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Sunday, 28 October 2012

Low Level Rantings in Upper Weardale

river wear near st johns chapel

Meanwhile, back in England..

At some point in the winter (look, I be expected to remember everything in detail) I’m doing a guided walk which for some reason only known to me about three months ago and which I’ve now completely forgotten, which (crikey, it’s a long sentence, this one, innit?) (Jim Perrin would be proud of the length and the nested ideas, but, maybe not with the English) (I mean the English language, not the race) (Its irritating this, isn’t it?), which goes from Wetsgate to Burnhope Reservoir and back along the fragrant (although, maybe not so fragrant in January) banks of the River Wear.


Anyway, I thought I’d better go and have a look at the proposed route, and it’s a good job that I did.

upper weardale

It started well enough and then, up a lane which goes onto the high fells, it came to a dead end where a path is supposed to leap off downhill in order to make further progress in a Westerly direction. There’s never been a path there. There’s a walled-up gate which looks as though it’s been like that for a hundred years, but no path. There’s a wall which has barbed wire on the top. I went back down the lane and through a gate into the field and, a bit further down the hill, came to a barbed wire fence. There’s no stile and never has been. Its a duff path. We won’t be going this way. I did do a bit of light swearing. I’m not supposed to do this on the actual walk.

a tunnel

in situ lump of flourspar

But, on the other side of the fence were some lead mine buildings, an old hush and a tunnel. Me and the dawg crept under a hole in the fence (we won’t be doing this on the guided walk) and inspected the flood debris on the valley floor. It was heaving with huge lumps of flourspar, some much too big to carry home. Interesting…. And there was what appeared to be the old mine shop. This was full of bits of iron, an old and retired pair of walking boots, a bicycle, and other “stuff”. there was also a hut which looked a bit like a small cricket pavilion. I didn’t investigate this – probably just as well because I met Charlie in Westgate later on and he told me that the place was too spooky and he suspected that somebody had died in there.  I must have a look at this before halloween…..

westgateburnhope 012

We continued.  The next bit went well, apart from being a bit sloppy and then, after a bit of a road walk, I came across some “shafts, disused”, one of which still had bits of winding gear and cables on the top and was partially built from cream-coloured bricks which seems to indicate a well-financed undertaking. Y’see. they’ve gone to the trouble of carting bricks miles up the dale from the Durham coalfield rather than just using a bit of locally quarried stone. This makes it a bit extravagant.

Then we got stuck again(more swearing) In the valley of the Ireshope Burn (also full of leadmining stuff), the path to Slack House was blocked with fencing. We won’t be going this way either. There is a way around, at the cost of extra roadwalking.

stepping stones river wear

The rest of the expedition was fine, and gets quite pretty. And there are two sets of lavvies for the ladies on the walk (the men usually just spray around freely)  The wander down the Dale by the river, with the leaves on the turn, was beautiful. We will be going this way.

One of the aspects of walking in County Durham is the high chance that you’ll stop for a long chat with somebody. A walk up the Deerness Valley can take much longer than planned. I’d forgotten about this. It happened twice on this walk, three times if you count the encounter with Charlie. I don’t mind, in fact its part of the enjoyment. Quite good fun, really….

I measured the walk at about ten miles. It’s eleven in the guided walks programme.  Probably just as well that I went for a look…..


Dawn said...

A sort of'much muttering' type of walk Mike?Some folk collect fluer spar and polish it up I think? Looks like you had fun though.

Alan R said...

All in all a good days swearing. Sorry, walking.

Mike Knipe said...

I did get a nice, round pebble of flourspar out of the beck, Dawn. It'd make a nice brooch. You can buy polished pieces....
Alan - maybe I was just in the mood... rackafrazzin... mutter....mumble...

Tony Bennett said...

I was a bit concerned during that first paragraph that you'd decided to adopt a sort of Henry James style of punctuation (or lack thereof) but then it settled down to your usual rambling style. Phew! I went down a hush in Swaledale recently - with the bike. It was my first time. Next time I'll leave the wheels at home. Apparantly the Romans did quite a lot of hushing in Wales. I guess they were trying to get the Celts to settle down.

Mike Knipe said...

It'd be a Hwch in Wales, Tony (I think) Greenlaws Hush is an interesting place, though, and you'd be OK on a bike, cos it's not very steep. I must go back there....

Tony Bennett said...

Well the Celts might have a called it a Hwch but the romans probably called it a silentium ;)