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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

North Pennine Fun in the Sun

brian on a cup-marked rock
In view of the fact that there seems to be a fat ole sun in the sky that keeps falling….  I decided that after a day of my plans to be tramping through the heather with my best girl on my arm (ashley, it’s a dog..) had been frustrated by domestic duties and in view of the fact that the clocks had been interfered with for the summertime season, I would, in fact, escape to the Pennines. My afternoon bagging target was Harwood Carrs – a 502 metre heathery flat that had somehow missed out on the delicate caress of the knipe boots and paws. The late afternoon plod up the shooters track to a handy jumping off point for the shy little summit cairn, in , frankly, hot sun, and dressed in shorts and a short-sleeved base layer, was an absolute joy.
one of three curricks
As the evening crept in, my second target was to be Knockshield Moor, a 574 metre flat-topped heather moor just a bit North from Killhope law. I marched along Jacob’s Tea Trail, noting dawn’s bootprints from the other week…. and, as I rounded the hillside, the object of my attentions came into view. From the summit sprouted a huuuuuge cloud of white smoke. There were vehicles moving around and people, apparently jumping up and down on my summit. It was on fire. They were burning the heather. I could come back later… Instead , I visited Three Curricks – that is three or maybve four cairns on the hillside, and, later, watched the sun go down behind The Dodd, the sky colours changing subtly each minute. It was quite remarkable (which is probably why I’m remarking on it)
sunset 1 sunset 2
sunset 3 sunset 4

Summer evening birds were calling (curlew, snipe, oyster catchers, plover, lapwings, skylarks, meadow pipits and grouse). Thats enough of Pink Floyd anyway…
gibsons cave bowlees
So this afternoon, I met Brian at Bowlees and we abandoned the knipemobile in the car park there and drove up to Swinhope Head, at the summit of the road between Teesdale and Weardale. The objective for today was to have a look for some possible rock art, in the form of cup and ring markings at a bouldery outcrop on the side of James Hill, at just around the 2000 foot contour. As we were starting a hundred or so feet higher than this, the walk to the boulders would be downhill, as would the six mile return trip to Bowlees, a cracking plan I’m sure you may agree. I’d heard about a possible hoard of cup and ring marks from one of the walkers on the last DCC guided walk and I determined to go for a look. (He also gave me some interesting hill routes through the Co Durham Pennines which taken together form a chain, so when I get time, I’ll be looking at those, too. Thanks Eddie.
cup stone cup stones 009
big cup (more of a mug, really..) cup stones 004
We strode over the tussocks and sphagnum, noting the wildlife in and around the boggy pools (a lizard, some water boatmen and beetles and a large party of frogs, apparently having a party. We soon came to the boulders and discovered that they were indeed covered in cups, but no rings. In fact, there were more cups than you could shake a walking pole at. It would seem, though, that the gritstone seems to be in two or more layers and the softer, top layer (which is still relatively hard, should you collide with it) is worn into cups by some natural process. It could well be, of course , that some of the cups are natural and others are man-made. But there’s a lot of cups. No, I mean loads of them. Really.. a lot of cups. Some had water in them. Others had stones or a layer of grit. I don’t believe I’ve seen so many of these things in one place before. We thought they were probably natural, or mainly natural, but, to be fair, I have no idea. If anybody has any views about this group of rocks, and whether or not this is the hand of man, I’d be more than interested to hear.
looking for millstones
We also had a look for some millstones which Brian had found hereabout on an earlier visit, but we found none, and, later decided that the outcrop with the milstones was a bit further along the contour.
We returned via Flushmere – which has lots of hushes and holes and bell pits and spoil heaps as it happens, and Broadley Gate farm which doesn’t.
The first trip was about 9 miles and this one was about 6…
Distant bells, new mown grass smells soo  sweet…  (stoppit)
Is this the summer? Will it last till summer, or will winter be back next week?


Alan R said...

You lucky person getting out in the sun. Shorts as well eh!
Nice sunset pics.
Eddies route sounds interesting. Looking forward to reading that.
I believe summer is leaving us on saturday for a short holiday.

chrissiedixie said...

What lovely, springy, summery photos there. I've heard at least two people talking about snow for Easter...

Phil said...

They look like natural 'oles to me. When I was walking in Glen Gour a few years back I noticed lots of similar holes in the rock bed of the river with pebbles swirled by the stream scouring them ever deeper. I guess that with water and debris flowing under ice there would be even more eddies and currents producing a similar effect.


Mike Knipe said...

I'll be paying Eddie's "chain" a bit more attention later this year, I think, Alan.
Chrissie - Will I need my crampons for Easter? (Ashley, I'm getting a bit of a tan...)
The odd thing is, Phil, that not all the holes are on horizontal surfaces, some are on the vertical. Some can be explained by the prescence of water and grit or small stones plus wind action and would be post-glacial and still in the process of being formed. The gritstone is extremely hard, though and in more than one layer. There are glacial striations on the rocks, though, plus a half-finished stone gatepost with drill marks and, further along the edge, some in-situ millstones - all, probably Victorian.

Phil said...

Well ... what do I know about 'oles? Nuffink.