2017-03-22 Middleton in Teesdale from B 6279 at Chapel House (Tom Waiton)
Total Distance:- 23.6 Km (14.7 ml)
Ave Speed:- 3.99 Km/hr (2.48 mph) [10.05 am – 16.01 pm]
Max height:- 249 m (817 ft)
Total ascent:- 448 m (1469 ft)
Tom led, 14 in group. Alighting from the buses, we landed in several inches of snow. Heading south, we plodged through the wettish snow having particular “fun” around gates where it was particularly wet. However, although very overcast, the snow made for some attractive scenery. After crossing the Percy Beck we joined a minor road which took us to the northern edge of Barnard Castle where we had a coffee stop next to the golf club. On our way again, we entered Flatts Wood passing under an excellent viaduct (Percy Beck Bridge) which once carried a now disused railway line. The walk SW through the woods was attractive although the snow was melting and the path was wet and muddy. We then joined the Teesdale Way heading NW through the trees above the R Tees. While it was not easy walking through the slippery mud, the views were very good. SE of East Holme House, we climbed from the low path near the river to the high path above the trees. This took us along grassy fields which by now had very little snow left and consequently were very wet. At NZ 025195 we passed a waterfall in full flow due to the snow melt before crossing a footbridge to continue our journey NW on the north side of the R Tees. When we were about level with Cotherstone on the SW bank of the river, the rain started. Light at first, by the time we reached the footbridge across the Tees it was heavy rain. After crossing the Tees, there was an immediate crossing of the R Balder. This led us up into Cotherstone, our lunch stop. Where to eat, the pub was closed, there was no obvious shelter, so we sat and ate our sarnies getting soaked. Tom had already suggested we might take the disused rail track after Cotherstone to give us a break from the muddy riverside paths. The rain cemented the idea in his mind so after lunch, it was SSW over another very wet field to reach the old railway line. We tramped along the line until just before Romaldkirk where it is necessary to join the road into the village and then out again to the railway line. “Only” 6 Km to Middleton but as Tom himself said, he remembers little of it as it was heads down as we struggled on through almost torrential rain. Our only thought was, “when will we get to the buses”. There were however two “amusing” incidents as we hurried on. Tom’s 15 month old boots seemed to disintegrate in the wet and every step produced bubbles from the left upper – Tom didn’t find it amusing. As we neared Middleton, Ray’s waterproofs started foaming (see pics on blog) – at least that is what it seemed to be, you may have another explanation! Reaching the buses on the south side of Middleton, all but two of the group decided to stay on the bus rather than change and then walk the half mile to the pub and get soaked again. It has to be said that this included the Thompson Twins. Has it ever been known for Bob to miss out on 90 minutes drinking time!!
Unfortunately, what looked like it would be a good walk in ok conditions was totally spoilt by the water underfoot and subsequently overhead.
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