Lunedale 19 July 2018

Posted by Graham Rogers on 2018-07-21

Lunedale 19 July 2018

“A walk from scratch”

Eight of us gathered in Middleton-in-Teesdale in anticipation of a gentle stroll on a glorious summer morning. We were not to be disappointed. “Etched in the memory” is how Steve Charlton described it. The walk commences by following the Tees downstream from Tees Bridge and then climbs across a number of fields to emerge on to the B6277 at Lonton and then crosses the road to access a section of the old Barnard Castle to Middleton branch line with its impressive five-arched viaduct. The route then follows pathways and open land up to the Middleton Road and, within a quarter of a mile, drops down to the visitor centre at Grassholme Reservoir. It is an impressive piece of water; equally impressive is the four mile enclosure wall, completed in 1915 and as good as the day it was built. The permissive path along the north shore is far more preferable to the south bank even though it adds distance to the walk. A leisurely lunch was taken at the end of the reservoir at Grassholme Bridge.

The remainder of the walk is a nice contrast. It leads up to Grassholme Farm to join the Pennine Way and follows a series of fields up to the Middleton-Brough Road. Across the road lies the track up to Wythes Hill Farm and then up to the ridge just below Harter Fell with its fine views over Selset Reservoir further up Lunesdale. A green trod then gives way to the vast enclosure of Crossthwaite Common where we paused to relax on the sun-drenched uplands and simply imbibe the landscape. Not for us the pace of a Thurlow/Armitage expedition where death may come as a blessed release. Instead, we admired one of the best views that Teesdale has to offer with the village nestled below against a backdrop of iconoclastic white farmhouses that decorate the daleside. We also had the chance to appreciate the ancient burial ground of Kirkcarrion which stands almost as a sentinel over Middleton village.

It was almost the perfect day. I say almost because of a training aircraft which circulated overhead like a vulture for much of the walk and detracted from the usual solitude and tranquility of the place. Does the club have sufficient funds to purchase a mobile surface-to-air missile system? The only other distraction was the fact that these hot summer days generate biting insects of every description which have the habit of lodging in places they shouldn’t. In my case it became a matter of walk one, scratch one. Still, a wonderful day out, great company as usual and a cool pint of “Battleaxe” delivered its recuperative powers especially when I spilt a drop on the itchy bits.


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