|The Pennine Way|
A ghostly Kirkcarrion tumulus in the mist
Yesterday the weather had turned fine for the afternoon - sunny with high fluffy clouds. It couldn't last - today dawned overcast and misty. I threaded my way back through the roadworks to where the Pennine Way met the A66 trunk road. There is now a tunnel under the road just for Pennine Way walkers! Once across the road, it is back to more moorland on a thin track through the heather. Note that Ravock Castle is merely the pile of stones left of an old shepherds hut. The rather dull walk leads to the concrete footbridge over Deepdale Beck where the path climbs alongside a stone wall and over some false crests to Race Yate Rigg. "Rigg" is the northern term for a ridge while I believe that "yate" is local dialect for "gate".
|Baldersdale||YH||0870 770 5888|
|Clove Lodge Cottage||B&B, bunkhouse||01833 650030|
From the rigg, all landmarks are abandoned as the Pennine Way heads downhill along a straightish route to join a road leading past Clove Lodge Farm. The path is defined enough to follow easily, but the mist made me glad to have a compass. At the road the alternative route via Bowes (the "Bowes Loop") joins this route. Even without the attractions of Bowes itself, the loop has some other charms - the interesting half-thatched, half-slated, mostly ruined buildings at Levy Pond, the sheltering gritstone cap on top of Goldsborough and some good bleak moorland. The only blots on the landscape are the old Air Ministry buildings around Stoney Keld and the Ministry of Defence land to the east on Kearton Rigg (much too well signposted).
|The Ancient Unicorn Inn||Pub, B&B||01833 628321|
The road dips down to Blackton Bridge (between the Baldersdale and Blackton reservoirs), passing the turn-off to the Blackton (Balderdale) Youth Hostel and with a good view of the grassy dam wall of Baldersdale Reservoir. From the bridge an old cart-track climbs to an iron gate, past Birk Hat farm and up through fields and meadows to a minor road. The meadows should look great in spring and summer since they are managed according to traditional techniques and cut late allowing plenty of wildflowers to grow.
Over the road the Pennine Way takes a marshy path through rushes up to the top of Hazelgarth Rigg (near a tumbled-down wall) and then descends into the dale of the Lune River. I followed the solid stone wall to my right to reach the end of the field, crossed diagonally over the corner of the next field and ended up above Kelton Bottom. Past the farm buildings at Beck Head, the path becomes a single-file route over the remains of hay-meadows leading down to a minor road. The road leads around a corner and to a bridge across the upper reaches of the Grassholme Reservoir with the impressive dam wall and spillway of Selset to the left. I stopped at a carpark across the bridge for lunch and to watch some anglers. The area between the bridge and Selset Weir upstream is a designated nature reserve and you are likely to see birds flocking here (especially the noisy black-headed gull).
A little way up from the bridge, the road comes to Grassholme Farm and through the farm yard where a clear path heads uphill across meadows to another minor road. The track across the road brought me to Wythes Hill Farm and past some holiday cottages back to rough pasture. The path leads through several small fields and past a field barn as it contours along the side of Harter Fell before breaking out into pasture above Middleton-in-Teesdale. To my right I could see the pine trees on Kirkcarrion (a tumulus or burial site of a Bronze Age chieftain) looming through the mist - well-deserving its reputation of being haunted. A little further down, I could see Middleton emerging through the mist and then joined a steep little track down to the road into the town.
I had just settled in to my room at the Talbot Hotel when I had a very pleasant surprise - the voice of my father (Arthur Fisk) just outside my door. My dad had come to Britain to visit some of his old haunts after 30 years in NZ. We had met in London where I showed him around for a couple of days while he got organised. Then we went our separate ways - me starting the Pennine Way while he went further north. I had given him a copy of my itinerary so that he could meet up with me if his schedule allowed. It turned out that he could actually spend a day with me on the Pennine Way.