Yesterday was the day for leading another Durham County Council guided walk, and Wednesday’s route was up to the Northumberland border from Cowshill, followed by a rough lurch over the moorland tussocks to Sedling Rake, a quick descent to Weardale and a riverside ramble alongside the..er….river back to the start. A grand total of 8 miles.
It were perishing cold today, too with a starting temperature of about –8C in the lower bits of Weardale, rising to a magnificent –0.5C at the end. people from the Eastern bits of Durham were worried about the snow (there was more in the East than in Weardale as it happens) and in view of the nithering nature of the day, I didn’t expect a record-breaking attendance. Nevertheless, ten of us turned up, including the stewards Ray, Dave (it’s compulsory to have a Dave) and Eric.
Me and superdawg Bruno did the reccy in ever-so-slightly warmer conditions last week. (just around freezing) We went to the top of Middlehope Moor, though, just cos we could. The guided walk didn’t venture into Northumberland but stayed on the other side of the wall. We allowed ourselves to look over the wall for a short period as a special treat. The bridleway that meets the County boundary stops there and doesn’t continue inside Northumberland. This is a fine example of dirty deeds done when rights of way were being registered back in time. The local grouse-shooting gentry of Northumberland clearly didn’t want the unwashed distrubing their fun whilst the politically redder county of Durham seems to have registered more paths. Northumberland are just about to fix the problem, although horses and bikes will still have to stop at the border, making the bridleway a bit pointless for anything other than an out-and-back journey where a saddle is being used.
The ideal conditions for this walk – the ones I envisaged when I first thought of it, are hard neve, which happens up there regularly, often at this time of year, but so far we’ve just had hard frost or (today) a moderate powder snow cover. One day, we’ll get there, though, we just need a blizzard of warm, wet snow to freeze hard for a couple of days and Robert will be your Mum’s brother.
Even so, just like last year, the sun shone most of the time and the views of the surrounding fells was superb – a grand day to be out on the hills, in fact although barely warm enough to stop for long for the consumption of butties and chocolate. Graeme did, however supply quantities of delicious cocktails to warm the cockles at lunchtime behind the wall at Sedling rake. Nice.
On the reccy, there was just the hint of a snow dusting and the top of the hill had been helpfully marked with the word “top”, just to confirm the fact. I also took GPS waymarks of all the key points of the trundle across the moor in case of hill fog on the day. If you got yourself dislocated up here, it could be difficult finding yourself again in the fog. Unless you had a GPS or just decided to walk downhill (this would inevitably lead the walker to Cowshill since the landscape is a big funnel at this point) (See – you get self-rescue tips as well on the pie blog)
The return by the riverside was uneventful although I did detect that the earlier struggles over the moor had taken their toll of one or two of the walkers. It’s good for them, though. Pic of waterfalls by Graeme. I’ve been struggling to get this picture myself for ages.
Good walk, though. I enjoyed it and I enjoyed the reccy. Bruno couldn’t come on the actual walk, though as he’s Not Allowed.
More Upper Weardale fun shortly..
There’s a map…..
Extra pics courtesy of Graeme Ferguson. If walkers want to send me pictures, I’ll likely put as many on the blog as possible. It would make a nice change from my efforts!