The car temperature thermometer warmth indicator thingy was reading 27C today, and this was at 620 metres (ish) at Killhope Cross on the Durham/Cumbria border. This is quite warm for 2000 feet.
The advice on the radio was that this hot weather could be dangerous for yer Old Codgers and that they should really be trying to find ways to keep safe and keep cool. This mainly involved shutting all the doors and windows and sitting naked by the open door of the fridge sucking a mivi whilst wearing a wet teatowel on the hairdo. (Do they still make mivis – if not, Soleros are very nice)
Brian, though had a different idea and this was to do the South Tyne Plodge once again with his old kneecap so he can repeat it again on a future warm day with his new kneecap. By immersing one’s venerable bones in the River South Tyne, they would be kept cool and safe and, when the heatwave is over (Tuesday), we phogies can return once again to trying to keep warm by shutting all the doors and windows, wearing three cardigans and some woolly socks whilst sipping hot cocoa and watching Corry and Jeremy Kyle on the telly.
The sky, though, had a few towering clouds and the forecast was for thunderstorms - and – AND , mind you, the square corridor of rock that holds the River South Tyne from it’s junction with Ash Gill for, maybe a mile or so downstream would be a bad place to be in any sudden flood of the type often found during or just after a thunderstorm. It’s pretty much inescapable for a distance and, this lead to a certain tension in the proceedings. But we kept an eye on the sky and an ear out for a rumble up top.
Two cars are needed for this trip – one parked at Garrigill and the other at Ashgill Bridge. Which is what we did.
We descended into Ash Gill and had a series of little swims in the waterfalls and deep pools that lead down to the Tyne.
The rest is mostly walking on slippery cobbles, but with the occasional deep bit. It is, however, an intensely beautiful place on a warm summer day. It’s also well populated with dippers, who seem to display an interest in intruders and the pools are full of darting fish – probably trout, I suspect, and lower down, there’s a healthy population of blackfly and horseflies who delight in taking a chunk out of any bare skin. I have noticed, though , that skin that’s cold from a dip in a deep bit is ignored by these evil ravenous beasties. Another option is to wear a wetsuit…
Just beyond a stone footbridge, we entered a short gorge where the river is wide enough to touch both sides with outstretched arms. The gorge is deep and the water is specially deep. And black. And slow. This is the best bit. A little bit scary. But the water was reasonably warm (tested at 16C with a greenhouse thermometer)
The final few hundred metres is a trial of slippery cobbles, finally emerging at the ford at Garrigill. Meanwhile, back at Pietowers, the sky was flashing and banging and the power was off as the storm meant for me at Garrigill missed me by about 25 miles.
This is the third or fourth time we’ve done this plodge. Hopefully, we’ll both live long enough to do it again.
The Ash Gill/South Tyne Plodge starts at Ash Gill bridge on the B6277 Alston – Teesdale road a bit South of Garrigill and ends in Garrigill city centre. You have to be able to swim!
Finally – Big thanks to Juan for the donation to Mind through the virgin money-giving site – good for the health of the karma, Juan – there’s a link here click here for karma enhacement for anyone who needs to lose a pound or two….