Allen is kept busy with the blog on the summits in the Lake District, and Tetley on the summits in the Yorkshire Dales & Howgill Fells. So we thought it was high time we helped out and so have taken responsibility to write the blog for the North Pennines. The challenge was commenced in 2010, and will be the main focus of our walks in the company of Uncle Bob.


23rd May 2010 - Islington Hill, Eggleston Common, Eggleston Moor (Carrs Top) & Sharnberry Gill

We were overjoyed when Dad told us that he had arranged to walk with Uncle Bob, and that we were going to the wild North Pennines to undertake another foray into an area we had never visited before. It was an unusually hot day for the time of year but there was a nice cooling breeze. At one point a shower passed over so Dad and Uncle Bob put their coats on. No sooner had they done this though, when the sun came out again. Our start point was the rough parking area beside the road from Eggleston to Stanhope at the entrance to Sharnberry Gill. The whole area that we were to walk are grouse moors and there was much evidence of this from the feeding trays to the stone tracks that lead to the shooting huts and the butts. We took the track climbing to the right soon leaving this to follow the butts, then over rough heathery terrain to reach the unmarked flat summit of Islington Hill. In fact the majority of the walk was to be on trackless moor, which was hard going at times through the rather tall heather and rough grass. We do not think that this area is much frequented, and in fact we saw no other people all day except for some cyclists distantly in Hamsterley Forest. Headed south from Islington Hill to reach another "road" but struck left to the spot height of 488m as per the OS map. This is the highest point (by the OS map, although we have seen on another map this is shown as 485m). This point is on Eggleston Common, but the actual top (485m) is on the ridge to the south beyond the shooting hut. It is rather more outstanding but is again a flat top. We had to again sit on ground for our picture but Dad put the flag out, to add colour. Walked on down to the fence, which Dad climbed before we realised that all we had to do was walk along to the corner, so he had to climb back there. From here we continued down to cross the bridleway (another grouse shoot track) and then over very rough terrain - tough walking, to gain the trig point at Grey Carrs, that marks the summit of Eggleston Moor. Finally a definite top! Stopped here for lunch. Then Uncle Bob and Dad had some fun taking pictures of each other holding the flag by the trig point - what are they like!! We were reluctant to leave but there was still some way to go, so we jumped back into the rucksack and and set off again. Headed down, north, over similar ground find the bridleway. However we got a little too far far east, and followed the track erroneously to the shooting hut. So it was more rough walking for a little way to finally pick up the correct path, and then at the fork we went left and so to the edge of Hamsterley Forest. We did not enter, but instead walked the 2 miles or so north along side it to come finally to Sharnberry Gill. There was not a real path but the terrain was rather easier going on this section. A rather steep and precarious descent brought us to the wide stoney track in the gill. Good walking on the final section through this charming valley. Now quiet, it would once have been a hive of industry for mining long ago. The track is another now used in connection with grouse shooting. It was a good walk and work out over the 11m. Goodbyes were said, then it was an easy journey home. Dad stopped at the Coast to Coast chip shop in Kirkby Stephen for a take away tea.


