I had extra company for this jaunt up Teesdale – readers with really good memories and, frankly, a very suspicious eye for detail about what I’ve been up to in the blog may well remember that when me and Dawn went up the Cheviots last February, we chanced upon Mick and Yvonne out on a walk…? Well it was Yvonne who came on this walk – a nice change, as it happens, from just Bruno’s company. I mean Bruno is OK, but his conversation is limited and he always demands some of my lunch and Yvonne had brought her own, although as it turned out it was far too draughty to sit around scoffing butties.
The original idea had been to wander up on to Fendrith hill from hanging Shaw pickernick place , visiting Moking Hurth caves on the way and taking advantage of the still frozen bogs up top, as it were. When we arrived at Hanging Shaw, however, it was blowing a bit of a hoolie and it was snowing and blowing in a particularly unfriendly kind of way. On top of all this, the snow all around was melting fast and all streams, ditches, footpaths and substantial bits of road were underwater or a mix of soggy slush and water. So we didn’t go.
Instead, we had a stroll up Hudeshope by the raging Hudeshope beck and up to the mines. All of this was extremely sloppy and/or with deep,, soft snow and little becks in spate. Quite hard work, in fact. One path was a deep, running stream, probably knee deep, although I was reluctant to expose my knees to this icy flood.
Sometimes the sun came out and at other times it slashed it down in a specially unfriendly kind of way.
We found the foot of Coldberry Gutter, using the magic of Ordnance Survey mapping and splattered off up the hill using, as far as possible, the bits of hill that had just emerged from underneath the snow. Some slithering was done as we eventually got ourselves into the gully, which we followed uphill and over the top of a huge snowdrift at the summit.
Its remarkable how much this looked like the Lairig Ghru or maybe the Chalamain Gap, but much smaller and less bouldery.. in fact … not really…….. anyway… Coldberry Gutter is a deep lead mining hush forming a double-sided gully system and which is a significant feature in the Teesdale landscape – that is to say, you can see it from lots of places!
We splodged onwards, emerging, eventually, wet and wind-ruffled on the high road back to Middleton, which was partially blocked by a collapse of part of the wall/hedge and bankside, probably due to the weight of sloppy snow drifted up against it in the field.
We did seven miles. This is the equivalent of fourteen in the conditions according to Tranters Aunty Mary’s Formula – in view of the headwind, the serious damp underfoot conditions and the lack of a chicken sandwich.
Remarkably, my feet were completely dry at the end, although I did have a wet bum from sliding down the hillside at one point. The dryness of the tootsies are down to my new Meindl boots and the gaiters I bought when I thought I’d left my first pair at Buttermere (I found them in Bruno’s toy box)
Despite, or probably because of the weather and the new company, it were a right enjoyable do. I’m not sure Yvonne will be back for more of this kind of torture, or my relaxed attitude to walk planning however!
Yvonne has a blog too and it’s here: http://ramblingnana.blogspot.co.uk/ where there might be another version of this tale at some point…