I was going to go off and bag a couple of Co Durham TuMPs over by Barnard Castle and Bowes, but I got a better offer. The TuMPs will still be there next week..or the week after, infact, but the snow may melt, so I found myself parking the knipemobile outside Wearhead village hall and wandering up the slippery hill to Matt’s Mountain Hideaway.
I did offer to take Lucky The Dog, but he took one look outside and went back to bed. He’s not the best motivated dog in the morning and, in fact, won’t talk to anybody till he’s had at least three Benson and Hedges and a litre of strong Bolivian free trade filter coffee with lots and lots of sugar and a bonio soaked in a drop of Islay malt… So I left him snoring.
We set off up the lane towards the tundra-like wastes of Noon Hill wearing snowshoes. The snow was deep and soft and the wind whipped around the lank grasses but went straight through my windproofs. But we made good progress and were soon wandering across the 630 metre summit expecting the Langdon Beck road to appear at any minute, which it refused to do for a quarter of an hour.
The ganister quarry on the top looked inhospitable, but we soon found a calm spot in a quarry a couple of hundred metres down the Teesdale side. This held some deeper snow and a quarry face liberally and dramatically decorated with a generous coating of ice from water leached off the soggy moor and frozen.
After lunch we decided to follow the road back down to Weardale since the alternative would be hard work over snow with a freezing headwind.
The road was well frozen and had seen little traffic. Four off-roaders came up the hill confidently and marks in the snow showed where people had had exciting moments… A suzuki Swift did come gingerly down the hill , followed by an urban 4X4 – and somebody had been sledging and/or snowboarding. A car near the foot of the road was parked with the front nearside wheel in a hole and the rear offside wheel a couple of inches in the air…
Back at Das Bergversteck, we were warmed by toasties and toasted hot cross buns.
We probably did seven miles…