Things felt better this morning than yesterday morning. Partly because my leg seems to have settled down again, partly because the weather was good, partly because David was here, partly just because I’d decided it would. And it started well, after a good breakfast we met a gorgeous cocker poo, Willow, with her temporary adoptive parents William and Mary. They were interested in the walk, and we shared the mutual joy of teaching and seeing young people mature, whether as little ones as Mary does, or students in FE like William does. His description of his students coming back for their second year as young men instead of children reminded me so much of the year 6s starting in September appearing to have stretched in the summer holidays.
The first priority of today was to check out the waterfall after which our pub was named. High Force is, not surprisingly, a taller waterfall than Low Force that we saw yesterday. It’s a little way along the Pennine Way on one side of the river from which you can see it for free, or you can pay from the other side. I’ve mixed with people from Yorkshire for too long. Pennine Way it was. And, to be fair, we were going that way anyway. It was absolutely worth the walk. It might not be as high as Hardraw Falls that Karen and I saw a few days ago, but it was more dramatic, with a torrent of water thundering down the 21 metres to the pool below. I’m not especially into geology, but even I was taken with the clear layers of Whin Sill, sandstone and limestone. And then David pointed out that the limestone was formed 330 million years ago. That’s not something I can really comprehend. But he also read that at that time this particular bit of limestone was on the equator. The Pennines have moved all that way. It was a bit mind blowing.
I’d taken a very pragmatic stance on route planning for today. I wanted to see the waterfall, and I wanted to give David a glimpse of the amazing fells, but I also didn’t want to do a crazy long distance. So we aimed for between 15 and 16 miles, to take in as much as we could. If we’d followed the Pennine Way all the way it would have been well over 20 miles and we’d have climbed 3 peaks. We didn’t need to do that today.
We cleaned our boots as we walked past the falls, as there is a pernicious disease attacking the juniper trees in the area, carried by footwear amongst other things. And then followed the Tees upwards as it galloped towards the falls. The weather was glorious for walking, enough sunshine to make the colours ping, but cool.
The heather is almost out, so the fells across from the path were burgeoning purple. It felt how I imagine Scotland will be, with the wide spaces, the high fells and the water. It made me excited for that stage to come.
We crossed the Tees for the last time and headed out to follow the road for a while. This is hardly a grim bit of traffic dodging tarmac though. It was a quiet route climbing up from Forest in Teesdale to Langdon Beck and then up to the fells. The views were still amazing.
I always try to stop at about 6 miles or 2 hours, whichever comes first. But as we climbed higher then wind got up and the temperature dropped. Sitting in that would not be ideal, so we waited a bit until we had the shelter of an old barn to nestle against. A cup of tea and an extra layer made all the difference.
This is wild land. Really exposed, high and remote. There were snow markers lining the roads giving an indication of how bleak it must be in winter. We were so lucky to have a clear fine day to see it. As I was looking down at the farmhouses sparsely scattered over the landscape, I wondered whether the people who live here look at this place with the same wonder as we do.
I was keen to get off the road if we could, and having made one attempt to use a footpath that didn’t come to anything, we approached the next option more tentatively. But there it was, a path climbing up over the fell. We continued to walk almost to the top, and then at nearly 2000 feet we sat and had our lunch. It felt like the whole world was in front of us, the sun was shining and life couldn’t get much better. I could even have a moment of snoozing out in the wildest place. The fell in front of us is named Hardship. It absolutely wasn’t.
Then back onto the road for a bit, gradually working our way down the hill that took 10 miles to climb. We left County Durham, and entered Cumbria, though I won’t be there for long. The last little section of the walk was off the road again, walking along the infant river Tyne. Lovely to see lots of people enjoying the river, including an intriguing trio of men in wet suits who were maybe going to slide down the water without a kayak. The aroma that was going down river with them suggested that they were having the help of relaxing substances to assist their journey.
One of the less enjoyable aspects of walking near roads is the amount of roadkill that I see. Mainly rabbits, but over the last months I’ve seen all sorts of deceased animals and birds, including a decapitated pheasant this afternoon, its head looking up at us balefully, as if confused that it was no longer attached to its feathery body. But the most unpleasant was not on the road, instead at the entrance to one of the kissing gates on the path just before Garrigill. A large dead sheep, partly decomposed. We had to step over it to open the gate, holding our breath. I didn’t pause for a photo.
But what I did do is get an ice cream photo in, for my excitable ice cream followers. Nothing too fancy, as it was the best that Garrigill post office could offer. But a Cadbury’s flake cornetto is certainly acceptable after 16 miles.
Garrigill appears to do things a bit differently. Asked whether she sold beer, the shop assistant went next door and grabbed a couple of bottles of Doom Bar. She asked if they were ok. We fervently agreed, and she sold them to us laughing, saying that they were her dad’s bottles. Then the front door of our bed and breakfast was left open for us to let ourselves in, as the landlady was out at work. She’d kindly made us a meal that was left in a fridge in our room, ready for us to reheat in a microwave. Worked for us!
Distance travelled: 15.8 miles
Total ascent: 1523 feet
Calories burned: 2235 calories
Local tipple: her dad’s Doom Bar
Dinner at East View B and B - tasty
Vegetable stew with dumplings
Chocolate fudge cake and cream
Video of the day