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The Teesdale Way – Section 03

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Distance: 7.2 km (4.5 miles) | Profile: Gently undulating | Going: Generally good – mainly over farmland on well-constructed trails and footpaths which are muddy in places. Generally sheltered with many stile crossings some of which are quite challenging | General Stores: Middleton-in-Teesdale

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Section 3 of the Teesdale Way is 7.2 km (4.5 miles) from Holwick Head footbridge to Middleton-in-Teesdale.From Holwick Head we continue downstream on a flat well-maintained footpath – still on the Pennine Way – to Low Force, a popular spot for relaxing, picnicking and watching any kayakers who may have turned up to shoot the falls. Access to the other side of the river is via Wynch Bridge; a quaint-looking suspension bridge of Victorian antiquity  that will be appreciated by the child in all of us.

If you cross the bridge, you’ll need to return because we continue our journey on the same side of the river. Shortly after leaving the bridge we pass the tell-tale spoil heaps of old mine workings where we can see an old barred adit (tunnel) disappearing into the hillside. On the other side is a highly photogenic limestone gorge which can be easily accessed when the water is low. Further downstream is Scoberry footbridge that links the trail with Bowlees and Newbiggin. The limestone pavements on which it stands are a nice place to relax on a warm day.

Thereafter we enter a network of stone-walled pastures that lasts for the rest of the section and where we encounter a diverse range of stiles and gates. In spring these fields are filled with sheep and their lambs whose access around them is carefully controlled by the farmer who can block the purpose-built holes in the walls with iron sheets that are kept close by.

As we continue through the fields, on the ridge ahead and slightly to our right we can see the copse of Kirkcarrion that stands out as a defining Teesdale landmark much like the ‘Elephant Trees’ do in neighbouring Weardale. Below that is Crossthwaite Quarry one of the abandoned whinstone quarries that once exploited the Whin Sill along the road to Holwick .

Soon after, we reach the main road by the cattle market and Middleton Bridge that marks the end of this section. Across the bridge lies Middleton in Teesdale, the ‘capital’ of Upper Teesdale while across the road is a rare old triangular cast-iron mile post, half-buried and indicating ‘Greta Bridge’ to the south; and to the north? I can’t work it out!