Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A-Walking: The Alston Anaconda

Alston is another lovely area from which to go walking. Today, 12th June 2009, it was the destination of our expedition which started in the Weardale village of Cowshill {NY 856 406}. Our 'snake-like' route took us to Killhope Law, Nenthead and along the Pennine Way (PW).

We set off from the Cowshill Hotel (see the picture below) at about 11.15 am. There were eight of us in the group: PB, RB, KF, MG, CH, WM, JY and PY. WM led the walk.

Photo of Cowshill Hotel
From the hotel we had a good climb in a northerly direction up onto Poppet Hill. As we climbed, the weather rapidly deteriorated. This necessitated the use of water-proof gear. We continued on our northerly trek across Burtree Fell - climbing to reach a gated wall at {NY 858 431}. We now turned onto a westerly bearing and descended down to the B6295 road at {NY 853 432}. We now followed a permissive route along the Durham/Northumberland county border. This took us along Stangend Rigg in the direction of Killhope Law.

Because of the inclement conditions, we took refuge at a shooting cabin {NY 825 448} while we had our lunch stop. We then continued our climb up onto Killhope Law. On the top, the views were really terrific. However, the conditions under-foot were pretty wet - as were the peat hags that we subsequently had to negotiate as we crossed Killhope Moor en route for the minor road at {NY 794 444}.

Conditions under-foot improved as we descended along a good track towards the village of Nenthead {NY 781 437}. However, having said that, we did experience a lane that was overgrown with long grass and nettles just before entering the village. After passing through Nenthead, we now faced our second major climb of the day: from the village up to (and through) a wood at {NY 772 436}. Once we had found our way out of the woods, we continued on a south-westerly bearing across the south-eastern edge of Alston Moor.

We stopped for a short tea break at {NY 756 426} - near Bentyfield Mine - now disused. From here we followed the course of Garrigill Burn in a roughly SW bearing to reach the B6277 road at {NY 750 425}. As we followed the beck, there was much evidence to be seen of the bygone mining days.

From the B6277 road we followed a permissive route downhill in order to reach a bridge over the River South Tyne at {NY 740 418} - just north-west of the small village of Garrigill. Having crossed the river we now joined the Pennine Way and followed this in a NW direction along the southern bank of the river. By now, the weather conditions had improved remarkably - as is evidenced in the picture below.

Photo of WM leading the A-team
We progressed along the river's edge until we reached a foot-bridge at {NY 724 429} where we crossed over to the other side. Staying with the PW, we maintained our NW bearing in order to take in Bleagate at {NY 717 437}. Here we turned onto a northerly bearing and continued to follow the PW (and River South Tyne) until we reached Alston {NY 717 462} where our coach was waiting. Because of the conditions we experienced earlier during the day, we got back about twenty minutes late!

Bearing in mind both the weather conditions (rain and a very strong, often head-on, wind) and the terrain under-foot (peat hags, copious amounts of water and nettles), we had quite a hard walk today. Nevertheless, it was a tremendous 'adventure' which we all enjoyed. Many thanks to WM for facilitating such a super event.

Click the buttons below to see where we went, how we did and some photos that capture a few of the scenic treats that we had.




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