This walk was badly timed, really, since the route coincided quite a bit with two other guided walks up Weardale within the last few weeks. This, and the duff, almost hysterical weather forecast on the Beeb containing monstrous amounts of heavy rain, turning to snow on the Pennines and huuuuge gales of wind to boot, may have been responsible for the fact that there were only seven of us on the walk, including the steward Ralph and the stand-in emergency appointment steward Richard.
Me and the Dawg did the reccy a few days ago in nithering but otherwise fine weather. Bruno was pretty gruntled about the small amounts of snow on the tops but not all that happy about having lunch inside the big orange flappy group shelter.
And another thing …. this walk will be repeated in October as part of the North Pennnines AONB Walking Festival and will start and/or finish at the Chatterbox cafe in St John’s Chapel, a fine establishment which provided me with a huge pot of tea and a teasted toecake with raspberry jam after the reccy. Unfortunately, as it was chucking it down when we finished today, nobody was motivated to make the dash from the auction mart car park to the cafe for similar refreshments today.
Basically, the walk follows the Weardale Way from St John’s Chapel to West Blackdene and then a path on the hillside to Wearhead, followed by a lurch uphill to Sedling rake, returning damply to the start via Slit Wood and the riverside path from Westgate.
As we stopped in Wearhead to allow ladies to visit the ladies, a lady came out of a house to offer advice on where to walk in Weardale. We told her our route and she declared that there was “Nowt oop there” and that we would have to cross fields to get anywhere.
Ignoring this advice, we took to the hills for a wind-assisted ascent to Race Head – a place with a bit of sloppy snow, a lot of flourspar and a cracking view of the approaching dark clouds over the Teesdale ridge the South. It rained a bit. Then it stopped as we paddled the Middlehope Burn, and started again as we left Westgate. By the time we got to
Pheonix St Johns Chapel it was heaving it down.
I’ll be back in October.
In the meantime, me and Dawn are off to Moffat to get blown about and really wet.