Thursday, January 20, 2011

Teesdale in the Snow

Today's Guardian Country Diary is an account of a visit to Teesdale, just before the last fall of snow began to thaw. The dale is exceptionally beautiful when it's snow-covered - if you can reach it. This is the view looking upstream in the middle dale from the road just east of Middleton-in-Teesdale (it looks better if you double-click on this image and the one below).















The valley floor here is a patchwork of small farms, famous for their haymeadows which have progressively finer displays of wildlfowers in summer as you travel further up the valley.
All the farms in the dale that belong to the Raby Estate are whitewashed, supposedly because a former Duke was refused shelter during a storm at a farm that he mistakenly believed belonged to a tenant - and he was determined never to make the same mistake again.

These are hay barns at Bowlees, where you can cross the River Tees at Wynch Bridge, a precarious suspension footbridge at a point where the river sweezes through a narrow gorge below. The bridge offers ...

... fine views downstream and ....

... upstream....

... where the waterfalls of Low Force are a scenic feature.



















During the coldest weeks of the winter the river froze here, then during a thaw the rising water shattered the ice into four inch-thick plates that were perched on the rocks in midstream and on the riverbank when we visited.
We were heading up-river, towards High Force, into an icy, face-numbing wind blowing down from Dufton Fell ....

.. but nevertheless there were a few signs of spring, even in these freezing conditions; catkins of goat willow forcing their way out from under bud scales.

High Force, the highest waterfall on the river (but not the longest - that's Cauldron Snout, upstream, that tumbles over a lot of rock steps on its way down). When the river is in spate, after a sudden thaw for example, water cascades over both sides of High Force's central rocky pillar but on this visit it was relatively tranquil, although the waterfall's spray had frozen into some impressive stalactites on the rock face.

It was something of a relief to turn our backs to the wind and head for home. This photo sums up the icy chill of the day, with long shadows cast at the end of a short winter afternoon.

16 comments:

  1. Beautiful images of a great river. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Stunning photographs Phil and double-clicking on them reveals the full splendour! I like both our dales but, for me, Teesdale just has the edge on Weardale.... it doesn't seem as rugged.

    It was interesting to read of the duke's mishap..... I just thought that Lord Barnard insisted on his properties all being whitewashed. :O)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Gorgeous photoa. I doble clicke on each one and enjoyed the view. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Beautiful shots Phil.
    Such stunning scenery there.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It is many many years since I've walked the Tees to High Force, and this brough back happy memories of a wonderful part of the world.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi adrian, it's a lovely stretch of the Tees, in any season - I'm looking forward to walking it again in spring..

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Lesley, I know what you mean about Teesdale, it is more agricultural, I think each of the dales Teesdale, Swaledale, Wensleydale are a little bit more agricultural as you go further south, whereas most of Weardale is pretty rugged...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks lotusleaf, it is a lovely part of Northern England

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Keith, the elevated view from the road is particularly good in mid-summer when they are haymaking and you get a bird's eye view of the operations...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Wessex Reiver, I don't think you'd find that it has changed much - the globe flowers, butterfly orchids, bird's eye primrose and butterworts are still there.....

    ReplyDelete
  11. A magnificent set of images Phil.
    Mark

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Mark I always think that one of the plus points of snow is that it shows off trees in winter to best advantage. I'm very impressed with Aira Force on your blog - waterfalls are exhilarating, aren't they.....?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Teesdale is one of my favourite dales in late May and June when all the beautiful spring flowers are out, it's a delight.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Me too David. I particular;y like to take the road down from Alston - the wild flowers on some of the roadside banks are wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  15. my family lived in this place years and years ago and I would love to visit someday

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hope you get to visit Teesdale C, it's a lovely place

    ReplyDelete