Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Teesdale on a sunny Sunday - Harter Fell and Grassholme from Middleton-in-Teesdale

I am sure you have all enjoyed the great start to Spring, I have been taking every opportunity to tackle some local walks and enjoy the sun. Last weekend I headed out into Teesdale, a spectacular area with vast deserted swathes of land,  I have also been able to avoid the crowds each time I have been up there.

Middleton-in-Teesdale from the slopes of Harter Fell

I started off none too cleverly, missing where I wanted to park up near Selset reservoir, and ending up 10 miles or so down the road in Cumbria at the bottom of Warcop training area with Warcop and Mickle Fell before me! It was a nice drive along a quiet dales road through fairly desolate landscape, with the road running alongside the river Lune for much of the way so no complaints from me.

the river Lune snaking its way beside the road

So a quick u-turn and I made my way back to Middleton-In-Teesdale, parking up at the free car park. I headed out of town in a southerly direction and onto the Pennine Way.

looking up to Harter Fell

I had Harter Fell in my sights ahead of me, and the trees of Kirkcarrion to the left. The trees are of historical significance, marking a bronze age burial ground and as my guidebook correctly said, this was the pivotal reference of my walk - the trees were visible on the whole circuit.

the walled trees of Kirkcarrion

The climb up to Harter Fell was easy enough, and I stopped from time to time to look back at Teesdale as it opened up behind me. At the top I could finally see over to the other side, with the views stretching for miles over to the Howgill Fells, and with Grassholme reservoir just below me and Selset reservoir just beyond..

view to the south from the top of Harter Fell

The path made its way round the side of the fell, before dropping to Wythes Hil farm. At this point I saw this ominous sign - American Werewolf In London anyone??!

"beware the moors...."

Crossing the fields after the farm I crossed the only other person I was to see on this walk - amazing when you consider that it was such a beautiful day. Not my loss in any way!

Grassholme Reservoir

I soon reached Grassholme Reservoir, and I thought it was a lovely place. Alfred Wainwright definitely disagreed, condemning the creation of the series of reservoirs here and over in Balderdale a  few miles away. People were fishing, having picnics and sailing on the reservoir, but it was still very quiet. I think time has probably mellowed the edges and allowed the artificial lakes to blend into the landscape and establish a character of their own.

sailing on the reservoir

Unfortunately I didn't have time on my side so I gave the visitors centre a miss so that's one for another trip. The last section of the walk took me across a few more fields before following the Teesdale Railway footpath and crossing the impressive viaduct.

After the railway path there was a short and pleasant section alongside the Tees which brought me back to Middleton-In-Teesdale and the car.

For this walk I followed a route in the Cicerone guide to walks in County Durham, and I can recommend the book, having done many walks as described, the routes are easy to follow and highlight all the places of interest along the way.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Thanks For Reading!

I was very happy to notice that my number of readers passed a significant milestone this week! It is great to see that my walks and pictures have found an audience and I hope to keep up posting material of interest to you. I am sure that I am preaching to the converted but hopefully this site has inspired even the most experienced of you to revisit a walk from the past or have shown a favourite of yours from a different angle.

I'd like to share with you some links to sites that have helped me appreciate some of these fine walks and have all been an inspiration. There are tons more websites out there with great pictures and features on the Lakes and walking in general, but here are a few personal favourites. My Easter present to you all!

The Wainwright Society
The official Wainwright Society website. Features tons of information on all things Wainwright - the Lake District fells, Coast To Coast walk and an interactive forum with plenty of cool walking links.

My Wainwrights
This is a fantastic site that has some of the best pictures of the Lake District you are likely to see. There are so many walks and pictures on here, you could spend all day exploring.

The Teesdale Gallery
This website is run by Andy Beck who,you guessed it, runs the Teesdale Gallery! As well as information on the Gallery in Barnard Castle, Andy has an interesting take on Wainwright's original illustrations, as he turns them into original watercolour paintings, as you can see here.

Striding Edge
This is a photo diary by Sean McMahon with links to hundreds of walks and pictures to accompany. I like the layout and interactivity of the site, and have used Sean's routes on many occasions when deciding which route to follow myself.

Wainwright Wanderings
This is a site run by Dave & Edith Brown and is a really good photo diary of the walks they have done predominantly in the Lake District.

The Walking Englishman
A fantastic resource to walks all over the UK, including maps, route and pictures. Mike Brockhurst has put a huge amount of work into this site and I really appreciate it.

Coast To Coast
This is a website provided by a service to support you on long-distance walks for example carrying your bags from one stop to the next. I have never used them so I cannot endorse their services, but the website has some great information about stages on the Coast To Coast walk as well as other Long Distance Paths.

This is an iteractive map which has all the Wainwright Fells flagged. Once you have registered you can keep a record of the fells and routes you have walked, it's a pretty nice tool in my opinion.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Swaledale After Work

Wild flowers of Swaledale

Seeing as the Yorkshire Dales National Park is literally on the doorstep of my office it was high time for some exploration of some of the countryside locally. The local section of Wainwright's Coast To Coast walk passes from Reeth through Marske and then on to Richmond, through some great countryside through fields before passing Applegarth Scars. I headed out after work for an hour or so, from Marske to the Applegarth.

