It must be Yule when this walk gets trotted out. This is the third year running we’ve done this Durham County Council guided walk. The idea is to circumnavigate Crook (thereby ensuring the minimum of development or travelling effort from Yours Truly) and have hot refreshments and , maybe a cake or two at St Catherine’s Community Centre in Crook afterwards, thereby boosting their income a bit.
Me and The Pooch did the reccy last Monday in claggy fog and drizzly drizzle so dense that I didn’t take the camera out at all. On the day – Wednesday – it was frosty and bright and sunny and the visibility allowed huge views of the Pennines and North Yorkshire Moors and so on..
23 People had fought their way to the start at St. Caths, plus Compulsory Dave and Neville – and me, of course, despite the efforts of the road resurfacers in Crook City Centre to prevent any access at all to the place. I suspect that several people are still, even now, searching for a parking spot.
The walk initially passes through areas only known to local doggy walkers and people who leave lots of litter everywhere but soon emerges into green countryside at the Western edge of the town using footpath No’ 49 (was my adopt-a-path route till the Council abandoned adopt-a-path) and then to Kitty’s Wood. Now Kitty’s Wood, some people may remember, was the subject of a recent access “misunderstanding” and now has seven brand spanky new public rights of way. Much of the credit for this probably lies with Steven Horner, sometime hillwalker and blogger, who organised the right sort of action particularly from the residents of Roddymoor who were specially irritated by their favourite walks being fenced-off. I must have an explore around here quite soon…
And thence to Billy Row where we lunched in the sun before climbing the 1.5 heart-attack slope up to Dowfold Hill – the 249 metre summit of our trundle – short and struggle against unfriendly contours but which delivers the now heavily panting walker a cracking view of Weardale and beyond.
Dowfold hill provides a brief hill-type experience on it’s Southern edge but soon merges with kale crops and Crook golf club’s new wind turbine (rumours that this is the first of a new grown-up crazy golf installation) – followed by fields to Annapoorna (Yes you read that right)!) where I found bits of clay pipe on Monday and where on Wednesday, the fields were glistening with gossamer and several little black spiders hitched a lift on my specs.
And then pony fields and more crops to the old tramway from Watergate to Bitchburn and back through our small bit of suburbia to the delights and hot coffee at St Cath’s – where Lucky had been brought to greet me.
Its 8 miles. Those who believe that the countryside around Crook can’t be up to much, surely, are wrong. Here’s a map. The new public footpaths don’t appear on it! (And note the OS’s deliberate mistake with the spot heights on Dowfold Hill just South of Stonechester)