Plan A was to walk around the head of Weardale from Cowshill - a route mainly above 2000 feet. I had a sinking feeling that this was too ambitious for a short winter's day, so, at almost the last minute I decided to repeat the walk we did last Christmas. This provides 21 miles of easy walking which can be done at some speed, provided the tracks weren't frozen like wot they were last year.
And so, me, LTD, Bailey The Other Dog, Li Yang, and Diane and David, fresh from their trip to Annapurna Base Camp (no, really..) turned up at Wolsingham Train Station Car Park at dawn (roughly 8:00 a.m) Li Yang had brought a prezzie for Lucky; a lovely thermal/padded winter coat, which he changed into in the car park.
Conditions were somewhat better than last year (probably disastrous global warming, I shouldn't wonder) - and the tracks weren't slippery at all. There was a thin cover of fresh snow and an equally thin and lazy wind which didn't bother going around a body, but insinuated itself through the clothing in a more direct fashion. On the upside, it was nice and sunny.
So, we walked up through the mud and cowmuck of Thistlewood and onto the more solid moors, having First Lunch in the shelter of the trees in a suntrap by the broken fences of the WW2 ammo dump near Waskerley.
The walk up to Park Head was simply a matter of battering on up the gentle incline and battering off down the other side, turning on to the moor at the top of Crawleyside and finding a lovely suntrap in the quarry above Stanhope Dene for Lunch Number Two.
Riverside paths and roads and more pastures took us back to the start, arriving at about five o'clock, which is a bit quick for this group. (It's a bit quick for me too as it happens.) It went dark, of course but we did spot Santa on the Christmas Town Express which passed us going West as we went East. There IS a Santa after all. Those 8 year-olds at New Road Junior School in Earby in 1960 (ish) had lied. I sort of knew this all along, though. There were elves on the train too, so that proves it.....
21 miles and a tad over 2100 feet of upness.
LTD loves his new coat. Thanks Li Yang...