North Pennines Walk - Bowlees and Teesdale
PUBLISHED: 17:21 11 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:51 20 February 2013
Try this glorious walk through the ever-changing landscapes of Teesdale. Words and pictures by David Taylor
This months walk celebrates the varied landscapes of Teesdale, from rich agricultural land, through important wildflower meadows and ending in a picturesque river walk, complete with waterfalls.
Begin at the Bowlees Visitor Centre and cross the footbridge over the river. Go through the gate and turn right, through the woods. As the path approaches a gate, turn right to cross the footbridge over the stream.
At the top of the incline, where the trees on your left clear, take the stile at the yellow marker then turn right. Climb the stile straight ahead of you, turn left and follow the wall. Cross the stream and follow the path on your right along the stream.
When you reach the wall at the end of this field, climb the stile to the left of the wall which leads straight ahead. Cross this field in the direction of the second telegraph pole to the left of the wall, crossing into another field as you do so, then go beyond the telegraph pole to the wall at the end of the field.
Go through the gate, follow the wall, cross the stream and go over the stile on your left. Cross the field, go through the next gate, and follow the track to the farm. Green markers guide you through the gate into the farmyard, then through the gate to your right. Go straight ahead, and cross the stile in the wall, then bear left across the field, in the direction of the woodland. Follow the grass track down to the stream, across the footbridge, and up to the farmhouse.
At the top of this track, go through the gate with the green marker. At the tarmac road, turn left, then turn right at the fingerpost. Go through the farmyard and across the field, in the direction of the conifer woodland. Now go through the two gates on your left, and then through the third gate diagonally ahead on the right. Cross the stile on the left.
Head diagonally to the top right of this field and through the gate, then take the stile on the left. Walk between the two tall upright stones, bear right, cross the stile and go diagonally to the right to the next stile. Continue towards the white house, then through the break in the wall and turn right onto the road.
Walk briefly along the road, then go through the gate on your left and bear right along the track, past the quarry. At the end of this track, go through the gate on the right and continue along the track.
Now go down the hill, cross the stile on your right, and follow the wall along the field. Bear right at the house, go through the gate on the left, follow the gravel track down to the river and cross the bridge.
Here the Pennine Way crosses the River Tees. This spot also marks one of the boundaries of the Moor House-Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve. The reserve occupies an area of 88 square kilometres, making it one of the largest in England. The reserve is important for its unique Arctic-Alpine plants, which have survived here since the last Ice Age, and which are managed through traditional farming methods and moorland management.
Follow the track, turn right at the footpath marker just before the entrance to the farm, and follow the path down the hill, turning left at the bottom. Follow the path uphill, through the pinch gate on the right, then turn left and continue uphill.
Go through the gate ahead of you, then across the stile on the left. Follow the path past the two stones marking the Pennine Way, between the fenced-in bushes, and down towards the river. Teesdales population of juniper bushes is the second largest in the UK and is protected as part of a Special Area of Conservation.
The bushes survival is threatened by Phytophthora austrocedrae, a fungus-like organism. Biosecurity measures are in place along the path to help prevent the spread of the disease, and there are two stations where you are asked to disinfect your boots.
Cross the stream and turn left, then simply follow the path beside the river. On the opposite bank, you will see a stone quarry, while on the right you come to Bleabeck Force, the first of a number of waterfalls on our journey.
Further along the path you will come to the most spectacular of the waterfalls on our route High Force. Here, the River Tees tumbles an impressive 21.5 metres over the Whin Sill. This formation of igneous rock runs from Teesdale in the south as far north as Berwick, and it is on high outcrops of the Whin Sill that stretches of Hadrians Wall, as well as the castles at Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh and Lindisfarne, were strategically built.
Follow the picturesque path along the river. You will eventually come to Low Force, a less spectacular falls than its big brother, but very beautiful. Not far from here is the Grade Two listed Wynch Bridge, a graceful suspension footbridge. The original bridge was used by the lead miners of Holwick to access the mines at Little Eggleshope.
Cross the bridge it is advised that only one person crosses at a time and follow the path to the right and through the pinch gate. Follow the path to the road, cross over, then take the track to the right of the telephone box and follow it past the houses and round beyond the chapel. On the left is the entrance to the Bowless Visitor Centre car park, and the end of our walk.
Start: Bowlees Visitor Centre
Grid reference: NY 906 281
Ordnance Survey Map: OL 31 & OL 19
Length: 8.9 miles (14 kilometres)
Difficulty: Steep inclines and rough paths
Time: Six hours
Nearest pub: The Forresters Hotel, Middleton-in-Teesdale
Nearest town: Middleton-in-Teesdale
For more information about the North Pennines visit www.northpennines.org.uk