24 September: A flying visit to County Durham

Author: Mrs A

Location: Barnard Castle, County Durham, UK

The luxury of time and having our own means of transport and accomodation has allowed us to visit friends we would otherwise not be able to catch up with. I was excited to be able to see my lovely friend Claire. We haven’t caught up for two years, and I have never been to County Durham where she grew up and now lives with her son Adam.

Once again we were grateful Truffy is a shorter motorhome, as we were able to park right outside Claire’s semi-detatched home in West Auckland. We had a lovely evening of catching up over dinner and met Adam for the first time (now 11 years old!) without the worry about driving or finding a taxi home.

Gorgeous, smart and funny like his mum

The following morning we joined Claire in dropping Adam off at school, and she then drove us to Bowlees in the North Pennines where we did a walk. Being so early in the day it was lovely and quiet, and the rain mostly held off, leaving an atmospheric mist hanging over the countryside.

Loving being out in the countryside, a short drive from Claire’s home

Our first point of interest was Sumerhill Force and Gibson’s Cave on Bow Lee Beck, a tributary of the River Tees.

Bow Lee Beck, looking a little brown after the night’s rain
C & C
Summerhill Force – behind which is Gibson’s Cave – legend has it a Mr Gibson escaped the law and hid here supported by locals in the 1500s…
Bow Lee Beck, looking up towards the falls

We next did a circuit walk across the fields, through the misty scenery feeling very Wuthering Heights!

Which century is this image from?
Mark and Claire walk up a hill…Claire proving she is more warm blooded than us!
Continuing on our exploration
Footpaths and styles peel off in all directions, heading to unknown destinations
We make our way down to Low Force, the lower of two major waterfalls and sets of rapids in this area on the River Tees
Gorgeous old mossy trees,

Low Force Falls were roaring over the rock, giving us a fraction of the view we would have seen had we seen High Force Falls too. We were running out of time and High Force Falls required a ticket to view. We decided to save those for our next visit – and there will be a next visit.

Thundering water
The River Tees rushing through Teesdale
So pleased the rain held off (mostly!)
Off through this tiny gap in the wall and across the field back to the visitor centre

It was so lovely to see Claire like this. A chance to just walk and talk and reconnect outside of the usual crowd of friends. As lovely as that is, this has been far more intimate and precious. In addition, Claire has introduced us to some beautiful scenery, her local town, Barnard Castle with lots of walks, interesting shops and pubs, and of course a castle (ruins!). It’s such an interesting area, with the added bonus of a good friend. We look forward to returning in the future and exploring further.

We finished off our walk with tea and cake in the visitors centre as the threatening skies decided to fully open. We’ve rarely seen rain like it – the roads turned into treacherous rivers and the windscreen wipers on double speed, often unable to cope.

After saying goodbye to Claire, we jumped into Truffy and pointed him north through the rain, aiming for Edinburgh, Scotland.