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Thursday, 28 January 2010

Bouncing around Burtree Fell

gate dog snowdrift

Burtree Fell has it’s Scandinavian name (Burtree Fell) and its Anglian name – Middlehope Moor. Really really attentive readers may remember that a couple of weeks ago me and superdawg failed to get up Middlehope Moor due to very deep and soft snow. So, today, we had another go.

We parked up at Cowshill and followed a slippery lane up onto the Fell. And there we found some iron-hard neve. [thrusts clenched fist into air in a victorious kind of manner] Walking on this stuff is incredibly easy, and so enjoyable it ought to be banned, or taxed at least. Every now and then, about once every half a click, it lets you in, so there’s always the potential for wrenching you knee. The trick is to keep away from snow which has anything sticking out of it – for instance, grass, rushes, sedges, you get the idea.

hard neve soft dog

So we fair sailed up to the summit by keeping to the deepest and whitest, crispiest and hardest snow. And it was a nice, brightish morning too. Bruno celebrated by bouncing around and digging holes. He’s not really supposed to be up here unless he’s on the invisible footpath as there are ground nesting birds (not much nesting going on today) But its OK, he’s really a cat.

middlehope moor summit area middlehope moor trig point

We got to the summit very quickly – its usually horrendously tussocky and boggy up here and progress is often at best at a couple of km per hour. The top is marked by a shy little cairn and there’s a trig point a bit South of East.

Further speedy progress was made South East then South using a 100 metre-wide strip of hard snow which had formed on the steeper part of Sedling Fell and we soon arrived at Sedling Vein, which is a continuation of the Slit Vein of ironstone, galena and quartzy stuff which runs along most of Weardale. Its well dug up – which means there are holes and humps to sit and have your lunch on out of the fierce windchill that had sprung up.

following a band of snow

My particular lunch lump had a fine scattering of flourspar, some of which I took a pic of for your edification. This stuff is bright purple when its wet. One of the pieces seems to have a bit of lead in it. Can you guess which one, children? No, its not the purple one. they’re all purple yer daft little sod. This is why I never went in for childrens TV. C’mere yer little brat an’ I’ll smack yer legs…!!

bits of flourspar

Clouds were building up on surrounding tops and the forecast was for rain and snow, so we progressed off Eastwards along the “Rake” which holds the remains of a water leat which used to take water down to mines on the fellside below. It was under quite a bit of snow today, in fact, at the far eastern end, there were some fair sized drifts for the dog to play on. Anybody intent of practising digging a snowhole would find ideal conditions just here.

weather brewing sedling rake snowdrifts

Once on the road, which had been ploughed and cleared, we trotted off down into Weardale and followed the riverside path upstream to Wearhead, where a sign in the shop window of the Weardale Stores announced hot drinks – so I had one. This shop had been derelict for a long time , so its nice to see it operating again. I hope they do well. The coffee was good too.

wearhead stores window

Onwards and upwards by more riverside paths brought us back to Cowshill where the car was still parked.

And just then it started raining.

Missed me!

Smug mode.

burtreeford waterfall and bridge

The snow conditions today are pretty much what I’ve been hoping for for weeks now – good, hard snow which provides fast and easy walking. Its fab. It’ll likely be around for a few weeks yet as the slow thaw is about to end for a few days.

We did 8 Miles and about 1200 feet of ascent.

I’m off to the quiz at the King’s in Crook now. (We’ve won two weeks running, can we make it a hat-trick?)

middlehope moor

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