I decided at a fairly last minute to join this walk, which was aprt of Durham County Council's extensive guided walks programme and lead by a chap called Bill Gallon (pictured) Bill is Chairman of the Pennine Way Association and a strong promoter of the enjoyment the natural things that surround us. Bill now has a website at http://www.billswalks.co.uk/ This site was a birthday present to him from his son and, is, I must say, a cracking read. I quote from it's introductory passages "This website was created for his 69th birthday by his two sons and his new grandson, Will, who is looking forward to his Grandad taking him on these walks" and "Bill Gallon has lived his whole life in Gateshead and is a passionate advocate for the wildlife and enviroment around his home town and the North East of England"
Its not entirely finished yet, but have a look. The messages to grandad to do some more work here and there just add to the site's charm, I think. It will be a great resource for anybody about to embark on any County Durham/North pennine and general North of England walking.
On to the walk - There were forty of us altogether - many of whom I knew and some I didn't. The aim was to follow the Teesdale Way East from Middleton in Teesdale - that's downstream - as far as Cotherstone and then walk back on the North (Yorkshire) side of the Tees back to Middleton.
We walked along the riverside and then through pastures to Eggleston, more pastures to the outer suburbs of Cotherstone (!), back through Romaldkirk and along a disused railway back to Middleton. The three villages, Eggleston, Cotherstone and Romaldkirk are all medieval villages and have retained all kinds of ancient features, not least the fact that they generally have village greens (Romaldkirk has three) - two parallel streets and long enclosures or "tofts" - one for each property sticking out for hundreds of yards around an inner perimeter, then bigger "town" fields outside that - and then the moors. Romaldkirk has village stocks, two pubs and a plague pit and Eggleston has a pub, ancient pigstyes and some strip lychets, or cultivation terraces.... and so on.
There's also the tale of "Gracie" who, in order to escape the plague, which devastated Romaldkirk to such an extent that there was nobody left to record the names of the dead, left the village with her cattle and built a new farm on the edge of the moor. Here, she survived the plague, but traded butter by remote control - leaving supplies on a stone to be collected, and money being left on the stone in payment.
Eventually, the plague passed and she judged it safe to return to her cottage.
Which burnt down and killed her.
Gracie's farm is still there, however.
The countryside is lush and green, but the summer is showing some signs of age and near Eggkeston an area around the beck has recently been ripped and smeared with boulders and debris up by a recent flash flood - probably the same heavy rain that cut off bonny Crook from its surroundings recently. Quite difficult to get across this bit.....
A pleasant ramble on a warm summer day - 13 miles and, maybe, 600 feet of climbing.
Walk today, for tommorrow it will rain.
Have a look at Bill's website.
Incidentally, there's a scarecrow competition going on in Teesdale just now. Pic shows Michael Jackson waiting for the milk lorry.