And a holiday on our own, without the mobile switched on day and night – bliss!
We have never been to Teesdale, but the odd post on Mike Knipe’s blog made us think that here we might find a bit of peace and quiet, and some pleasant, interesting walking too. And so we did.
|Teesdale residents outside our cottage|
We stayed at the truly excellent holiday cottage on Toby Hill Farm, between Egglestone and Middleton-in-Teesdale, which we can thoroughly recommend. With lambing and calving still in full swing, the farm was a busy place when we arrived, and before long Miss W was meeting some of the newer residents.
|Tom, the trainee sheepdog|
|So cute, so tasty ...|
With the Teesdale Way running right past the farm drive, the first day saw us take a leisurely stroll into Middleton along the riverside, and after lunch, a wander along various footpaths and bits of old railway to make a pleasant nine mile loop in the spring sunshine. In fact we were able to get a decent walk in almost every day. Whether up amongst the old lead mines that pepper the hillsides, down in the lush river valley or on the high fells, the walking in Teesdale is pleasant, sometimes exhilarating, but never too demanding. Which was just what we wanted.
|View from Winch Bridge|
Walks took in the usual sights of Low Force, High Force and Cauldron Snout, with fine high level treks across Cronkley Fell and over to High Cup Nick. We became quite absorbed with the remains of the lead mining and smelting industry too, with its hushes, adits, grading floors and buddles and so-on (a tip for you here – when you see a shop marked on the map, don’t rely on getting an ice cream there). One great legacy of this industry is the trails and tracks that follow the old pony routes from the mines to the smelters. Today they make up a network of miles of green paths through stunning countryside. The industrial heritage of old lime kilns, buildings and greened over haul roads just adds to the interest. When we gaze appalled at wind farms and hydro schemes and so-on, I sometimes wonder if, in a century or two, our descendants will walk the same empty land and marvel that it was once a major source of power. Will the Beamish museum of the 23rd century feature a few wind turbines alongside the relics of the age of steam?
But for now, industry has abandoned Teesdale and wildlife is everywhere. We saw deer near the farm (local venison in the butchers at Middleton) curlew, lapwings, plovers, oyster catchers, wild geese, grouse of course and as for frogs, there were hundreds of them up on the fells. Even the most unlikely and filthy pool on an old mining site was teeming with frogs and frog spawn, whereas our pristine wildlife pond at home has not one amphibian resident - although I strongly suspect that a visitor from the local heronry might have something to do with that!
|Frog near Maize Beck|
|High Cup Nick|
|Afternoon light - heading home|
Back home now and feeling great. Amazing what a breath of fresh air can do!