Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A-Walking: Gleefully Greta

Following last Sunday's adventures on the North York Moors, this week's expeditions took place in County Durham. Our trek today took us from the village of Bowes in an easterly direction to Greta Bridge via Howlugill, Spanham, How Tallon, and Barningham.

Within walking circles, the small village of Bowes is well-known for a number of reasons - including its castle (now in ruins) its church and its pub. It is strategically positioned to the south-west of Barnard Castle and offers a useful starting point for exploring the terrain that lies between the A66 road and Swaledale.

We set off from our drop-off point in Bowes {NY 996 135} at about 11.00 am. There were 9 people in the group: PB, KF, CH, JH, MH, LM, WM, JY and PY. PB led the walk.

From Bowes, we headed south along a minor road that took us to Gilmonby Bridge {NY 996 132} (see picture below) where we crossed the River Greta.

Gilmonby Bridge
About 90 yards after the bridge we turned left onto a public footpath that took us in a south-easterly direction towards Howlugill. At {NZ 002 127} we turned right and made for a minor road at {NZ 001 124}. Turning left, we followed this for about 400 yards in order to reach a south-going footpath at Quarry Hill {NZ 004 121}. This took us to Farewell and The Combs.

Continuing on our south-easterly bearing, we crossed Eller Beck using a ford at {NZ 006 110} (see here) and then made our way to Spanham {NZ 015 101} (see here). As we travelled south, there were some good views of Scargill Low Moor (to our left) and Scargill High Moor (to our right). Ahead of us, as we got closer to it, Spanham Scar1 was a very impressive sight (see here).

From Spanham Farm, we headed west to Spanham East Hill as we trekked to {NZ 010 098}. We now turned onto a southerly bearing and made our way pass Scargill Mine (see here and here) towards the western edge of the forest (The Stang) at {NZ 010 089}. Once we were in the forest, we looked for an appropriate spot at which to take a short lunch break.

After a pleasant lunch in the sun, sheltered from the wind by the surrounding trees, we continued our south-easterly trek until we reached a minor road at {NZ 022 074} (see here). As we walked through this area, the extensive deforestation that has been taking place was very apparent (see the picture below). More details on this are available here.

Just after crossing the road we reached the highest point on the walk {1600 feet) at {NZ 023 075}. We now continued our easterly trek across the southern edge of The Stang passing Hope Scar as we went {NZ 033 076}. Since the trees on both sides of our track had been cut down, and we were quite high up, we had some tremendous views of Barnard Castle (to the north) during this section of the walk.

We re-entered a wooded area at {NZ 037 077} and subsequently emerged from the forest at {NZ 042 080}2. From here we made our way to Black Hill Gate {NZ 044 083 } where we were able to enter the access land that lay to the south of us. We now made our way uphill to Hush Head and, continuing on our southerly bearing, arrived at Cocker Hill3 {NZ 044 069} where we had a short tea stop. At 1546 feet, this was the second-highest point on our route. After our tea break we followed the boundary fence (on our right) as we trekked to the trig point on How Tallon {NZ 057 074} (1453 feet). We now changed to a north-easterly bearing and made our way (via Badger Way Stoop {NZ 064 077}) to the village of Barningham {NZ 084 103} - continually losing height as we progressed.

As we approached the village, we half-circled around Barningham Park in an anti-clockwise direction to join the road at {NZ 085 103}. After making our way to the church {NZ 085 104}, we left the village in a westerly direction along Low Lane. At {NZ 082 106} we turned right and made a northerly trek over the fields in order to reach Wilson House {NZ 083 118} where we joined a minor road. We followed this in a northerly direction until we reached {NZ 084 125}. At this point we took a footpath through Mill Wood and across the fields to reach Greta Bridge {NZ 086 132}.

Greta Bridge
During today's expedition we experienced some really tremendous sights: good views from the high ground, the autumnal colours of the trees and the varied moorland hues. Overall, another excellent day!

Use the buttons below to see where we went, how we did and some of the sights we saw.



1 On my 2002 imprint of the OL 30 map, and on my digital version of it (as provided by Memory-Map), 'Spanham Scar' is actually referred to as 'Spanhan Spar' - see the following map section:

Crown Copyright (2009). All rights reserved. Licence No. 100046831.
Produced using Memory-Map (Version 5).

Fortunately, as can be seen below, in the 2009 imprint of the printed version of OL 30, and within the version that exists on the Ordnance Survey's online Get-a-Map facility, this error has now been corrected.

Crown Copyright (2009). All rights reserved. Licence No. 100046831.
Produced using Ordnance Survey's Get-a-Map facility.

2 At this point I had intended to turn right and make a southerly trek along the edge of the forest (on our right) in order to reach Cocker Hill. However, it was necessary to make a minor Amendment to Route at this point. Click here to see the details of this.

3 Some maps suggest that there is a mast of some type on Cocker Hill. For example, as can be seen in the map section below, the Ordnance Survey's (2009) Get-a-Map facility shows a mast icon on the top of the hill. In fact, there has not been any mast there for many years!

Crown Copyright (2009). All rights reserved. Licence No. 100046831.
Produced usingOrdnance Survey's Get-a-Map facility (October, 2009).



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