It can’t have escaped many people’s notice that it’s been pretty wet recently. Unfortunately (although I could be persuaded to enjoy some of this…) the November monsoon coincided with two of my County Durham guided walks and their reccies, which were specially wet in a properly damp kind of way.
Lone tree on Bolts Law in the driech; waiting for local cyclists to decorate it for Christmas
Number One Walk was entitled Bernie the Bolt and was yet another excursion to the summit of Bolt’s Law – this time from Blanchland. Me and the dawg did the reccy on a specially wet day last week. The rain lashed horizontally and the howled vertically, or however wind might howl. We finally solved the problem of where the fence crossing were on the descent to Ramshaw. other than that the walk was uneventful unless you count soggy socks as an event.
On the day (last Sunday), six people turned up, along with the stewards David and Ian and the weather the night before had been even wetter, causing flooded roads and general slop everywhere. It occurred both to me and the stewards that it was unlikely that anybody at all would turn up, but they did. At some point in the afternoon it stopped raining. I put in a few small diversions to avoid the worst boggy bits but, generally, the atmosphere was driech and dank. Just like late November, in fact.
This is the intended route – we cut off the bit by sikehead dam to avoid superslop
In between these, I reccied a walk at Rookhope. Instead of rain and wind, I got a hard frost. This was good, apart from the nithering cold, which wasn’t so good. Bruno came too. He ate a fair amount of ice, so I guess he mainly enjoyed the experience.
There was a problem, though. Footpath 13 in the parish of Eastgate quickly turned into an obstacle course. It started with some deep and tilted mud – tilted in such a way as to propel a sliding hiker into Rookhope Burn. I was soothed by the thought that at least the mud would get washed off as the victim succumbed to hypothermia and/or drowning.
Next was a bit of shoring that shore no more, followed by a tricky tree entanglement that wasn’t there last time I was here. Then more mud and a bog – a product of the severely wet conditions lately and, finally, a landslip with a large teetering tree trunk to swing off, plus a fair amount of mud.
All this was a bit of a shame because otherwise this is a fine and interesting route with waterfalls and little gorges and stuff like that. I’ve reported the state of the path to the rights of way peeps, but I couldn’t take a guided walk that way. So I didn’t.
And today, after yet another night of torrential, preceded by several other days of downpour and serious floods and closed roads and train lines, the morning dawned bright and sunny and thirteen brave souls turned up for the walk at Rookhope Arch, along with the stewards David (a different David, there’s lots of Davids), Sheila and Neville.
And we had quite a nice walk – sunny and chilly and still muddy. We avoided Footpath 13 by walking along the road, which was very quiet anyway. The mood seemed generally happy and Graeme produced a slug of sloe gin at half time which cheered me up even more and went down nicely with a lump of Sheila’s fruitcake. (This is not a euphemism, there was cake) (and chocolate) I might check out my own sloe gin which is slowly brewing in one of the knipetowers main kitchens…
Anyway, the views were much better today and the upper part of the Dale was bathed in winter sunshine and quite beautiful.
Thanks to the five stewards and the nineteen walkers – it seemed unlikely at times that anybody would turn up at all and there were discussions on Tuesday night about cancelling Wednesday’s walk due to road conditions. (Turned out they weren’t so bad in Weardale as it happened)
Both walks are 8 miles with or without diversions.
Stop Press – A couple of pics from Graeme ( the chap with the sloe gin)
I’m aware that a few peeps who come on the Durham CC guided walks sometimes read the pieblog and, occasionally, I get sent pictures. Soooo…. as this is an open invitation to guided walks customers to have their pics put up on the blog – let’s call it Punters’ Pics. Could there be prizes…..?