31 Marrick – Barnard Castle

Marrick to Barnard Castle 22 miles (35.2Km.)

Meeting the Coast to Coast at Marrick

Meeting the Coast to Coast at MarrickPillimire Bridge near Marske

Leaving Marrick I had to consult the book when confronted by signs making clear the obvious track was ‘not public’. I wondered if Wainwright had originally used this route. Upon later inspection of the O.S. Explorer guide for the Coast to Coast I note that AW’s route at Nun Cote Farm and Hollins Farm has usurped the Definitive line along this well walked section of the GEW shared with the C-C.

Pillimire Bridge near Marske

Pillimire Bridge near Marske

The GEW doubles back and ignores the road approach to Marske to cross Pillimire Bridge which is a striking reminder that footpaths are an important part of our heritage. Here we have a substantial ancient stone arched bridge which carries nothing more than those on foot. A meeting of the ways for five footpaths, reminding us that our rights of way network is precious and to my mind should never be abused by changes such as that proposed at Marrick Abbey.

The hub of this wooden wheel reads "Bristol"

The hub of this wooden wheel reads "Bristol"

Another sheltered and pleasant walk along the Marske Beck through Clints Wood leads to Orgate Force. Only a gently flow today but very pleasant and well worth a short meander from the definitive line. Telfit Bank offers more protection along the track to the farm as Postman Pat takes his red van along the rough stone track to deliver that one item of ‘junk mail’?

Orgate Force

Orgate Force

The valley walk continues to the distressed Manor Farm where the crumbling road surface must offer a significant challenge if the residents need to leave the farm in winter conditions. The climb now starts towards High Moor and an exit form North Yorkshire. The area is criss-crossed by paths but the one I’m guided along and perhaps all the others, have little sign of frequent footfall. I follow the line of Grouse Butts having failed to locate a clear track on the line of the bridleway.

High Moor Grouse Butts

High Moor Grouse Butts

At the gate a waymark arrow hanging from a single nail rattles in the wind and points the way along a faint vehicle track across less hostile ground into County Durham. There is a clear path through The Stang so with light rain I shelter under the trees for lunch. From East Hope to Scargill I note a few issues to raise with the Highway Authority before plunging into the hidden valley of the River Greta.

Bridge of the River Greta

Bridge of the River Greta

Suddenly I get that feeling, ‘I’ve been here before’. I can’t recall the full walk but I had certainly followed this delightful treasure explored by just a few intrepid walkers, going by the narrow faint path that I now followed for three enjoyable miles to Greta Bridge.

Abandoned chapel near Brignall

Abandoned chapel near Brignall

The GEW soon joins the Teesdale Way but our path offers a view of Mortham Tower and its well kept grounds. I have a vivid memory of the cottage overlooking the gorge at Dairy Bridge I peered over the bridge to admire the gorge just as the washing machine discharged soapy water directly into the river Greta below. Well I hope it was that and not the loo being flushed.

The River Tees at Egglestone Bridge

The River Tees at Egglestone Bridge

Even if the view of the Tees is sometimes obscured the noise of the water fighting to pass between the rocks below is impressive, making the occasional glimpse of brown foaming water an added bonus for this walk to Egglestone Bridge. I disregarded the instruction to ignore the first path after the bridge but was fortunate to see the error of my way when I next passed along the road in the car. While I could see the top of Egglestone Abbey from the riverside path, the GEW path offered an aerial view of the remains on the opposite bank.

Barnard Castle is one if not my favourite northern town so it was a delight to approach yet again and pass through on this special walk. A place to have a day or more break from the walk with plenty to see and do in the town dispelling any fear that the only way to pass a break day is to go for a walk.

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Great English Walk map of section 31

Great English Walk map of section 31

 

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 31

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 31

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