The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

From Yarm to Hurworth-on-Tees

A chunk of the Teesdale Way, between Yarm and Hurworth, may seem like a bit of an odd choice for a day walk for Midlands-dwelling people, but that is where we walked yesterday, with our purpose being to meet up with Conrad, who is currently walking from Lowestoft to St. Bees.

A good evening had been spent in Conrad’s company on Sunday night, having picked him up at the end of his day’s walking and whisked him off to the nearest campsite, and then bright and early yesterday morning, I deposited the chaps back in Yarm. Leaving them to start walking, off I tootled to find a suitable place to leave the car for the day, before hot-footing it back to the Tees to loiter on a bridge, which gave a good opportunity to admire the adjacent viaduct:

IMG_1712Once Conrad and Mick had surprised me by emerging from a direction other than the one I expected, onto the Teesdale Way we went, at first finding it to be a well-trodden path (courtesy of local dog-walkers, I imagine).

Beyond the boundary of dog-walkers’ territory, the path became a little less distinct, but still not bad:

IMG_1714Then things all became a little more difficult as the undergrowth got more and more overgrown, finally descending into the realms of farce as we found ourselves wading through monstrously tall green stuff including nettles and giant hogweed (which I can confirm deserves the ‘giant’ bit of its name).

With the unpleasantness of nettle-rash, and the dire warning posters about the dangers of touching giant hogweed, progress was slowed as we wended our way through in single-file:

IMG_1718It transpired that we were a day early in tackling one of the more overgrown sections; as we reached the end of the field eight chaps in Personal Protective Equipment and wielding strimmers emerged from the woodland and made their way towards us. They warned us that we still had one overgrown section to go – and they weren’t wrong.

Some of the greenery was festooned with spiky black caterpillars:


The trials of monster plants did finally abate, and the rest of the walk was pleasant indeed, with farmland, the edge of a few villages and all nice easy walking. What was particularly notable, though, was that for a walk that mainly follows a river, in the section we walked we barely had a glimpse of the water as it was hidden variously by a bank, by trees or by monster plantage.

At Lower Dinsdale none of us felt inclined to take large three-sides-of-a-square loop of the Teesdale Way, so after lunch in front of the village church:

IMG_1720 it was to tarmac that we took for the last chunk of the day.

Chatting away, it seemed like no time had passed before we got into Hurworth, from where we were to part company with Conrad. He was to head further towards St Bees; we were to take some field-paths up to Darlington to catch a train back to the car.

We didn’t take to those field-paths. A bus stop was spotted and the timetable told us that the next bus was only ten minutes hence.

With no thanks to the bus driver, who promised to tell us when we needed to get off his bus and then completely forgot, forty-five minutes later we had successfully trotted back across Darlington, negotiated our way onto and off the right train and were striding back towards the car for our journey home.

It was great to catch up with Conrad (who we first met, 2 years ago, in a field with awful stiles, somewhere in Somerset, as we were all making our ways from Land’s End to John O’Groats), and we look forward to keeping track with what is left of his walk.

The stats for my day were 12.5 miles walked (Mick walked further, having started in Yarm) with (allegedly) 1000 feet of upness (I remember one small bank and a few minor undulations; not sure where the rest of that ascent occurred)


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for coming to walk with, and for your various other contributions. This was a Most enjoyable interlude for me. I am sorry you had to put up with all the savegry of nettles and the dreaded GIANT Hogweed.