Walk completed August 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 50 – Wednesday, July 20, 2011 – Bowes to High Force, 14 miles

A close look at my map showed that the Pennine Way would lead James and me through marshlands. Names like Levy Pool, Blackpool Sike, and Kelton Bottom told me I don’t want to go there after all the rain we’ve had. But the decision was sealed when I saw that Needless Bridge eventually led to Swallow Hole. I didn’t want to be even half swallowed.

View from railway path
We needed an alterative route. The route I found follows a minor road north to a dismantled railroad bed now known as the Tees Railway Path. The footing on the former railway bed was not only better, but it was a beautiful walk, mostly flat, connecting lovely villages – much more fun than sinking in a soggy moor, although probably less exciting.

The day started out mostly dry, with only slight sprinkles not even requiring rain protection. As we approached the village Cotherstone, I was impressed by the large number of mansions, or what seem to be called manors here – big, old, stately homes, with huge gardens. They even get milk delivery.

As we approached the affluent village of Romaldkirk, we were joined by John, from Northern Ireland, who had been following us since we joined the track, but who couldn’t catch us until I stopped to remove my long sleeve shirt in the ever-warming day. John used to be a sheep farmer, but now that he is retired he walks a lot in sunny England. He also walks a lot when it’s not sunny, but today he was limiting himself to 10 miles.

Bridge over River Tees
I had made plans with Dr. George and Lady Ann to meet me at Middleton-in-Teesdale at 5:00 pm. Because of the good footing on the Tees Railway Path, James and I arrived there at 1:30. James had to continue on, and I was faced with the choice of joining him or sitting in the now sunny beer garden of the local pub for 3½ hours. Since it had become a lovely day, and James’ route followed the River Tees, I decided to continue on. I telephoned George and asked him to meet me at the High Force Hotel, near a large waterfall known as High Force, 5 miles beyond Middleton-in-Teesdale.

Low Force
The peat-covered hills which are the source of the Tees leech tannins into the river and give it the color of…well, tea. Most of the walk was delightful, passing increasing rapids and a small waterfall known as Low Force. Then James read in the guidebook that in order to view High Force, a £2 fee must be paid. With Yosemite and Zion in my backyards, I am offended by having to pay anything to see a waterfall – certainly one that can’t possibly compare to what I have at home, except maybe for the color. In any case, we decided to walk close to High Force and then detour to the nearby hotel where we would wait until George and Ann arrived.
Twenty minutes before reaching the hotel, the heaviest rain I’ve experienced since Hartland Quay came down. Upon reaching the hotel, James and I were totally soaked, and sought refuge in the hotel. The hotel was closed. With heavy rain still falling, and no shelter available, James continued on to his B&B, and I stood waiting for George and Ann, who arrived only 10 minutes later. But I was still soaked, and they have a lovely, clean, new car.

George thought for a moment about returning to the city to rent a car, but remembered that Ann had the foresight to bring a change of clothes for me. With dry clothes on, I was welcomed into their car, and even treated to a nice tour on the drive to their home. I am now clean and dry, well-fed, and looking forward to walking with George over the next few days without carrying a heavy pack. So that’s today’s puzzle for you – which am I looking forward to more, walking with George or no heavy pack?

© 2011 Ken Klug

1 comment:

  1. Heavy pack wins, sorry Doc, but it's been a loong, soggy walk!