All I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time. When it came time to put in bids for the Durham County Council winter guided walks programme, I was studying the 1:25k North Pennines map and my wandering digit lighted on Burble Well and it occurred to me that it would be a jolly jape to take a guided walk there. My first reccy of the place was ages and ages ago and there was a blog post all about it. The place is on the soggy side of damp, and quite difficult to find at first, so I redesigned the route completely so as to come at it from a direction where there was a handy handrail, spookily named “Burble beck”. Burble beck has a right of way running next to it and on the ground there’s a bit of a path.
The pre-walk reccy discovered several new features. these were:
1) The stiles on the right of way between Pitcher House and Friar House are in a shaky condition. this wouldn’t be good for a group of any size and somebody could end up with half a tonne of stone wall on them.
2) The right of way at Mere beck House has been diverted, the stile is deep in nettles and is falling down and the diverted footpath is blocked with barbed wire AND the waymarks are either pointing the wrong way, are absent or are just blank discs. I have reported this to the rights of way peeps. A short diversion was taken on the day.
3) The six inches of rain which fell in two days last week has submerged great chunks of the path East of Race Yate and the invisible paths over Fairy Head are rough and wet up to the knees in places, but the Pennine Way by Goldsborough was reasonably dry. A wide boggy bit on Currack Rigg was just passable at the cost of one wet sock.
4) A Polish lass abseiling off Goldsborough was braver than her English companion.
5) There are lots of cattle on the route – none of whom are specially dangerous. Two suckers with new calves are, perhaps, the riskiest.
When it came to doing the walk, as well as the two compulsory Davids and an Eric, sixteen people and a small dog turned up and we set off over pastures that were even soggier than when I did the reccy, and which were to be yet soggier by the end of the day.
I had chopped huge great chunks off the route in an attempt to keep our party’s socks dry. This was to prove a hopeless cause which was badly lost in the now knee-deep ditch on Currack Rigg.
We found the Burble Well easily. I could tell that the group were impressed by the way they asked incredulously if this was “it” and also by the dark mutterings concerning how to test the depth of a well by the insertion of a walk leader as we poked the oily slick on the surface of the orange water with a walking pole to make sure that it was something ferrous and not the contents of a tractor’s sump. As the North Atlantic began to unload yet another fierce and refreshing shower, I detected the first rumblings of rebellion. We returned to the cars the quick way, getting even wetter in the process.
The reccy was miles and miles and miles and involved much retracing and, indeed, splodging through cold, black, smelly water. The walk was advertised as eleven miles, but we managed about nine and a half. This walk would be better in a drought, perhaps when the skylarks are singing high in a blue and cloudless June sky. If you tried it when the bogs were frozen, you’d never get up the road to the start.
The map represents the route as it should be and not the Noah’s Ark Option.
Note that the “danger area” is an active army firing range and, despite the existence of rights of way, should not be entered when the red flags or bullets are flying.