-op – hidden in the shaded dells of Hareshaw Linn in Bellingham.

The annual event, organised by the North Tyne and Redewater Twisty Roads Preservation Society, is now in its 30th year.

After a decorated egg competition came the highlight – the traditional ‘booling’ of eggs down a grassy knoll. And this year the much-loved event was gilded by sunshine with over 100 eager egg hunters turning out for the day.

The society’s Sadie Robson said: “It was fantastic; everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.

“The event has gone from strength to strength every year; it’s gone on in rain, snow and mud.

“But the weather did help on Friday. It was a beautiful day with glorious sunshine and everyone seemed to have a good time.”

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