|The Pennine Way|
High Force waterfall (21m) in the mist
The next morning, my dad and I met for breakfast and then walked back across the River Tees to the Pennine Way. The morning was extremely foggy with visibility less than 50 metres at times (see the above photo). Just after the bridge we turned down a well-trod track that lasted for about 500 metres until we reached a barn by the first stream. Beyond the stream the path becomes less obvious but is still easy to follow. It leads along an old lane as far as Crook Hill (a mound between the Pennine Way and the river) before taking to fields and a traverse along Unthank Bank. "Unthank" comes from the Anglo-Saxon Unthances, and refers to a farm once occupied by squatters. The weather prevented us seeing much but the terrain about us was quite pretty.
|Brunswick House||B&B||01833 640393|
|16 Market Place||B&B||01833 640300|
|The Talbot Hotel||Pub||01833 641026|
The path takes a steep drop down to a footbridge over Rowton Beck and the river bank of the Tees. Peep under the footbridge to see a set of old stepping stones. Often we could not see the river at all but the rushing noise of its waters was clear. At Scoberry Bridge, the bed of the Tees becomes rockier with the force of the water demonstrated by the many pockmarks in the boulders. We detoured over the swinging suspension bridge of Wynch Bridge to a local picnic area for lunch. The bridge was built in 1830 to replace a 1704 bridge that collapsed in 1820, killing a local miner. From our lunch spot we could hear the roar of the Low Force waterfalls just upriver.
Back over the bridge, we continued up the river. Low Force is a series of 1 metre high steps in the river bed surrounded by intriguing columns of dolerite and woodlands on the Durham side. Along this section of the Tees the river runs in a rocky bed and there are many platforms and islands in the river. At one point a rocky island and stubborn riverbanks form a trench through which some of the river is forced. Holwick Head Bridge is the next landmark. The sound of High Force waterfall is just audible here and gets steadily louder. If you want to visit the base of High Force then a detour over the bridge and up to High Force Hotel can be taken (1 kilometre each way along a pleasant path and a minor road). There is a small fee to use the path from the hotel that takes you both to the pool at the base of the waterfall and to the waterfall's top (across from the Pennine Way). My first view of High Force was from this path on a previous visit to Teesdale.
|High Force Hotel||Hotel||01833 622222|
We continued on up the valley, diagonally away from the river bank and over a stile to enter the Teesdale National Nature Reserve. The trees around us were all old junipers. Juniper wood was used to make the best charcoal to use in the making of gunpowder. The berries were harvested to flavour London gin (gin is from the French for juniper, 'genevier'). Soon the noise of the falls was all around us and we detoured to the edge of the gorge to get a glimpse of High Force through the mist. I took a photo of my dad with the misty High Force behind him then we moved onto the top of the falls. Two views of the waterfall without the mist are at my Big Picture Gallery (the next page of the index points to the other waterfall image). These are large images best viewed at 800 by 600 screen resolution.
Langdon Beck Hotel
Somewhere after High Force the mist cleared - just in time for us to get a view of the scarred hillside on the right where a quarry sliced into the hill. This was compensated by a glimpse of the double fall of Bleabeck Force up on the left hand hillside. Past Pasture Foot the track began to rise up to Bracken Rigg (not much bracken, plenty of juniper bushes) where we could look back to the ledges of Dine Holm Scar and see a bit of the route I was to take the next day. A little further and we met a wall which we followed along rocky outcrops to Cronkley Farm.
From the farm we followed the access road down to a bridge over the Tees and then a path up the fine Langdon Beck to just before Saur Bridge. Here we branched off up to Knot Hill Farm where my father was to stay the night. However there was no one at the farm so he accompanied me down to the road (B6277), past the Langdon Beck Youth Hostel (splendid building) and around to the Langdon Beck Hotel. There the barman told us that the farmer's wife would be back soon so dad and I stayed in the bar for an hour before he wandered back to the farm and I settled into my room. Later he returned to the hotel where we had a nice dinner before going our separate ways.