My plan for today – up until last night anyway , was to go and bag Penyghent and Plover Hill as part of the Yorkshire Dales 2000 foot tops thing.
The weather forecast was a bit borderline for the Dales, specially late in the day, and I didn’t have any change for the pay and display, and I could have a lie-in if I went somewhere closer to home…… so I went to Teesdale. In particular, I went to the Gibsons cave visitor centre care park, which is free.
I determined to go and have a look at a little crag on the North side of Teesdale which has some caves – and then come back to the start using the Pennine Way.
It was sublime. In fact it was very sublime. Gwan – ask me how sublime it was. It was, sublime. That is to say, it wasn’t beautiful, not in the usual twee sort of romantic green kind of beautiful. No it wasn’t that. There was lots of snow on the ground for a start. And then the sky was grey and white and heavy and, and the high moors were bright white, and maybe there was a bit of hillfog. So there wasn’t actually a boundary between the hills and the sky. The hills became the sky and the sky became the hills. There were flakes of snow and no horizon. There were deep drifts and frozen gates, impossible to open. It was bleak and tough and unyielding. It was, in fact, The Pennines. I really like it when its like this.
So, after leaving the easy lanes, we blundered into the white desert and there was hard work, for a time. And swearing.
Bruno plunged through a soft new drift into a beck and struggled dogfully out again. There was limping for a while.
We lunched (I lunched, Bruno dribbled) on the limestone crag at High Hurth Edge. This is a fine suntrap in summer. Today there was a little shelter from the sneaking wind and a fine , if monotone view. There’s some caves in the crag – Moking Hurth, 1000 feet Grade II, and a pothole – Moking Hurth Pot, 35 feet deep, 800 feet long and Grade II. Must have a look down here sometime… there is mud and crawling to be done….
We descended by easy tracks to Forest in Teesdale school and crossed the river to join the Pennine Way.
The Pennine Way, for some reason, was icy, and quite slippery till I reached the bottom of the snowline, somewhere just upstream from High Force. There were a few people rambling on through the juniper woods.
The juniper woods are quite remarkable. The trees are ancient and mainly sterile, so every year, as many juniper berries as possible are collected by Natural England and given to a nursery. Any germinations are shared between NE and the nursery – and quite a bit of new plantings have been done. Its a great place. It smells of gin. There are fierce suntraps in summer and its a favoured place for adders.
We passed High Force and came to Low Force where we found – a pair of trainers. Just removed and left, by all appearances. I wonder if anybody is missing? Low Force would be a bad place for a dip on such a day. High Force would be more efficient if ending it all was the aim. You might survive Low Force.
It started snowing heavily. We left via the wobbly Wynch Bridge
Its a good walk, this. Quite easy to do. 9 Miles and 1200 feet. Which isn’t much…
Incidentally – I saw some signs of spring today – a flock of about 30 lapwings by Cronkley – and by High Force, a flock of about 50 lapwings heading West. Coming back from their hols at Redcar, no doubt. That’s a sign of spring that is…..