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Route No 87 - 18 July 2003
High Force, Pennine Way, Ashdub, Dirt Pit circuit - 11km
Teesdale . . .

Map: OS Explorer OL31 Map of Teesdale at 1:25000
Route Map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service

High Force on the Tees from the official view point
High Force on the Tees from the official view point

We paid up and set off down a well maintained path for about 500m to the falls. Even in the rain it was worth it. In fact I suppose the overnight downpour had made the falls all the more spectacular. We spent a few minutes taking in the scene and the rain seemed to ease a little and the sky was not quite as leaden.As we headed back up the path to the car park it became much warmer and the sun broke through. We collected our rucsacs, hung our wet anoraks over the top of them and set off in our shirt sleeves. What an amazing turn around. There's no wonder we talk about the weather so much. We took the path opposite the car park entrance down through the woods to the bank of the river Tees and headed downstream for about 500m to a footbridge over the river at map ref. NY 889283. We crossed the footbridge and headed back upstream on the opposite bank along the Pennine Way. After about a kilometre we were back at High Force, but this time on the opposite bank over looking the falls from a (free) viewpoint on top of the gorge. It's an amazing sight as the whole River Tees is forced through a narrow gap in the rocks to fall with a roar of white foam over 20 metres into a deep pool below.

This morning we decided to give ourselves a treat and drove a bit further than usual to High Force in upper Teesdale. The weather was very bad with heavy rain and thunder but it was supposed to break up later in the morning. We parked in the High Force car park at map ref. NY 886286 (it costs £1.50 for all day). We sat in the car for a drink and a sandwich and watched the rain bouncing several centimetres high from the huge puddles and listening to the rumble of thunder all round us. It was beginning to look like a quick look at the waterfall in the rain and head for home. We grabbed our boots and waterproofs from the boot and got changed in the car and headed off for the falls only to find it was another £1 each to go to the viewing area.

High Force on the Tees from the Pennine Way
High Force on the Tees from the Pennine Way

Looking up Teesdale towards Cow Green
Looking up Teesdale towards Cow Green

We followed the Pennine Way upstream, passed a working quarry, for 3.5km to the bridge over the Tees at map ref. NY 862294. From the bridge we followed a path across the fields to the road at map ref. NY 866298. There are many paths in this area and not all well used. There are not many signs, except for brand new fingerposts where the paths meet a road, so we were glad of the field boundaries marked on the OS 1:25000 series to navigate this and the rest of our route. Weturned right on to the road and walked along it for 300m to one of the nice new footpath signs standing next to a new dry stone wall. A fine job they had made of it too. The snag was that despite the sign there was no stile in the wall. The whole wall had two courses of 'throughs' - long stones that pass right through the thickness of the wall - so it was quite easy to climb over.

River Tees looking upstream on the Pennine Way above High Force
River Tees looking upstream on the Pennine Way above High Force

River Tees just above High Force

Above: River Tees just above High Force

Right: High Force seen from the Pennine Way

From here we had intended to walk a bigger circuit taking in Gibson's Cave and Bowlees and returning up the riverside. However the weather which had been really quite good since we set off was now strating to close in again so we decided to head back to the car park, about 1.5km away via Dirt Pit. We got back to the car at about 2.30pm. The route we had walked was about 11km and had taken us three and a half hours including a couple of stops.

We followed the path up to a barn called Egg Pot on the map. We made our way along the paths, where there were a few signs and reasonable sitles over all the walls, to the road at map ref. NY 883300. We walked 100m down the road and took a track to the left which drops down to the beck and doubles back over a ford (there's also a foot bridge). We followed the path across the fields to Ashdub at map ref. NY 888296.

High Force seen from the Pennine Way

Looking north on the Pennine Way above Conkley
Looking North on the Pennine Way above Conkley