Highway To Health.


OS grid ref: NY 7083 6412

Haltwhistle is a small town and parish in northwest Northumberland. It lies 10 miles east of Brampton and has a population of 3,800.

Early forms of the name are Hautwesel (1240), Hautwysel (1254), Hawtewysill (1279), Hautwysell (1381), Haltwesell (1610).

The second part ‘-twistle’ relates to two streams or rivers. It derives from two Old English words twicce or twise, ‘twice’, ‘division into two’ and wella, ‘stream, brook’.

The second word is reduced in the compound word to ull, making twicculla, twisella. All but one of the examples in place names represent a high tongue of land between two streams where they join.

The first part is probably derived from Old English hēafod, here ‘hill-top’, in general, ‘head’, ‘headland’, ‘summit’, ‘upper end’ or ‘source of a stream’. If so, it describes the hill-top on which Holy Cross Church and the oldest part of Haltwhistle was built, enclosed on the north-east and west by Haltwhistle Burn and on the south by the South Tyne. Rowland suggests Hal from ‘hill’ An alternative suggestion is French haut-, meaning ‘high’, since the settlement already existed long before the Norman conquest.

Haltwhistle lays claim to being the most central settlement of the British Isles.

haltwhistle 2

Malcolm is exacerbated by his brother, Stuart. Stuart has left their band, Big Liver, by text. “My own brother! By text!” he says, more than once during today’s hike. “Sounds official,” is all I can think to say. The rub of it is that Stuart is tired of turning up to rehearsals and being the only one who has their chops down. “Surely,” says Raymond, “that is the point of rehearsal.” This is very true. Only half the fun is in the playing and the learning.

“He has left us on tenderhooks.” He means tenterhooks.

one of the hooks or bent nails that hold cloth stretched on a tenter.
on tenterhooks in a state of uneasy suspense or painful anxiety:
eg. The movie kept me on tenterhooks until the very last moment.
Haltwhistle 1Haltwhistle 4
Malcolm: stilton & ham bap. Quavers. Tea.
Raymond: half a Dixons’ pork & English mustard sandwich. Tea.
Nick: egg & cress sandwich. Slice of ginger cake. Water.
Haltwhistle 7
Describing his daughter’s newfound proclivity for all things gym related, post-natal, Raymond says, “She is on a highway to health.” This causes much laughter as raucous renditions of the AC/DC song, with a somewhat similar name – though opposite meaning (possibly), break out. These little scenes are what make it all bearable.
The bleak landscape swallows up our voices as we yomp back over the bracken toward Haltwhistle.
“I’m on the highway to health/ highway to health!”
Haltwhistle 5


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