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Countrystride #83: ALSTON & Isaac's Tea Trail which we stride out from the North Pennine market town of Alston on an amiable wander along the Isaac's Tea Trail footpath. In the company of Tea Trail creator Roger Morris and 'tea lady' blogger Anne Leuchars, we unearth the remarkable rags-to-riches tale of 18th-century tea-seller Isaac Holden, who escaped a childhood of lead mining poverty to become an entrepreneur, fundraiser and pillar of Allendale life. As we dodge blustery showers, we soak in the sights and sounds of a far-from-the-madding-crowd valley, reflect on the early days of the British love affair with tea; visit the remarkable Roman fort at Epiacum; consider the state of our footpaths... and meet a couple walking from John o'Groats to Land's End.

The western ramparts of Epiacum Roman Fort at Castle Nook Farm.

Setting out from St Augustine's, Alston.

Our guests for the day: Anne Leuchars and Roger Morris.

A distant Green Dragon.

Mixed weather... and a LOT of wind.

Descending from Epiacum to the Railway Trail.

Man behind the Trail: Roger Morris.

Roger, Dave and Mark alongside the railway line.

Diane and Ryan with Roger. They're walking to Land's End!

Crossing the expansive River South Tyne.

Kirkhaugh Church - with its 'inverted umbrella' spire.

Inside the church.

Richardson coat of arms on Randalholme, with Royal fire insurance plaque. This also tallies with the initials CRR (Christopher Randal Richardson) of Randalholm Hall and corresponds with the date 1746. He was buried at Kirkhaugh Church in 1784.


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