Walks in the North Pennines
There are places which on first impression seem to hold little visual appeal, yet grow on you the more you get to know them. The North Pennines is just such a place. The second largest of Britain's 41 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it is one of the most remote and unspoilt regions in the country. This is a landscape of high, wild moorland, cut through by green, settled dales; a land where you can wander for miles and meet not another soul. Though the North Pennines can hardly compete at a photogenic level with landscapes such as the Lakes, spend some time here and you'll begin to appreciate the less obvious qualities and unique appeal of this land. This short and sweet outing will show you what you're missing.
1Middleton-in-Teesdale, the unofficial capital and walking center of Teesdale, has its origins in lead mining. Indeed, this area used to be the worlds greatest producer of the metal.
From the town centre, take the road signposted for Brough, and follow it (Bridge Street) down to and across The Tees, then uphill a short way beyond. Where the road bends left (with another smaller road off to the right), you'll pick up the Pennine Way. The path starts as a bridleway, but you soon bear right on an indistinct footpath, keeping well away from the hilltop plantation of Kirkcamon (a very distinctive landmark). The path climbs steadily to crest the shoulder of Harter Fell, then briefly follows the contours of the hillside before descending gently to the Farm of Wythes Hill. From the Farm follow the access road to the B2676.
2The PennineWay continues on the other side of the road, and runs through fields to reach Grassholme Farm. Turn left as you leave the Farm to follow a minor road across Grassholme Bridge.
3Climb steeply uphill from the reservoir, but very soon go through a gate on the left to enter the Grassholme Reservoir Enclosure.
A footpath encircles the water, making a peaceful shore walk, with footbridges across each of the becks. Follow the path along to the visitor centre near the reservoir dam.
If you've the time (and interest), it's worth popping in to learn a bit about this and other Northumbrian reservoirs.
4From the visitor centre, follow the access road uphill and turn left along a minor road. At the next road junction, about O.5km along the road, take the footpath on the left. There is no trodden path across the field, so follow the direction of the sign carefully, heading downhill to cross a small beck.
From there walk uphill to Westfield House, and along the access road to meet a narrow lane. Turn right towards the railway viaduct, which crosses the deep gorge of the River Lune.
This five-arched viaduct was built in 1848 for the Tees Valley Railway, 6 miles of which is now a path for use by walkers, cyclists and horseriders, and one of several converted Railway Paths in County Durham.
5Turn left along the old railway trackbed, and then right, as indicated by a sign, for Middleton. Pass a farm to reach a road, turn left and then right to pickup a field path leading to the RiverTees.
Follow the riverside path back to the road bridge and turn right to walk back into town.
Article by Fiona Barltop
Reproduced with kind permission from TRAIL magazine