As usual with linear walks its a two car operation and so we tipped up at Dicko’s house, unusually we’d only had a couple of crumpets. As Kel is infatuated by never being a minute late for anyone (apart from me), we passed up our usual stop at the greasy spoon for a buttie and sat outside his house with grumbling tummys.
We were summonsed in while he got ready, his reasons were obvious for his invitation into his house which backs onto the fells. He takes great pleasure in telling me what birds he’s had in his back garden, “oh I had a Bullfinch and Goldfinch in the other day” he bragged on. “Even had a pheasant wander in last week”, he does this as he knows Kel and me have a problem with getting garden wildlife. A few choice words at his gloating and we left, jumped into the cars and headed for Barnard Castle to drop my car off. We parked up at the end of the walk as usual to drop my small Aygo off and load our kit into Dicko’s car. We had a good drive to get to the start at Gainford and this is usually where I jump in the back and have a cheeky snooze to charge the old batteries. Before I closed my eyes I had the ‘pleasure’ of seeing the man with the best job in the world, the PCSO for Barnard Castle. You should see this bloke, he gets paid for walking around the best town in Durham, he looks like he has slept with a coat hanger in his mouth, jammy beggar!!
Anyway, with the sound of Kel’s voice in Dicko’s ear I closed my eyes and drifted off. Kel takes the Micky that I can sleep at the drop of a hat, normally for ten minutes then wake feeling better. I think this is from my time in the army, sleep is precious and on exercise you slept when you could. I once fell asleep stood up against a tree!
I woke about 15 mins later and no one knew any different, Kel was still spotting Eddie Stobart wagons and Dicko was listening.
We pulled into Gainford and donned how kit. Kel was straight on the ‘Geocaching’ app on her phone to see if we had any on route back to ‘Barny’. I also had a cheeky look on my phone, plus switching on my ‘IMap my hike ‘ app. So with the Geocaching app and IMap my hike app I was the focus of every satellite hovering above.
We stormed through this lovely little village and for a short time joined the A67. It wasn’t long before we were stood stretching our heads looking at the surrounding fields for the old railway line that went under the road. Usually there’s some sort of ‘sign’ of an old line, but after looking and looking we decided this one had been ploughed into the English landscape decades ago. We dropped off the road on to the tees and the sound of the traffics vanished. For those who read my blog on a regular basis, you’ll know I’m a bit of a sado. Walking next to a river is bliss for me as there’s nations of wildlife to be seen, I had set my heart on seeing my first Dipper of the year. So my eyes were peeled for the little bird and anything else I could see. We came across a small fountain perched on the banks of the river which amused us for a while. A few piccys later and we made our way back up to the road as the route slips off for a few hundred metres. Then a left turn back towards the river on the old rail line we’d been looking for early. This was more like it, an old embankment with surrounding wildlife, just like the Hart to Haswell route back home. We join the river again and are surrounded by the Snowdrops and the stunning little green shoots of wild garlic.
It was not long before Kel alerted me to a nearby Geocache quite close to Winston Bridge. I had a look at my phone and saw the cache was on the other side of the river to the walk. Dicko proposed a brew stop so I ditched the day sack and ran over the bridge and about quarter of a mile down the opposite bank to the cache. I realised time was limited and Dicko and Kel would be waiting. Couldn’t find it, it was meant to be quite near the water line in some tree roots, either the GPS was playing up or it had joined the Tees in the last heavy rain fall. Hey ho I ran back up to the bridge and joined the rest who were happily taking piccys of the cracking view which enveloped us.
Then river was out of reach and we hugged the fence line of the fields that surround the water which was a good 70 to 100 feet below us. I could hear the numerous waterfalls that littered the Tees but struggled to see them. But the view was still awesome and the weather was still our friend. I was down to short sleeves by now as the sun was beating down on us. We passed a few wooden cabins tucked into the surrounding woodland which looked great, maybe retirement accommodation?! I had noticed something about this route, and others, the amount of Great Tits has surpassed the amount of Sparrows. Every tweet, apart from the odd Robin, was a Great Tit!
We skipped into Whorlton and negotiated the Way as it seems to go off in a tangent, like the Weardale Way which at points deviated from the map. We crossed the Whorlton suspension bridge, which was a bit of an experience. It’s obviously a swingy bridge , as the name suggests, but it wasn’t to Kel’s liking. The words “OMG the f**kers moving!” will have left a scar in this quiet Durham village for years to come.
Over the bridge and we have a good kilometre of English green fields before we rejoin the river. Time for a brew stop and time to have a look at our progress. My IMap my hike was playing a blinder, Dicko’s looked like a heart monitor reading on his Android app but mine even showed my pee breaks!
Our break gave me my first nettle sting of the year, one of many as spring joins us on our many walks.
I see that Geocache twinkle in Kel’s eye as we head in to Mortham park and towards the ‘Meeting of the water’ where we cross Dairy Bridge that has the most perfectly placed house on the banks. Kel rushes off to quickly find our first and only cache of the day. Dicko boils over excitement and we have to rest…….not!!
We set of through Rokeby Park and take in its views, which include a herd of Alpaca’s
A fairly picturesque walk to Abbey Bridge and a dog fest with an encounter with a Black Labrador called Harvey and we enter ‘Barny’ and enter ‘Barny’ feeling pretty fresh and fulfilled. We pile everything into the Aygo and scream off (ha ha) back to Gainford for a well-deserved pint. The Nelson is a good pint, no signal and a bit annoying when I wanted to see how far we’d walked. Dicko text later saying we’d done 10 mile.