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.

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