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This was a 'Ramsoc' weekend with Sue's University contemporaries. Eighteen of us assembled at Langdon Beck youth hostel on Friday evening. Saturday morning brought a lie-in and a very leisurely start due to driving rain.
Departure was eventually fixed for around 11 o'clock, at which point, having seen us all dressed for the weather, the rain ceased to fall.
Most of those present went on a nine mile circular walk to Cow Green and Cauldron Snout, returning beside the River Tees, with just Neal opting for a visit to the museum at Bowes. Pete and Mary were on their eTandem, and I was on my old Shogun Trailbreaker mountain bike. (Still unable to walk far due to Plantar Fasciitis.)
The walkers set off first and 'sold a dummy' to an anxious lady the other side of a ford at Langdon Beck hamlet. No, it wouldn't be wise to cross here!
The walkers were soon passed by the eTandem, heading up the steady gradient to Cow Green.
Well, I wasn't there yet, but it would appear that the tandem paused for a group photo.
Meanwhile, having set off and then returned to base to collect waterproofs (which were not needed), I pedaled along the road to Langdon Beck hamlet, and watched the waters of Harwood Beck flowing under the bridge that serves as a sensible alternative to the aforementioned ford.
The walkers soon appeared as dots in the distance as I headed on up the slope towards Cow Green.
I carried on to the car park, near where I got a view of the rather depleted reservoir.
Meanwhile, on a different road barred to traffic that leads to the dam, the others were making steady progress on their stroll.
The road to the dam stretched ahead. I was pleased to be on my bike rather than be walking along the tarmac.
The overnight rain was trying hard to replenish the reservoir.
A view from the dam shows the gush of water being released despite the need to retain as much as possible.
Here's a view back along the dam. I remember this being constructed. Perhaps I'll add some of the scanned images to this posting if and when I get to them.
The grassy slope to the left of the next picture provided an interesting (very slithery) descent.
I soon joined Pete and Mary, shivering under their tarp but looking happy enough.
The other foot soldiers soon arrived, and we moved down to a good picnic spot in view of the Cauldron Snout waterfall. The next few images of views at Cauldron Snout were taken by various people and may not be in order. It's a magical place.
There was a brief shower of rain, during which I sheltered in an old barn, having headed off towards Birkdale.
Here's my view towards Birkdale. I soon realised that in order to follow my desired route along a bridleway to Holwick, I'd have to cross Maize Beck. That clearly wasn't possible, so I turned round and headed back to Cow Green.
Meanwhile, the eTandem was returning to base, and the walkers were making their way slowly down below Falcon Clints.
Can you see them in my picture, littered at the foot of the descent.
It's rough going down there, and though I wasn't there I wasn't surprised to hear of some 'stumbles', thankfully not requiring 'rescue'.
Someone found a couple of fungi - perhaps of the 'puff-ball' genre. Did I detect them later in Tom's ratatouille?
My picture (above) looking down to the river was taken from the barn on the hill, where I sheltered from the brief shower.
I then went back to the Cow Green car park and took a track north west above Backside Fell, with Cross Fell and its companions in the distant view ahead.
I passed the site of an old mine, in lovely weather with clearing skies.
The easy track rose gently from the height of the reservoir at about 500 metres, to join the B6277 road at Harwood Common, at around 600 metres.
I met a couple of mountain bikers near the high point, and it was probably they who flew past me on the descent to Langdon Beck a little later, and I was doing nearly 35 mph at the time. They must have taken my route from the car park in reverse.
A lovely green lane led to Harwood, and another crossing of the beck there.
After admiring the afternoon sunlight on the white walls of the houses, I rejoined the Cow Green road for that final speedy descent and a short ride back to the hostel along the main road.
I got back at around 3:30 pm after a 4 hour outing, a few minutes ahead of the walkers, who told me they had walked a 9 mile circuit.
By the end of the day my tyres had wheeled their way over 37 km (23 miles), with about 500 metres ascent. Here's my Garmin 'track'. Click on it for a better image.
On Sunday morning we were greeted by even heavier rain than on Saturday. We'd enjoyed a lie in thanks to the clocks going back, and we took our time leaving, as nobody would be occupying the hostel after us for a while.
Most people went home, but seven of us decided on a short walk from Bowlees, past Low Force to High Force and back.
There was a fair amount of water coming over Low Force, though I'd hesitate to describe it as being 'in spate'.
We crossed the Tees by way of this 'one at a time' suspension bridge, high above the river, just below Low Force.
The local fire brigade were out, practicing their river rescue techniques. (Elsewhere in the country, other teams were engaged in the real thing, with some paddle boarders losing their lives.)
There were also some kayakers enjoying the fast flowing river, but they always appeared at the wrong moment for my camera.
Here we are near Low Force, at about the time it stopped raining - Martin, Sue, Dave, Sal, Sue, Phil and David.
For some reason the authorities have deemed it appropriate for walkers between Low Force and High Force to be greeted by a couple of stone sheep.
Here's the river a bit further upstream, where we later saw the kayakers.
When I lived on Teesside, and the Pennine Way was in its infancy, this once lovely path was transformed by Pennine Way walkers into a boggy morrass. The duck boards that were put in place and which soon became submergered in the mud have long since been replaced by a more durable surface, though a far cry from the grassy path of the 1960's.
On reaching High Force, a sequence of pictures was taken. When the river is truly in spate, it flows over the entire rocky prominence shown below.
Looking upstream above the waterfall, you can see that when the river is lower it's quite easy to boulder hop to the other side of the river, from where you can descend to the foot of the waterfall and admire it from below. We couldn't do that today and had to be satisfied with our views from the high path on the south bank.
Just off our path, Holwick Head House, accessed via the Holwick road, looked a fairly desolate spot today.
Back near Low Force, we spotted some very healthy specimens of Fly Agaric fungus (Amanita muscaria). Not so healthy for anyone foolish enough to taste it!
Our short outing concluded after a couple of hours, having seen us stroll about 7 km with 80 metres or so ascent.
Some went to Bowlees Visitor Centre for refreshments. Sue and I went home, stopping for a picnic lunch in a sunny spot on the high road to Brough, before enduring more heavy rain on the M6 nearly all the way home.
An excellent weekend, and thanks go to Alison, Sue W, Sue B and Tom, whose photos have enhanced this posting.