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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..?