Leader : Ian Robb. Distance : 7 miles.
Left click route & profile to enlarge
Bill reports :-
When all were assembled at the curiously named Hanging Shaw car park we numbered 22, just right for a game of football. However in the absence of a whistle blowing arbiter or the currently hotly debated VAR it was clear our walk would win out.
The route for the day was to take us on a circumnavigation of the famous Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve. Renowned, among other things, for a number of rare alpine plants that are relics of the last ice age, including the alpine bistort which grows along the banks of the river the area is a national treasure, One important reason for this is the low intensity, traditional husbandry and livestock farming prevalent in the area.
So all booted up we crossed the surprisingly busy A6277 Alston road and dropped down a comfortable grassy track to cross a simple wooden planked footbridge over the busting Tees after which as we continued south we joined company for a while with that grand old dame of walks, The Pennine Way. It was around this point that our leader for the day pointing ahead announced in that well know leader’s forked tongue double speak that the hill in front of us was the only one of the day. It now became clear why at the outset he had been surreptitiously offering walking poles to those without such tools.
Shortly after leaving the Pennine Way we turned left and commenced ‘The only hill of the day’ and after about a mile or so and 500 feet of gentle scrambling we summited near an area named Thistle Green. Conditions underfoot had been mixed with ground in places damp and boggy but where modern day trods had been introduced in places to aid wanderers. Isolated harbingers of boulder hopping ahead appeared from time to time but all were negotiated without mishap.
The view from the top made the climb so very worthwhile with the magnificent Cow Green reservoir glimmering in the sunshine in the distance to our left and the river Tees bounded by Falcon Clints directly below playing host to a further section of the Pennine Way.
Lunch was called at a delightful spot adjacent Skyer Beck where some members, in-between munching their corned beef sarnies, took the opportunity to soak their aching feet in its cooling waters. A lovely interlude.
And then as they say, it was all downhill’ and in the strictly geological and geographical sense it was- if only life was so simple. The track down to the southern banks of the Tees was indistinct (so said our leader) and he was correct. In places rough grass tufts made life a little difficult and care had to be taken when traversing the many small but tricky boulder fields. But time was not of the essence so everyone enjoyed the slight scramble to water level. All that is except for your humble scribe who succeeded in becoming totally immobilised after stepping into a little Teesdale ’quick mud’. However rescue was at hand and the kiss of life was not called into use. A salutary warning however of potential hazards to anyone planning on taking remote walks alone
We were now on our homeward leg which in simple terms was to follow the lovely Tees to the little bridge we crossed earlier in the day. This section proved just a little challenging in places with boulder hopping and dodgy duckboards needing careful negotiating. Unfortunately we had a faller at the last water jump but happily without injury so eventually we all arrived safe and sound to cross the bridge and make the last climb to our waiting chariots. In fact a nice day out in wonderful weather and good company.
Our medicinal needs were catered for in the bar of the High Force Hotel.