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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Pennine Way Bowes Alternative Reccy

bruno in a baldersdale hay meadow

The Bowes Alternative – renamed later as The Bowes Loop takes Pennine Wayfarers from Tan Hill to Bowes and then to Baldersdale for Middleton in Teesdale as an alternative to sploshing straightforwardly Northwards over the trembling bogs of Stainmore and thus providing a slightly easier , less remote route whilst also providing business for  the campsite, B&Bs and the Unicorn Inn in Bowes and, shortly, I’m leading a Durham County Council guided walk to do the loop.

stainmore

This guided walk is programmed for next Sunday and so, me and superdawg went off to do the reccy wot we’re supposed to do just before a guided walk. As it happens, according to an email from Maria at the Council, they’re having a bit of trouble getting stewards for this one. I’m not sure what happens if there’s no stewards, bearing in mind that some punters will ,probably turn up…   I expect we’ll find out on Sunday.

god's bridge

So, the start of the walk was in Bowes again, and heads West on the PW for a bit before turning off to God’s Bridge. We came to the attention of a couple of suckler herds on this part, and as they were starting to show a bit of interest in Bruno, we had to “disappear” a bit into the lie of the land so the grumpy beggars couldn’t see us, thus avoiding being trampled or otherwise killed or crushed.

A66 subway

We turned our attention to the main Pennine Way route which heads North over Stainmore, crossing the A66 via a subway. I tried turning on the lights in the subway but they didn’t work. If anybody has the idea that this tunnel would make a nice, cheap overnight bivi, forget it, it’s wet and full of litter, and it’s pretty noisy. You’d have to be mad.

bruno spots pennine wayfarer ahead. maybe he has cheese..?

The Stainmore Gap is a beautiful wilderness of wild bog which divides the Yorkshire Dales from the North Pennines and the Pennine Way is a bit timid about it, just skirting the Eastern edge, but, it would seem that there’s much more fun to be had further East. I’m determined to have a long walk up here quite soon – in my mind there’s a warm, possibly hot day in high summer with the larks in the sky and only the distant swish and rumble of the A66….

Anyway, we soon caught up with a proper Pennine Wayfarer who was intent on camping at the pub at Holwick this very night. This sounded like a splendid idea although, maybe, a bit far from Tan Hill to Holwick.. We passed him and he passed us again at lunchtime.

on goldsborough

After the cheese teacake and banana and coffee, I bagged the trig at West Hare Crag and wandered along the fenceline quite a way eastwards, just to see what it was like. When I do the walk on the hot summer’s day (see above), I think I’ll follow this fence. It goes to Great Knipe. Worraplod..!

Back to business, though and from Race Yate we dropped down to Clove Lodge and into the fabulously flowery meadows of Baldersdale.

nice horns by the way

A second lunch was taken on the crags of Goldsborough and we splodged back over the moors (everywhere is all very wet at the moment, but it’ll be drier when I do that walk on the hot summer day quite soon…) to Levy Pool where three moo cows tried to mug us, but failed due to a necessarily assertive approach from me and the dawg – and back through the chemical warfare depot where the shepherds were gathering sheep (are sheep supposed to glow like that..?) and back to Bowes.

trip to B&Q required...

I couldn’t help noticing the lines of heavily laden young lads plodding sweatily in the opposite direction. None of them, though, it would seem, noticed me, even when I said “hello” Just one of them spoke to me and enquired as to which path I’d taken and how wet it was. The rest stared intently forwards. This is something I’ve noticed a lot recently. I’m not sure who these children were, or where they were going, except to say that they all had huge packs with tents and karrimat – type mats and they were all looking quite fragged. But I have to say that it’s usual when you meet somebody on the hills, in such a wild and lonely spot, to say “hello”, or, at least, to acknowledge a person’s existence.  Dhuhhh..

Anyway, we did fifteen miles. The County Durham guided walk on Sunday is thirteen and starts at 10:00 a.m. from Bowes village hall car park. be there or be square. Anybody want to be a steward..?

pw bowes loop

11 comments:

Howellsey said...

Hi Mike, looks like a decent tramp, even if boggy underfoot! Maybe you'd like to have a look at my blog (any comments from an expert would be much appreciated!!)
http://howellseycomewalkwithme.blogspot.co.uk/

Dawn said...

Nice one Mike. One or two nice places for a wild camp. Them sheep are tups, not yows. Pretty lads though!

Mike Knipe said...

Expert? Did somebody just come in?
I had a look at your blog and I couldn't help noticing that you were on Cadair Idris a couple of days after me and Dawn and Alan. What can I say..? Its very good. Its important for each blog to have it's own style both in layout and in the content/ideas/language. One day in the future, historians will declare how useful it is to read the 21st century blogs. Mark my words , young man!

Mike Knipe said...

There's certainly some cracking and remote camping spots, I noticed.. a person could disappear for a week with a book and a quart of cheap scotch...

Tony Bennett said...

Those lads'll probably be doing their Duke of Edinburgh thing. It's that time of year. They were all out practising in Derbyshire a few weeks back. There were clumps of orange spots all over the back of Stanage in places they didn't ought to have been. It's good sport to help them with their map reading and send them in the wrong direction. Not that I'd ever do a thing like that.

chrissiedixie said...

Bit far to come over just to be a steward for the day...
Remember that bit of the PW well. Horizontal rain all day. Luckily I'd been there several times before on lovely, hot, summer's days.

Mike Knipe said...

Tony - I did point out how wet and soggy the moor was going to be for them. I hope that cheered them up a bit.
Chrissie - I have one steward so far - apparently I need three, although its not very dangerous, really..
Big storm up there today, though - huuuge amounts of water and lightening and big bangs.. Ooer..

Alan R said...

Them sheep look very horny to me Mike. And where had they hung the coats up!
I couldn't see any real mud in your pics thought. Not like real Derbyshire Kinder mud!

Mike Knipe said...

Alan - I thought some of them sheep were quite pretty.I liked the one with the knowing wink...

Anyway, who said anything about mud? It were sphagnum - great fields of wobbly sphagnum. I love sphagnum as it happens. Its so... green.. and...wet....and..soothing... and sloppy...

Dawn said...

It is an awesome sight Alan to see Mike happily skipping bare foot and in shorts across quivering, wobbling bogs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mike Knipe said...

Barefoot is the new vibram, Dawn. Its much more efficient on a bog and saves your boots and socks from the clart.
And sloppy stuff between the toes is quite nice, really...