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Saturday, 24 July 2010

Pennine Journey Teesdale to Weardale

high force
Y’see, I just couldn’t resist it.  I got Maggie to drop me off in Middleton in Teesdale and I wandered up the Pennine Way up past Low Force and High Force and as far as Hanging Shaw, just by Forest in Teesdale First School just as playtime ended.
The Pennine Way here is specially flowery at the moment. And the haymeadows are just starting to be cut, so if you go there after reading this, there won’t be much left in the meadows, but the hedgerows and bits of woodland are really good.
pennine way in teesdale
forest in teesdale
I walked along with a Dutch chap for a while and we parted just after Cronkley Farm.
I haven’t yet ordered the official guidebook, so the next part of my route was a bit of a guess. the idea is to get onto the path that runs over the flank of Fendrith Hill to the top of the pass at Swinhope Head. I avoided a couple of fields containing energetic beef and made my way through meadows to Ettersgill where it started raining and I joined the path.
captain beefheart and his pals
The route over to Swinhope Head is might well be tricky in hill fog (which was starting to drop as I made my way) and I used my compass to get the right directions.
shooting hut grey folds
The first landmark is a “shooting hut”, which turns out to be just a ruin, but is easily found just below the 550 metre contour. A path leads off uphill but this turns out eventually to go too far uphill but a gently descending route across the moor brings the low profile of Grey Folds into view. I thought it was a good idea to go there. But first, there’s the small matter of the crossing of Longmere Sike, a deep shaley slot which was a bit slippery….  But anyway, after ejecting the sheep sheltering in the fold, so I could scoff a choccy bar in peace,  more hillfog and misty grey stuff brought a power line into view and it was then a simple matter of following these as they go very close to the cattle grid at the top of the pass. It was a bit of a relief to get on the road here.
My advice for anybody struggling with the navigation here is to fight your way North-east to the road. Another option would be to follow the power line uphill, though you’d eventually get so close to the road that it’d be too tempting…..
swinhope head
The rest of the walk to Westgate follows this road, although there’s a shortcut through deep and damp Juncus (rushes) to Weardale Ski Club’s parking area which cuts out the zig-zags. It gets a bit dull after that, although forward views into Weardale improve with the descent.
I camped on the little campsite by the ford.
descending to westgate
A neo-air takes 28 manly puffs to inflate it properly. I was just inserting manly puff number eight when I heard my name called. I peeked out and there was Charlie, inviting me for tea. We had lamb chops (very nice, Charlie) and then visited the Hare and Hounds for the darts team practise night. I got back to the tent fairly late……..  It had stopped raining.
Its about 15 miles and 2000 feet.

More of this shortly…

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