Applegarth from the road leaving Marske

The drive over to Marske was cool enough as it is, a tiny road that cuts through the fields and hills over the top of Applegarth Scar before descending into Marske.A lovely little village and Spring is probably the best time to see it with the meadows and fields full of new life.

I headed up for half a mile or so out of the village before following the Coast-To-Coast way.  I then left the road out onto the fields with the cliffs of Applegarth and Whitcliffe ahead of me, and the cliffs below Downholme Park on the other side of the Swale to the east.

It was a lovely walk across the fields and the sheep and lambs weren't too scared. I saw a couple of figures in the distance near the cairn which I soon reached.I followed the well made path for a short while until I reached the corner under Whitcliff Scar, before retracing my steps back to Marske and the car. What a great place to have on the doorstep.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Richmond Station Ales

Finally I got round to stopping off at the Richmond Brewing Company. Having worked in Richmond for months now, it's unforgiveable that I have only just visited the brewery.

River Swale at Richmond

This microbrewery is located in the Richmond Station building, which is a fantastic location perched above the Swale that is home to some local businesses including a cheesemaker, baker and other artisan foodmakers as well as cafe, restaurant, gallery and cinema. In short, it is a building that is well worth visiting with small businesses worth supporting, not to mention the cool walks you can make from here, either to Easby Abbey or along the banks of the Swale along the Coast To Coast route.

Easby Abbey

I picked up a couple of bottles of Richmond Station Ale and Stump Cross Ale, and they come highly recommended.

The Station Ale is a light ale that is easy to drink, whereas Stump Cross Ale is a lot richer with a real depth of taste. I'm looking forward to trying the Swale and Richmond Pale Ale next time. Go local!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Best of 2010 Part 6: Wansfell from Ambleside

the lower falls at Stockghyll
This was a nice short walk  from Ambleside up Wansfell via Stockghyll Force, which served a number of purposes apart from being a great ramble:
  • It was a perfect "day off in between longer walks"
  • It bagged us another Wainwright fell
  • We only had half a day spare
I could think of a ton more reasons, the most obvious being "it was there begging to be climbed", so thats what we did. It also marked my first foray into Wainwright's Far Eastern Fells, so well worth checking out.

The walk started off in Ambleside town centre, heading up along the road leading to Stockghyll Force. The pictures of the falls were taken on another walk I did with Claire in the Autumn.

After missing the blindingly obvious path past the falls, crag rat Rainer and myself soon found ourselves at the bottom of Wansfell, and looking up it didn't seem to far.

looking up at Wansfell Pike

The walk up the fell was quite a slog, albeit a short one.  But that's where the Wainwright geek in us took over and we just stopped for a short while at Wansfell Pike.

the path from Wansfell Pike to Wansfell

Instead of following the tourist route to Troutbeck we headed north-eastwards, following the undulating wall over to the summit of Wansfell proper. We had some fantastic views from here over the Kirkstone Pass to Red Screes and the fells beyond

Wansfell summit

Despite the crowds that were on Wansfell Pike we had the summit of Wansfell to ourselves - as well as the natives of course as pictured here.

We picked another route back down which took us right to the shores of Lake Windermere, the best picnic spot of last Summer in my opinion.

Coniston fells in the distance over Lake Windermere

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

A quick Baldersdale Tour

view of Goldsborough from the Hury reservoir

As I've been away  in Berlin no new walks this week.  Here are some photos from a great walk I did in Baldersdale last year. Alfred Wainwright is highly critical of the damming of the Tees to create the reservoirs, but I think time has been kind to the reservoirs, and they fit into the landscape very well now in my humble opinion.

Hury reservoir

I parked up at the Hury reservoir car park, then walked along the side of the reservoir towards Blackton reservoir. It was so quiet round there, hardly any tourists for such a picturesque spot.

Blackton reservoir with Shackleton in the distance

I then cut through a hole in the wall up the hill back towards the road, and got a bit lost in the fields on the way up. It started to rain and whilst the sky was getting darker and darker on one side it stayed clear to the east - maybe just it was just time to follow the gap in the cloud?

After going round a farm I head up the other side of the road towards Goldsborough. This brought me onto the Bowes loop of the Pennine Way. Apparently there is good climbing to be done here, but I was on my own here today.


It was a fairly short walk from the road to Goldsborough and not as boggy as expected - no complaints there.There were some great views from the summit of Goldsborough back to the reservoirs and over to Shacklesborough - another gritstone outcrop - in the distance.

I headed on towards a the Battle Hill firing ranges, and turned back towards the car at How Beck.

an old sheep fold at How Beck

The walk back would have been quick and easy but a couple of "Beware Bull In Field!" signs meant I took a little detour before finding my way back to the car.

rainbow over Hury reservoir
Altogether a great walk and very quiet - one to do when the bank holiday crowds are in the Lakes I reckon!