This is a personal blog mainly to do with hillwalking things but with other stuff as well.....maybe the odd rant..
Sunday, 9 January 2011
Best of Teesdale Walk
Best of Teesdale is the title of the third walk wot I’m doing for the Durham County Council Summer Guided Walks programme. Today was the day for going and doing the first reccy. A glimpse through one of the arrow slits at Knipe Towers revealed a covering of lovely fresh powder snow. This is great for the walking but really crap for the driving. And so it proved. It took me ages to get to Bowlees Peckernick Place just a bit up the Dale from Middleton. I drove veeeerrry veeerrry slowly and didn’t crash into anything at all. But here we have an empty car park, full of soft, fresh snow and there are blue skies and the robins are having wobblers in the hedges – and so we embark on our journey – down through the lambing field to the wobbly bridge. The wobbly bridge is, of course, Wynch Bridge, the oldest pedestrian suspension bridge in the entire universe and a replacement for an earlier one that tipped a shift of leadminers into the foaming Tees twenty feet below. The Tees was foaming a bit today, in fact, and it also had the added interest of a small iceberg. Strangely odd, yet , at the same time, oddly strange.. We progressed. Up The Pennine Way, past the stone sheep that Bruno had barked at as a pup, on past Low Force and through the juniper forest to High Force and on, yet further on past the roadstone quarries and up through some more junipers to the iron age settlement site, the remains of which nowadays consist of a tin-roofed railway truck. Then it go really cold. The wind was blowing a hoolie around Bruno’s lugoils (ears) and so, we closed all our pit zips, pulled down our hats and peed in our gloves (I lied about the last one by the way) – and stumbled off into the teeth of a howling gale which occasionally plastered us with spindrift. We teetered up the old neve and , frankly, blisters of blue ice and the wind made us slide back down again. Time passed. Energy was invested. heads down, we lurched forwards. In fact we lurched into a beautiful blue snowdrift. This was beautiful to look at but impossible to cross. I mean impossible. We did try. Eventually, we (me) decided to use the bypass, which , together with the blinding spindrift lead us into white oblivion. I couldn’t find the bloody path again. After some time and more expended calories (I’m so glad I drank all that Christmas beer) – I found a cairn and this lead us slithering and falling back down to the lovely River Tees. A stony path with holes in it and some very large slabs of ice, presumably from the river, but piled up at the sides, took us past the pencil mine (you’d have to come on the walk to find out about the pencil mine) and , eventually to Forest in Teesdale, where we lunched eventually and crossed the river on a lovely bridge. An easy but very icy path took us to Moking Hurth caves. It seems that the snow has been stripped off the fields on the North side of the Tees, leaving a landscape encased in hard ice. Behind the walls there are some snowdrifts, but they’re not huge…..? An old route of mixed roadway and tracks brought us back, exhausted, to Bowlees. This is a walk which should appear on the DCC programme in August. Hopefully, most of the snow will have melted by then. I noticed that Bruno was walking quite stiffly when he got out of the car, and maybe he was squeaking with some pain. I’ll be keeping an eye on him but I think it was just the tough conditions, and powder snow sometimes burns his pads a bit. We did 13 miles and 1700 feet of climbing. Phew.
I am a retired NHS Personnel person. All I do nowadays is walk about.
I used to have my pet dog Bruno with me (in the front page pic). he was Superdawg but he died. Now I have Lucky the pup. He's a bit like Bruno, only smaller and more suspicious.