I noticed this walk advertised on the Durham County Council website. The attractions were that it started at Stanley Crook – just a mile and a couple of hops from Chez Knipe, so I could walk to it, and it was 12 miles long, which is what you want at this stage of TGO-ness and it was lead by Bill Gallon , and I always find Bill’s walks interesting and, well, quite fun.
So I walked up to the start which was a small car park on the Deerness Valley line – much too small for the number of cars that turned up, in fact.
It was nice to meet some old acquaintances amongst the walkers, and, not least amongst the three stewards, Doug, Neville and Clare and so it was in high dudgeon that we set off Northwards along the Deerness valley walk in warm spring sunshine and not a flake of volcanic debris in sight.
I won’t bother you with the fine details of the walk but will just recount what a nice day it was and how it was that nobody got killed or lost or anything and that we visited some bits of woodland, some old railway lines,some new nature reserves, some very old coke ovens (remains of…), more lambing fields and woods and vast areas of the over-smoothed local countryside.
I should explain that the countryside around Crook has been substantially dug up, turned over and replaced with something else in the search for Black Diamonds which lie just under the surface and go down a couple of hundred feet in a series of well-known and named seams. Drift mines and shafts were replaced by open castings, hundreds of feet deep and occupied by what appeared to be Tonka toys.
Everything was coal. They filled in the holes and planted strips of trees, and now,we’re left with smooth green undulating hills – not unpleasant in themselves, but not the rough moorland that it once was. Its easy walking country. There is space and big views and deep woods and bits of industrial archeology based on coal, coke and iron.
And the spring is just springing with just the startings of patches of new flowers and the greening of the fields.
We had a cracking walk. The company was good. (There were 27 of us in total) The weather was perfect and I only had to walk a bit extra – so I did just over 15 miles and 1600 feet of climbing.
But what of the Cow’s Tail? Its a pub. Actually, its an ex-pub. It was The Dun Cow aka The Cow’s Tail aka “Dode’s”. It was very small. The publican, at one time , was the oldest landlord in Britain and if you stood too long at the bar, your legs got burned from the coal fire. I used to visit on my bike. Its downhill all the way to Knipe Towers from there.
Bill Gallon is Chairman of the Pennine Way Association and had an excellent website of North-East walks at http://www.billswalks.co.uk/ Have a look – its fab – specially if you live in NE England.