Tuesday 2 June 2020

Long Walks Are Back! Knock Fell - High Cup Nick

 Actually me and Li Yang walled from Willington to Durham, by the Weardale Way, which is mostly on the banks of the River Wear, and back to Willington on the Bishop - Brandon railway walk - just about 20 miles and we didn't meet any Government advisers at all and anybody who says we did is pushing False News.
So, the point is, that this isn't the first long walk since lockdown, technically, it's the second but this time we were joined by Diane, David and Bailey The Dog, thus re-instating the Long Walks team wot did the other long walks back when we were allowed to meet other people. 
 The idea for this one was to approach High Cup Nick from a different direction than the usual ones from Dufton or from Cow Green. Instead of that, from Cow Green we wandered up the track along the flank of Viewing Hill, nipped down to the River Tees above the reservoir and followed it to the locked gate on Moorhouse estate, at the confluence of the Tees with Troutbeck, which we followed up on to Knock Fell.

 This was all pretty straightforward and we met only two people and some very stressed trout who were clearly worrying about the singular lack of water in Trout Beck, although what there was, was probably fairly warm. Up on Knock Fell there was nobody at all apart from us enjoying the views of the Lakes and Solway and South to Penyghent and hills like that there.

 We continued not meeting anybody at all as we bashed the dried-up and tinderbox-like bogs down to Great Rundale Tarn and up the other side to the cairn and ruinous trig on Backstone Edge, where we did see just the one walker and his little dog (or was it a "her" and a little dog?) - at some distance away, it was hard to tell. An easy plod along the edge and we arrived high above High Cup Nick which was well populated but not really overcrowded. It was here on soft dry turf with an ariel view of  the High Cup Nick visitors that we had our second lunch. On long walks, we usually have two lunches, one at about 11:00 and another mid afternoon depending on how hungry we ware and whether or not it's raining. I had my egg custard, a banana and some seriously dark chocolate (my first lunch, by the Troutbeck had been a pork pie, some cashew nuts and some strength 4 Columbian filter coffee and LTD had a Bonio and some of Li Yang's gravy bones)

 To reduce the chances of any more human contact we took the "gorge" route back to the Pennine Way bridge over Maize Beck. This is a little bit longer but more interesting than the straightforward Pennine Way route and is, in fact, a Pennine Way alternative and, probably an older route than the PW. In days when the Pennine Way was a tough and boggy challenge fit only for real he-men with hairy packs and peaty legs and their bearded girlfriends, there was no bridge on the direct PW route from Cauldron Snout to High Cup Nick and, when the Maize Beck was in spate, the gorge route offered a safe alternative with a bridge over the gorge. Unfortunately, the risks of trying to cross a raging Maize Beck weren't always recognised and there were accidents, near misses and fatalities. So another bridge was built.

 We spent a little time poking around the gorge which seems as if it would be a lovely place to camp....   If we  And we also found the yellow flowers above. growing in the limestone walls. If anybody can identify these, that would be fab. I can't find them in my books of wild flowers.
The return to Cow Green from the PW bridge is a bit of a plod at the far end of a long walk and isn't improved by the new estate road for the Edwardian pretendees aka grouse shooters who visit Meldon Hill in the autumn but nevertheless eschew walking or  riding ponies up onto the fell in favour of Range Rovers.. In fact, it's a pain in the feet. In a few places the old flagstones, which were some kind of "improvement" on the previous boggy sloppyness which was the state of the PW in these parts back in the day when the Beatles were still publishing songs...
We finished about 7:00 o'clock. It seems that now that we're allowed to be in a group of up to six from different households, and outside and socially distant, we might be doing this kind of thing a bit more in the next few weeks....