Middleton in Teesdale is a small market town at the start of the upper reaches of Teesdale. It grew in the nineteenth century as a centre for lead-mining and several buildings from this period remain; but now it’s become more of an attraction for visitors and explorers. Eleven of us gathered next to the sadly closed tourist information centre. We were all set for a tramp across the local hills!
We crossed the river and followed it for a while, and soon reached the old railway line. A victim of the 1960s Beeching cuts, it’s now an attractive route for walkers. Having passed over the handsome and picturesquely located Laithkirk viaduct, we turned gradually uphill and through fields with increasingly broadening views back across the valley. We passed alongside the Grassholme reservoir where a few hardy people were preparing to set out with small sailing boats. Some of us had been here before, in wetter and muddier conditions than today. At the top end we crossed a narrow stone bridge and climbed to a grassy verge to pause for lunchtime sandwiches.
A short way beyond we turned through a farmyard. Signposting showed we were on the Pennine Way long-distance footpath. The path took us uphill to where we could see the reservoir below, and a larger one now behind us, further up the valley. This was the valley of the slightly lesser River Lune, not the more famous one associated with Lancaster on the other side of the Pennines. Around us were occasional signs of the former quarrying and industrial workings. The view was now extensive up and down the wider Teesdale. From the top we were downhill back towards the town where we could clearly see our final destination.
Back in Middleton we were presented with a choice of teashops. We sat down with welcome tea and cake before debooting and dispersing, looking forward to our next event.
Thanks are due to Martin and David for facilitating our walk, and for giving us plenty of background information on this interesting and attractive part of the north east of England.