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Thursday, 28 April 2016

 A walk from Barnard Castle   April 28th (North Pennines)
This walk was "A good walk" described in the Times Weekend section for April 23rd. The writer is better than me in that he gives a greater description of the scenery, flowers and fauna. White shirt fronted dippers, astonishing displays of red, white and blue flowers flooding the shadows under the trees, Curtseying wagtails and skimming swallows. he didn't go today, it is cold and overcast with the threat of snow showers later in the afternoon. Regardless I am inspired to greater things, having just read Martin Eden by Jack London.
An extra walk for Dave and I, not the official Friday gadgie expedition.
We drove to Barnard Castle from base, A1, A167 to Tudhoe, Spennymore and then the A688 to Barnard Castle. Alternatively; A69 west A68 south just before Corbridge, A688 to Barnard Castle at West Auckland.  A lovely Durham town, once visited by Charles Dickens.  The wide main street has old fashioned looking shops and pubs and a pretty little Market Cross dated 1747. The castle, by the river Tees, is well worth a visit too.
                                  A snip at £1.50
                                The Market Cross, turn right up the main street
It is possible to do this walk without a map as it is so well marked but the route is covered on OS OL 31 North Pennines.
We parked in the long term car park in Barnard Castle. (Down the main street, turn left at the Market Cross and turn left again.) A bargain at  £1.50 for  a full day! And it's not even in Yorkshire.
The walk: we walked back to the high street, turned right and walked  up the left hand side of the wide street until we spotted a sign post taking us near to the castle entrance and towards a footpath that led down to the river bank.
 Watch out for the information board near the start of the walk
                                                Follow the Dipper
                                               Barnard Castle plus weir with salmon ladder                                                                                    For the first two miles or so the path sticks to the river. Narrow in places with a steep drop to the water it goes through old deciduous woodland. The last few days  have been bitterly cold with a wind coming down from the Arctic, we have had thunder, hail, snow and rain but today, at the moment it is calm and dry, not quite spring like but getting there. The floor of the woods has a carpet of spring flowers, slowly emerging, or in the case of the daffodils, slowly fading. Not being up in the flower world I have relied on Dave to point out the anemones,  wood sorrel and dogs mercury, although the bluebells and primroses are easy to spot, so are the celandines.
We stopped to talk to a couple walking in the opposite direction to us. They told us it was possible to catch a bus from Barnard to Middleton in Teesdale and then walk back to the town on the riverside walk. This has been noted for the future.
                                River Tees
  At one point the path turns to the right and climbs steeply into the fields above the river, passing East Holme House, West Holme House and a small waterfall. Lots of lambs, some extremely friendly.
                 For some reason this lamb loved my trousers. 
Just beyond Cotherstone Crag there is a footbridge across the river into God's little acre, aka Yorkshire. Another footbridge crosses a tributary. We called a Herbie Spot on a grassy stretch by the river, a bench faced the water and we watched a mother mallard shepherding her five ducklings on the water and a good number of swallows skimming the surface for food. Then it rained, but only a shower and we continued on our way. On the left a stepped steep path took us above the river.  The walk on this side of the river is a delight. The views of the craggy high northern bank are quite impressive, the short stretches through woodland are full of flowers, and wild garlic which will blossom shortly and fill the air. At one point we passed beneath a building that seemed to have been built in ranch style.  Several people were sitting in a large conservatory that looked like a dining room. Maybe it was some sort of centre. Below it, near the river, a rectangular patch of water and scrub claimed to be a nature conservancy area. On a small island a splendid looking Osprey  scared the two mallards off.

                                               The Ponderosa

                        Carving on the nature conservancy area
We caught up with a couple of ladies out doing the walk. They too had read it up in The Times and decided to follow it. I gave them one of my cards so they could look up a few new walks. Sadly it started to rain so we hurried on.
Soon we arrived at a footbridge across the Tees which we crossed and walked past the crazy golf course into town.
                                 There once was a railway here, all that remains of the viaduct that crossed the river is this magnificent piece of ashlar masonry on the west side and its counterpart on the east.
              Nicest crazy golf course I have seen 

On the wall of a house in the main street. There are a number of plaques around giving information on past worthies or changes to the town. A good idea.
Back at the car park we changed and, believe it or not, headed straight back home in the snow storm. By the time we reached Newcastle it was rain.
The Matrix MMXVI N
                                                                    steps                         miles
LIDL 3D                                                   20215                        9.2
NAK                                                         24894                        9.42
etrex                                                                                           9.34
OUTDOOR                                                                               8.9
Dave's 3D                                                20815                         9.57
"          USB                                             19838                         9.39
  "        NAk                                              19446                        9.2

At least the distances are consistent!
For birders we saw:
Great spotted woodpecker, chiffchaff, willow warbler, pied wagtail, swallow, martin, dipper, song thrush, robin, wren, and heard a nuthatch.
This is a really beautiful walk, not too difficult with much to see and enjoy, particularly in spring. Well done The Times!
                       Contains OS data Copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2016.