Saturday 22 August Langdon Beck to Dutton

Miles walked: today 13.5 cumulative 777.1

Miles walked towards John O’Groats today 0. I’VE BEEN GOING THE WRONG WAY! Today the Pennine Way headed South-West (WSW for the pedants). And for good reason. It visits High Cup Nick which is one of the finest natural features of the UK.

I headed off across farmland to reach the Tees. At the river, I turned upstream and had a good view of an outcrop of the Whin Sill

The Whin Sill is an intrusion of volcanic dolerite from the magma that erupted between the adjacent limestone and mudstone. It extends across north-east England. It is much more resistant to erosion than the surrounding rocks giving rise to several interesting features. Low and High Force exist as the water has eroded the softer rock down to the dolerite. It will re-appear on the walk as the Romans built Hadrian’s wall on dolerite outcrops and it extends as far east as Lindisfarne.

The path was a mixture of easy riverside walking interspersed by scrambles over rocks. Three fishermen passed me, there is a confluence of becks just below Cow Green reservoir where, they told me, there is an abundance of brown trout.

Falcon Clints

The third waterfall that I passed on the Upper Tees is also very impressive:

Cauldron Snout

Although the wet weather is detrimental to the walk, it has the advantage of making the waterfalls impressive. The noise of the falling water is amplified by the rock walls around the fall giving the whole thing the feeling of being in a devilish cauldron.

The route ascends to the right of the fall by an easy but fun scramble over the rocks. I then crossed in front of the dam and then followed Maize Beck upstream.

Looking back to Falcon Clints

To the south of the path is deserted moorland. Every 100 yards or so there are danger signs as this is an army training area. There were no signs of troops or ammunition today.

For the day I have been following a figure with a big pack that walks about the same pace as me so I never catch up. Today she (as it turned out) was delayed chatting to an Estonian couple studying in Cambridge and up here for a bit of walking. Ann (if I remember correctly) is from Merseyside and is a keen long distance walker.

After another mile we crossed the watershed. Wee towards Maize Beck and it will eventually come to the North Sea; cross the ridge and it will drain into the Irish Sea. We came to what I think is the most impressive sight of Lejog so far: High Cup Nick

You have probably seen professional pictures of this on calendars and neither these nor my pictures do it justice. It is an enormous U shaped valley the shape of a bath tub. When I was up here with Angela a few years ago a geologist we met tried to explain to us how it was formed. It is a glacial valley but, because of the watershed ridge and the resistant dolerite (High Cup Nick is another outcrop of Whin Sill), the “closed” end of the bath never became eroded. Apologies if I misunderstood.

Just after these pictures were taken the heavens opened and it was a brisk walk along the right hand edge of the nick and down to Dufton. Fortunately the rain stopped while I put my tent up. There were about 7 sets of solo or group walkers in the field doing the PW. most of us ended up (socially distanced) in the excellent Stag Inn for dinner