Long Walks in May 2019

 

1 May 2019 Trentabank & Macc Forest Leader: Mike & Linda, Length of walk: 9 miles, Driving Distance: 22 miles, Number walking: 28

The turnout for this walk was the highest since January 2014 as new member John Costello turned up as we set off from the car park by the Trentabank reservoir. There was no headcount at the start; the count of the receipts was a proxy for the actual number but this proved faulty. When the back marker insisted that he could accurately count a group of more than 24, it was revealed that one walker had not paid at the outset. Vindication!

The walk included a large number of hills starting with the climb through Macclesfield Forest to the summit of Shutlingsloe. Eight of the walkers had notes from their mums allowing them to walk round the hill rather than up it and down again. The majority group thus had the privilege during their coffee stop of looking down on the roundabouters and having an excellent view of the mist over the surrounding peaks.

On the descent from Shutlingsloe, the back markers chatted to a young couple following them who were practising for the Yorkshire Three Peak challenge. They were walking through the forest following a map from the ranger centre and, although they had just climbed and descended Shutlingsloe, the hill didn’t feature on their map at all. They took the advice to go back to the forest.

The national press this morning contained a report saying that pensioners were afraid to go out because of potholes in pavements. Had they seen the conditions on today’s ascent and descent, they would have been mightily impressed. Well done you oldies!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that coming to the bottom of a hill before the end of a walk means that another hill will arrive soon. The group didn’t have long to wait. First they passed through the yard of Clough House Farm, where a chained Alsatian dog seemed intent on breaking free to savage a sheep that was receiving attention. Then they paused for a picture on the bridge where space was so limited that some walkers had to stand in the stream. This left Cumberland Clough with its path of loose rubble and water pouring down it as the slope of choice. When the group paused by the bridge where the path turns up to the right, Ralph suggested a shortcut which involved climbing a very steep hill quickly rather than meandering round it over a longer distance. The rest at the top was very welcome.

By this time the plan to eat at the (still closed) Cat & Fiddle was abandoned and a broken-down wall provided the seating for the alternative lunch stop. This left a large section of moor to cover before reaching the closed pub and starting to come down again into the forest. At this point the intermittent rain combined with the cold to numb the extremities as the group passed through the area known as Bottom of the Oven. This day the oven was switched off.

The leader advised that after the Cat & Fiddle, the walk was mostly downhill; the climb up to Forest Chapel was one of the exceptions. A chance find of a furry item with a rubber band at one end was revealed as the tail of a lamb. The band had done its job of cutting off the blood supply causing the tail to drop off. A suggested reason for this practise was to avoid dags*.

On the final section the group walked through the forest until they came to the Trentabank reservoir. On this visit water was gushing down all the streams and drains giving hope that the supply will last if another great drought occurs in 2019.

*DAG dirty tuft on a sheep [3 letter Scrabble word]

Walking Holiday in Teesdale Tuesday May 14th   Length of walk: 6 miles, Number walking: 22

Everyone that was expected arrived at Balderhead Reservoir after a fairly quite journey up the M6 and a splendid scenic route across the North Pennines. A very pleasant lunch was had on the Reservoir wall before setting off in warm sunshine to cross the Dam Head and subsequently down to Blackton Bridge. A short ascent led to West Friar House and Goldsborough Moor, an easy amble along the track to Willoughby Hall, before descending to Hury Reservoir for a pleasant coffee stop.

A further sojourn along the banks of the Hury and Blackton Reservoirs took us to Hannah’s Meadows at High Birk Hatt. This was the dream of the late Hannah Hauxwell of television fame, and the party spent a few minutes in a small museum dedicated to her before returning to the cars.

A promising start to the holiday and enough to build an appetite for the first of three feasts to come!

The overriding memory today, and, as it transpired, for the rest of the week was the splendid array of colours featured in an abundance of wild flowers – too numerous to catalogue!

Walking Holiday in Teesdale Wednesday May 15th   Length of walk: 11.5 miles, Number walking: 25

Almost a full complement set out from The Teesdale Hotel this morning for another walk in warm sunshine. We enjoyed the delights of the River Tees for the first part of the day before ascending at East Crossthwaite across meadows to Holwick hamlet. The sign advertising the local pub had one or two drooling but all soldiered onwards and upwards through Holwick Scars and on to

Crooks o’Green Fell. With some relief (it was quite warm) we reached Brown Dodd and levelled out a bit before a descent to Pin Gate and Intake Hill. The Tuck Shop – which has offered vittals to myriads of Pennine Wayers, was unable to supply Ice Cream for a bunch of Pensioners who stoically refused to be downcast at this deprivation. There is nothing wrong with H2O! Happily on their way, they soon reached Intake Hill and the road back into Middleton. There is something special about the chat at the end of a very satisfactory experience and smiles were in abundance again.

An excellent, if fairly tiring, day and many memories of the wonderful Teesdale environment. All were ready to enjoy another dinner followed by the regular highlight of Julie’s Quiz! This in the end was a hard-fought battle within the medical profession.

Walking Holiday in Teesdale Thursday May 16th   Length of walk: 5 or 6.5 miles, Number walking: 25

Back to reservoirs today. A 10 mile drive took us well up into the moors where we parked beside Cow Green Reservoir. The weather was still sunny but a cool breeze blowing across the Pennine heights led to the donning of extra layers for a few. A walk along the track took us to the Dam Head from where options were available to descend Cauldron Snout at leisure. Despite the recent dry weather, we were able to appreciate fully the majesty of this, the highest waterfall in the land! It seemed to be in full spate and those brave souls who ventured to the bottom were able to witness all of its splendour. After lunch by the Falls, a walk back along the track and later the ‘Coast’ took us to the Boat House and Car Park.

There was then an option to revisit Bowlees and Low Force, with tea and cake at the Visitor Centre. The falls, again, were splendid and most of the group took advantage to reprise a happy memory of last year.

The evening highlight, after the ‘feast’, was the ‘Annual Music festival’.

Splendidly led by our resident Combo, all were in fine voice. This year we had two new additions to our plethora of talent and both were able to make for a wonderful nights entertainment, along with the aforementioned ‘Combo’.

Our thanks really do go to Keith, Paul, Christine on keyboard and the new recruits Bob and Stephen for making a great end to the social side of the holiday. So much ability!

Walking Holiday in Teesdale Friday May 17th   Length of walk: 7.5 miles, Number walking: 22

A final hearty breakfast and we had to leave the Teesdale for our last walk and the journey home.

Because of prior commitments a few had to miss this last endeavour – which was a pity because it proved to be another excellent day. Starting in Bowes we walked along the River Greta as far as God’s Bridge – an exhilarating experience leading to wistful thinking of idyllic sunbathing, whilst listening to the rippling water and the omnipresent cries of lapwings, skylarks, grouse et al, together with the ubiquitous bleating of new born lambs.

A last look at the moors then ensued, as we crossed under the A66 and went up to the non-existent Ravock Castle. From here we traversed Bowes moor and on through the Military Chemical Storage Site at West Stoney Keld. However, try as we might, we could not see any sheep giving off a green glow, so took it we were safe!

Our peregrinations ended at Bowes Castle – a physical incarnation of our English Heritage, to compliment all the natural manifestations witnessed over the last four days.