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Sunday, 9 January 2011

Best of Teesdale Walk

upper teesdale jan 2011
Best of Teesdale is the title of the third walk wot I’m doing for the Durham County Council Summer Guided Walks programme. Today was the day for going and doing the first reccy.
A glimpse through one of the arrow slits at Knipe Towers revealed a covering of lovely fresh powder snow. This is great for the walking but really crap for the driving. And so it proved. It took me ages to get to Bowlees Peckernick Place just a bit up the Dale from Middleton. I drove veeeerrry veeerrry slowly and didn’t crash into anything at all.
wynch bridge
But here we have an empty car park, full of soft, fresh snow and there are blue skies and the robins are having wobblers in the hedges – and so we embark on our journey – down through the lambing field to the wobbly bridge. The wobbly bridge is, of course, Wynch Bridge, the oldest pedestrian suspension bridge in the entire universe and a replacement for an earlier one that tipped a shift of leadminers into the foaming Tees twenty feet below.
low force ice flow
The Tees was foaming a bit today, in fact, and it also had the added interest of a small iceberg. Strangely odd, yet , at the same time, oddly strange..
high force teesdale
We progressed. Up The Pennine Way, past the stone sheep that Bruno had barked at as a pup, on past Low Force and through the juniper forest to High Force and on, yet further on past the roadstone quarries and up through some more junipers to the iron age settlement site, the remains of which nowadays consist of a tin-roofed railway truck.
Then  it go really cold. The wind was blowing a hoolie around Bruno’s lugoils (ears) and so, we closed all our pit zips, pulled down our hats and peed in our gloves (I lied about the last one by the way) – and stumbled off into the teeth of a howling gale which occasionally plastered us with spindrift.
snowdrift approaching....
We teetered up the old neve and , frankly, blisters of blue ice and the wind made us slide back down again. Time passed. Energy was invested. heads down, we lurched forwards. In fact we lurched into a beautiful blue snowdrift. This was beautiful to look at but impossible to cross. I mean impossible. We did try. Eventually, we (me) decided to use the bypass, which , together with the blinding spindrift lead us into white oblivion. I couldn’t find the bloody path again.
upper teesdale
After some time and more expended calories (I’m so glad I drank all that Christmas beer) – I found a cairn and this lead us slithering and falling back down to the lovely River Tees.
A stony path with holes in it and some very large slabs of ice, presumably from the river, but piled up at the sides, took us past the pencil mine (you’d have to come on the walk to find out about the pencil mine) and , eventually to Forest in Teesdale, where we lunched eventually and crossed the river on a lovely bridge.
forest in teesdale
An easy but very icy path took us to Moking Hurth caves. It seems that the snow has been stripped off the fields on the North side of the Tees, leaving a landscape encased in hard ice. Behind the walls there are some snowdrifts, but they’re not huge…..?
An old route of mixed roadway and tracks brought us back, exhausted, to Bowlees.
This is a walk which should appear on the DCC programme in August. Hopefully, most of the snow will have melted by then.
I noticed that Bruno was walking quite stiffly when he got out of the car, and maybe he was squeaking with some pain. I’ll be keeping an eye on him but I think it was just the tough conditions, and powder snow sometimes burns his pads a bit.
We did 13 miles and 1700 feet of climbing. Phew.
dvcrs walk 3


Martin Rye said...

Lots of snow and winter weather Mike. Looked a fine day out. Hoping for a rapid thaw low down this week. Catch you later on in the week hopefully.

Mike Knipe said...

The forecast is for thaw, Martin. You'd have never got a peg in today.. brrrr....

Laura said...

Magic - thoroughly enjoyed that walk from the comfort of my cosy chair - I might even come and do it in August!
btw Mike - thanks for the info about the maps but my memory map software seems not to support copying - I'll have to look for another way....
'shistsi' (!)- the word strangely reflects my mood.......

Tykelad said...

Nice pictures Mike, I love the drive up to Alston through Teesdale. Great scenery.

The Odyssee said...

What a lovely walk. I’m still suffering with a chest infection so i havn’t been out.
But seeing pictures like these spurs me on.
Thanks Mike.

Alan Sloman said...

Thirteen miles and Bruno going about barefoot???

You rotten to that dog, you are!

Nice piccies btw...

Al said...

I must agree, "the Best of Teesdale", I love it over there, skis, board. pushbike, motorbike or legs, its great! Best bit, a lot fewer folk than over here in't Lakes!

Mike Knipe said...

Tykelad - It would have been an interesting drive up to Alston Sunday morning. The Weardale road was closed all day and part of Monday because of ice.
Oddysee - Hope you're soon feeling better. there's a lot of it about y'know. Statins and alcohol is the answer.
Alan - superdawg gets a better grip in his bare paws, I'd considered bootees, but he would have blown away. Serves him right or what he said about the cat, though, anyway.
Al - I think we're just missing Cauldron Snout as a Teesdale feature. And the bar of the Landgon Beck Hotel... We'd have to paddle for Cauldron Snout, though... brrr... Should really do the walk in June when there'll be spring gentians on the sugar limestone.

Mike Knipe said...

Laura - Have you tried dumping a screen shot of whatever is on nyour screen (map...) - do CTRL and PrintScreen at the same time, open Paint and do Edit-Paste.
You can then draw a box around whatever bit of the map you want, Cut - close the paintbox image, don;t save it, opena new one a nd Paste. And Robert should be your mother's brother.

Mike Knipe said...

My Dad was given a rifle to guard those moors against Paratroops in the early part of WW2. He could only have shot one trooper, cos he only had one bullet. It seems they never put the roadsigns back. They may be in a loft in Skipton.