4th April 2010 - Monks Moor & Hudes Hope Valley from Middleton in Teesdale

Walking with Uncle Bob, starting from Middleton in Teesdale. A dry day, but the wind was cold and on the tops it felt more like February than April. Our route was east along the main street, then taking the signed path on the left climbed a bank up to a stile. Beyond we crossed a pasture then walked right though some farm buildings and on the track that led to the buildings of Stanhope Gate. Along the road then left up the track to Spring Hill and over more muddy pastures to a minor road. A few yards right, then took the track opposite over more muddy fields, to leave the main footpath and follow a route over open fell. The ground was now rough with tussocky grass heather and bog - just the kind of terrain Dad and Uncle Bob are used too. This finally led to the trig point at 521m. Not the summit, but nevertheless we sat on top for our picture. The views were opening out and we could see distantly Grassholme Reservoir that we had walked from last time. Now continued roughly north to gain the summit of Monks Moor, marked by a huge cairn. There are huge boulders too and it looked like a giant had been throwing them about. Very lonely and desolate-likely to be our only visit. Setting off again, walked west and descended to cross a fence and down to a narrow road at Hudes Hope. Here it was right around the sharp bend and down to a signed path near Hudes Hope Beck. Reaching a wall we could not see a stile but crossing it was a right of way so we climbed over heading on south, soon joining a good grassy track. All around were spoil heaps and the remains of lead mines from long ago. We also saw the entrance to one level. The low wall remains of buildings provided a spot to sit for lunch. We were ready too, as by now it was 14.00 and we had not eaten since early morning. Then continued to pass a long abandoned quarry that we deviated to walk through. Finally the path descended to a forest road where we took a sign path left up through the woods on the edge of Snaisgill Plantation to the narrow road at Snaisgill. Rounding a bend it was left on a footpath that climbed up crossing a number of large stone step stiles - these did nothing to ease the pain in Dad's knees. We felt very sorry for him. This led to the narrow road we had crossed this morning, where we descended to Stanhope Gate taking the path through a gated tunnel to rejoin our outward route and so to Middleton. An enjoyable walk, on completely new ground for us all. While we sat in the car for our picnic Dad and Uncle Bob went to the nearby Conduit Cafe, where we had tea and delicious scones with butter and jam


7th February 2010 - Pennine Way, Low Birk Hatt, Blackton, Shacklesborough & Balderhead from Grassholme Reservoir

Our first walk with Uncle Bob since November, and our first foray together into the North Pennines. The start was the parking area at Grassholme Reservoir. Considering the distances Dad and Uncle Bob had to travel, to arrive within seconds of one another was quite a coincidence. It was misty and damp as we got ready and raining, but this soon stopped and apart from another shower it was a dry day if very misty at times. Underfoot it was wet traversing lots of bog, but Uncle Bob and Dad are used to that!! Crossing the bridge we climbed the stile walking the Pennine Way. Crossed the road at How, then over fields to Kelton Bottom. Cutting the corner of a field via two stiles it was on by a wall over more damp pasture to the road to Balderhead Reservoir. Then along the tarmac lane opposite to Low Birk Hatt, where Hannah Hauxwell lived. The road leads down by her meadow where she grazed her cattle - now a protected site. When Hannah lived there there was no running water or power. This was laid on after she became famous via Yorkshire TV. The house, since she left, has undergone a make over with loft conversions, double glazing conservatory etc. It is right on the shores of Blackton Reservoir. Passing Blackton Grange Youth Hostel, we took the track left, climbing to cross the modest rise of Turf Hill. Then using the compass we struck out on a bearing nearly due west and eventually our objective the rounded hump of Shacklesborough came into view. Following a tractor track towards it and finally climbing to the summit with its trig point and tall tower of a cairn - someone had spent much time constructing it. This was our first Pennine summit and we leapt out as usual for our picture and to have lunch. It was cold up here and very poor visibility in the mist. Uncle Bob now took a bearing and pointed out where we should aim for - a gap in the snow on the distant hill. So off we went down the slope. Immediately the mist thickened and our reference point disappeared. So it was walk a bit, then take more bearings, to finally arrive at and cross Beagill Hearne. Then taking a bearing again we headed for the River Balder and its bridge. Hard going on this section of trackless bog. From the bridge the huge Balderhead Reservoir stretched away into the mist. Climbing the track on the other side and rounding the large Mea Sike gully, we finally arrived at the parking area, and so along the road to East Carngill. Here we took the path left, following a cart track, but eventually striking half left to the boundary wall at Black Hill. Climbed the stile then down the boggy pasture to the bottom right corner going ahead through the gate and so to Lane Head Farm, and along its access track to the road. Then took the path over Selset Weir. An amazing construction to control the flow of water in to Greenholme Reservoir. Climbed stiles and crossed one the muddiest fields ever to the road at Low Selset, going right to the cars. A cracking walk and great to have Uncle Bob's company. Then we headed home over the road to Brough - very bleak and forbidding in the darkening skies. Still lots of snow piled at the sides of the road - not a place to breakdown commented Dad.