Coast to Coast 2006

Pennine Way 2008

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Deborah and Gwen's Pennine Way Diary
Day 12

Day 12 - A low level riverside walk with impressive waterfalls
Friday 23rd May
Middleton-in-Teesdale to Forest-in-Teesdale          10.2 miles

We both slept well in the comfy beds at Belvedere House. We breakfasted around the large dining room table with a couple from Brisbane and three other guests who had also been in the Teesdale Hotel for dinner last night.

Jenny was a bit flustered over breakfast as she was anxious to leave to collect her son from the airport. We were away by 9 and bought our lunch provisions from the local Co-Op. The walk today promised to be gentle, through fields of wild flowers alongside the south bank of the river Tees. There were lots of walls to cross with a variety of stiles and gates to negotiate - at least they were devoid of the loose rocks we had encountered on many of the stiles in more remote places.

We crossed to the north bank of the river on the famous suspension bridge and sat on the rocks just downstream from Low Force to have our morning coffee. Making a slight detour up to the Bowlees visitor centre we passed a tethered white horse tucking into the long lush grass on the verge. The centre in the converted chapel had some interesting displays about the surrounding geology and local flora and fauna – Mum bought a book on British Native Trees and learned that the specimens we has so admired were in fact bird cherries.

Back on the trail, another mile brought us to High Force. We actually missed the best viewing spot even though the roar of the waterfall announced its presence long before we got there. We made our way down to the waters edge above the falls, took off our boots and enjoyed our picnic lunch of bread, humus and tomatoes. Whilst Mum rested I dipped my feet in the cool water- the river was far too deep and fast flowing to think about attempting a crossing so I settled for messing about on the rocks on our side. I did, however, dash back to the better viewing point to take some photos leaving Mum to wonder what she might do if I was not to return !**?

The final section of today’s walk went past the noisy and dusty quarry at Force Garth and then rose through gnarled juniper bushes to a vantage point from which we could see all the white washed buildings of Forest-in-Teesdale. As we descended towards the river I realised that I had no idea which of the dwellings was our destination for the night. I had left the directions Jean had sent to me in my suitcase. Our B&B, The Dale, was actually marked on the OS map but it was unclear as to which house the name belonged to. I tried to phone but there was no signal, we made an educated guess but unfortunately got it wrong, but by chance Jean’s cousin was driving the first car we flagged down and she pointed us in the right direction. Ten minutes later we were at the door of The Dale but no one was at home. Five minutes later Jean pulled up in her car, home from work at the High Force Hotel. Apparently she had explained that she wouldn’t be home until after 5pm but of course that piece of information was still inside my suitcase already sitting in Jean’s hallway. Apologies all round and we were soon drinking tea and eating homemade lemon cake in the TV lounge. Jean’s husband, Derek, arrived, home from work at the quarry. We admired the photos of him in full Scottish regalia and he explained his passion was for playing the drums in two local pipe bands. After hot showers Derek gave us a lift up to the Landon Beck Hotel where we enjoyed a good meal and a few drinks in the very welcoming atmosphere. It was beginning to turn really cold so we were grateful for the two log fires in the pub, I indulged in a malt whiskey and spoke to Tom on the phone – he seemed to be coping fine at home on his own - Mel and the girls were now in Costa Rica.

The barman made a quick phone call and within minutes Derek was at the door to give us a lift home – what service! Mum spent the rest of the time before bed sitting on the floor with her back on the radiator reading trashy magazines and trying to get warm before disappearing under the mountain of bedding

Thought for the day:
Deb Enjoyed all the wild flowers and waterfalls today

Mum   surprised to find out that the bird cherry is a native tree – it looked spectacular in full bloom along the banks of the river Tees



Fly fishing on the River Tees

Bird Cherry Trees

Beautiful bluebells

The river starts to get a bit more lively

The Wynch bridge

Morning coffee at Low Force

Horses near Bowlees visitor centre

Messing about on the trail - obviously too much time on our hands

High Force Waterfall

The quarry at Stone Garth

Some of the residents of Forest-in-Teesdale

The Dale B&B

The biggest and most comfortable beds on the Pennine Way

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