Saturday, September 25, 2010


It's three and a half years since we last drove through the Stang Forest, on the road from Barnard Castle in Teesdale to Reeth in Swaledale, so it was a bit of a surprise today to find that most of it had disappeared - or, more precisely, had been converted into logs that were waiting to be transported away. In the past we've stopped here quite often to follow a trail through the forest rides to Hope Scar - a cliff where, from a height of  450m. a.s.l. you can view a magnificent landscape away to the north. Now that the trees are gone you don't need to do that any more and for the first time in a generation you can enjoy the view from the road as you crest the top of the hill.

This is the lower part of Teesdale and the valley of the River Greta, bathed in every-shifting patches of sunlight. In the foreground lies what's left of this part of the Stang forest - great piles of branches. Double-click on these three images for a bigger panoramic view - I've loaded them in a slightly larger size than usual.

Almost directly to the north, 6km. away and in the centre of this picture lies the market town of Barnard Castle (see Adrian's Images blog for some fine pictures). Right centre is the famous Bowes Museum, modelled on a French chateau and filled with art treasures and an amazing mechanical silver swan automaton. To the left of that are two small wind turbines that power the GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceuticals plant, while the very large wind turbines on the horizon are at Tow Law, 30km. distant. 

Turn your eyes 90 degrees to the east and Middlesbrough and the cooling towers and chimneys of industrial Teesside can be seen, away on the coast, about 40 km. away. One of those tall objects on the horizon, just above the farm gate, is the famous transporter bridge - the last bridge across the River Tees before it reaches the sea.

Now that all the trees have been felled you can admire these unimpeded views from the brow of the hill....... but don't take your eys off the road for too long, because it's a 14% descent with double hairpin bends on the way down.

Back at the top of the hill the spruces may have been felled but their progeny are already growing away - no doubt the whole forest will soon be replanted, but this seedling wasn't wasting any time.


  1. The views are magnificent. I feel extremely sad when I see forests cleared, but probably a new forest will come up in ten years.

  2. Grand views of an area I'm slowly getting to know. Thanks for bumping the size up and for the plug.

  3. Fantastic views Phil. I love the scenery round Barney and Staindrop. We drive in on the road from West Auckland, and the first glimpse of Raby Castle from the top of the hill never fails to impress me.

    That's a very touching image of the seedling. :)

  4. Hi lotusleaf, our conifer foresta are planted and felled on a 30-40 year cycle and I expect they'll replant this one next year

  5. Have you seen the silver swan Adrian? I think they only operate it a couple of times a day but there's a movie of it on YouTube at

  6. A very fine garden at Raby Castle too Lesley....

  7. Phil,
    i was up on Wednesday, like yourself -for the first time in a couple of years & was slightly taken aback at the scale of the harvesting.

    We went to move & reposition some Tawny boxes - 1 just in the nick of time !

    It amazes me that owt can grow out of that clearfelled landscape - it looks like a WW1 battlefield !! - very surprised at the ammount of regen.

    We can see the distinctive shape of the Stang from the escarpment here at Houghton-le-Spring, @55km to the NE.

    As a bit of a bird-geek, the first thing i thought when i saw the clearance at the hill top was - this is going to be an excellent & easily accessible place to observe Nightjars over the next few years.

    (we aged one of the largest stumps at @ 50 years old - a guy showed us a Tawny nest close to there 2 year back - the bird had young in a nest on the ground in a cavity between two huge butress roots).

    Amazed to read about Plant Enemy #1.

  8. Hi Stevie,I was pretty shocked when I saw it too. Hope Scar used to be a good spot for watching raptors and I once had some wonderful views of a short-eared owl quartering the ground at the base of the cliff. Last time I was there the spruces were full of crossbills and we watched them working the cones in the crowns of the trees as we sat on the edge of the cliff. Still, as you say, it could become a great spot for nightjars........... I wonder if the rhododendrons will begin to colonise all those open spaces now?