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Saturday, 24 July 2010

Pennine Journey Westgate to Blanchland

restrospect swinhope road
The heat of the sun got me out of bed and I was away by 9:00 ish (ok, I know its not early, but if you’d been to Darts practise at the Hare and Hounds….)  I called at Charlie’s and had coffee….
A bit later I slugged up the hill out of Westgate. various people stopped to chat. It took a while.
Eventually, at a strategic bend in the road, I headed off along a contour with a lane on it and this took me towards Heights Quarry. it was all very lovely so far.
mined out vein
The route follows the old railway line to Rookhope and its all very lovely with some smashing Weardale views until a deep gorge suddenly appears at the feet. There is a moment of doubt (cos its a big drop) – but by poking around, a path on the left is found which drops down gently to the beck and then appears on the other side of the gorge without much at all in the way of drama. For geologists, there’s a very nice mined-out mineral vein here.
For about a kilometre after this point, its best to keep your left eye closed. The path goes alongside heights Quarry, which is still working and is very busy. Its well waymarked and fenced off from any danger and eventually industry is passed and the intrepid Pennine Journier pops out on the other side into old railway cuttings with bits of woodland, lots of flowers and many buzzing insects. Its green and damp and beautiful.
weardale way
After that, the Weardale Way goes easily along the railway line to Rookhope where it meets the cyclists’ Coast to Coast route and, of course, the Rookhope Inn where a short period of celebration is allowed.
bolts law incline
After “lunch”, I climbed the Bolts law incline, a bit wearily and followed PJ instructions to go and bag Bolts Law, scene of recent solstice partying. There’s a lot of grouse living in the Bolts Law heather, and its very heavily managed, so if I had a worry about the PJ route, it would be here. I’m not sure the shooting estate will be too chuffed about this route going through here. There could well be conflict. True, its open access, but its not open all the time, and Journiers with doggies will have to find another route.
bolts law
There is, in fact, a perfectly good footpath system from Rookhope running up by Stogel Clough and then over the North East slope of Bolts Law, crossing the summit and then down to Ramshaw. The path down to Ramshaw, though, is a mess. its difficult to follow, has what appears top be an old leat which is crossed on a rotten footbridge, and there’s electric fences. And lots of thistles. But its a right of way and can’t be closed. It just needs a bit of TLC, really. I followed this path down to Ramshaw, as best I could. I might report this to Durham County Council. I’m not sure its bad enough, though.
deborah wood
After Ramshaw, there’s some quiet lanes and some woodland footpaths to Baybridge, then a pleasant riverside path to Blanchland.
There’s no phone signal in Blanchland, so I used the phonebox to ring home. I got a minute for 60p. 60 PENCE for a minute.  Absolute robbery.  I allowed myself to be exploited to the sum of three pints of Black Sheep in the Lord Crewe Arms whilst waiting for Maggie to arrive.
the end

And that, folks, is the sum of my Pennine Journey sampler.
It might not be exactly the route in the book. It won’t be far out though. Its not an official route anyway… 
Today’s was 11 miles and 1300 feet.


The Odyssee said...

3 pints of Black Sheep in the afternoon and sat in the sun as well. That's it i am going out tonight for a few John Willie Lees.!
Oh yes and it looks a nice walk as well.

Mike Knipe said...

Thats right Alan, three of your Queen's pints.
I feel guilty about it now, obviously....

The Odyssee said...

I can understand that Mike, but you sacrificed yourself on behalf of others.

Mike Knipe said...

I do my best, Alan. Its part of my campaign to rid the world of the evil beer. Pint by pint.
Its tough, but somebody has to do it.