Some readers with healthy memories might remember my plan for getting fit for the TGO Chally. This partly involved walking a bit further on each of the months running up to May 2018. February’s distance was to be 14 miles.
And so, yesterday, in spring-like weather, me and LTD went up the Dale (That’s Weardale by the way) – not too far – just as far as Frosterley and we walked up field paths to Hill End, a hamlet perched on the end of a ..er…..hill… and then up onto the heather moor to the top of Catterick Hill. Catterick has a particularly lovely top for the sitting in warm sunshine, out of the cool breeze scoffing a banana whilst scouring the view of the higher bits of the Pennines beyond – James’s Hill being the huge heathery lump that blocks the view of the Atlantic Ocean, North Wales and, indeed, Urmston (there’s two ways you can go)
Whilst we waited for a shepherd to finish feeding his sheep on the moor below, this, is, in fact, what we did. The edge of Catterick has a little outcrop which contains a huge amount of crystals – prpbably calcite or quartz, or maybe, both. It’s all very pretty stuff.
After the shepherd had gone, we passed below the feeding sheep, just ut of their sight (didn;t want to disturb their elevenses) and on to the wide-open spaces of Turf Hill, which has a grassy track and gentle contours which provide an episode of superb fellwalking right up to the cairn and trig on Carrs Top where there are outcrops and boulders suitable for sitting in the sun eating chicken and tomato butties.
After a short snoozathon in warm(ish) sunshine, we progressed upwards in a on easy ground passing the ruins of a stone hut which had been rebuilt into a square shelter, entry being gained by scrambling over the wall with exit being a similar scramble with no dignity involved.
After this, there was snow-filled peat hags and a fence to follow to the top of Snowhope Hill, at just a smidge above 2000 feet.
To return, we handrailed Bollihope Burn whilst being occasionally monitored by a chap on an ATV just on the skyline above. At least one of the old paths on the South side of Bollihope Burn now sports a wide grouse-shooters road which seems to end in some kind of car park high up on the fell.
We followed Bollihope Burn all the way down through the picnic spots and on to the Weardale Way, thorugh Cowboy Pass and White Kirkley to Broadwood quarry, where the plan was to cross the footbridge into Frosterley.
But the bridge had a hole in it. I’d passed this way at the winter solstice in 2016, have had a wet and breezy night at a camp at Fine Burn. All watercourses were heavily in spate and the main road bridge closed as I arrived as it was thought to be in some danger of collapse, having been whacked by a tree floating down the Wear. So, I diverted to the footbridge, just a bit downstream. This was closed too, but, passable with little apparent risk. Obviously, shortly after I crossed, it must have collapsed. (dhuhh)
As it happens, there’s another bridge not to far downstream. This is a huge, steel and concrete affair, built to take quarry wagons and would take some shifting.
So, that’s the first walk done. 14 Miles and 2100 feet of up. Must take an extra butty for this type of thing. I haven’t yet got a 17 mile route, but I do have a 20 mile one – around the Dun Fells and Cross Fell from Garrigill. And I need some walks with increasing numbers of contours.
But it’s a reasonable start, I think. Map below. Not to be used for navigation. (dhuhh)