Posted by Frank Broughton on 2018-11-12


Six walkers (Annabelle, Bob, Bruce, Peter, and Richard and me) met up at Barningham on a grey, hazy but not unpleasant morning before taking the track up onto Barningham Moor. The first part of the walk was straightforward, following the moor wall to How Tallon, a Bronze Age burial mound where we stopped for coffee and to admire the misty views of Teesdale.

Leaving How Tallon, we walked along a shooters’ track to the head of Osmaril Gill while wondering what a line of men we could see on the far side of the Gill were up to, surely not grouse shooting on a Sunday? When we got closer we realised that in fact they were ferreting for rabbits.  Skirting the side of Osmaril Gill we made a beeline across a pathless but fortunately dry stretch of heather moor towards a line of grouse butts leading down to a large pond,  un-named on the map but presumably created for the benefit of local wildfowlers.

Soon afterwards we reached the track leading from Barningham to the Stang Forest where we stopped to consider options. When I’d checked the walk a couple of days previously I’d come across a number of obstacles in the shape of an (unmarked) diverted route through a forestry plantation and thick bracken , missing waymarkers, blocked gates, fallen trees and a section of dangerously eroded path. I therefore sent an email to the walkers’ group warning that I intended to change the route but the five adventurous souls with me decided they were up for a challenge so after discussion we stuck to plan A. In the event we reached Gill Beck without too much difficulty and managed to avoid a soaking while making the tricky stream crossing. To celebrate we stopped for lunch on a sunny bank above the Beck during a rare break in the cloud cover.

After lunch we tackled the path descending alongside Gill Beck towards the River Greta. This path, involved no less than seven footbridge crossings of the Beck. These were rather worryingly preceded by “use these bridges at your own risk” signs but thankfully the bridge timbers proved to be secure. Far more risky was a short stretch of badly eroded path above a steep slope just before we reached the Greta valley. Fortunately everyone negotiated the danger safely and soon we were following the (very overgrown) path down the south bank of the Greta to Crook’s House Farm north of Barningham. From there we walked along the farm-track east to Wilson House then took an (invisible and unsigned) footpath back towards our start point.

Congratulations to my fellow walkers who I think deserved some kind of campaign medal for successfully completing a challenging but I hope enjoyable route.  I’ve contacted Durham County Council (and Darlington Ramblers) to report the various obstacles on the public rights of way we used. We’ll see whether any action results.

Frank Broughton

Nov 7 2018

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