We set off for High and Low Force for the second time this year. Again, some of the regular group hadn’t been able to make the original walk but really wanted to do this one as they had never been to the area. So, we put this on again in October.
Gibson’s Cave and Summerhill Force
We arrived at 9:15, 45 minutes before the Bowlees Visitor Centre opened, so we would have to wait for breakfast. While we were waiting, we decided to take a look at Gibson’s Cave. This is only a short walk from the Bowlees car park and well worth a look. Sunmmerhill Force cascades over the top of Gibson’s Cave.
We set off from the warm visitor’s centre and out into the Autumn air. There was a chill in the air, which was distinctly different to last time we were here, when it was very much a summer day. However, we were suitably rewarded by the beautiful autumn leaves on the trees.
We followed the diversion down river, that we had used on the previous occasion. This wasn’t an enforced detour, or even an unplanned one. We did it because it is one of the best parts of the walk. It’s quieter than the main areas and there is some spectacular scenery on the way.
We crossed the Tees to join the Pennine Way and walked up the opposite side of the river. There had been rumours of a kingfisher sighting, so we were on the lookout. Unfortunately, nobody saw it.
Soon we were at Low Force. Ruth asked if this was High Force. She had never been here before and was assured that she’d know High Force when she saw it.
Even at Low Force, we could see that the recent wet weather had resulted in significantly more flow over the falls than there had been in the summer.
Some of us crossed Wynch Bridge, for a different view from the other side. This is a bit of a drawn out process, as Wynch Bridge is a somewhat unique in being a 200 year old, grade 2 listed, suspension bridge and, for safety reasons, only one person is allowed on it at any time. Once everyone was back on the South side of the river, we set off again.
Some of the best scenery of the walk is along this stretch. It was worth taking our time to enjoy and take plenty of photos.
We could hear the thunder of High Force long before we reached it. On arrival at the usual viewpoint, each of the group took turns to take the customary souvenir photo.
A little way further up, you can get very close to the top of the waterfall. The water tumbling over the falls, is only feet away, and the power and noise is incredible.
We decided to have lunch here. Julie had brought some of her birthday cake, that was baked by Martin. Everyone tried it and said it was good.
The return journey
As on the previous walk we continued past High Force and further upwards into the valley. Following the Pennine Way to Forest in Teesdale and the turning East to head back. At this point we encountered the only inclement weather of the day, though miraculously we avoided the worst of it.
The route back was uneventful. Anne didn’t find the goat that followed her last time. However, close to the finish we met a substantial bull. He was standing just off the path, with his back to us. There was no option. We had to pass him. Keeping a respectful distance we got through the next gate. He was a handsome beast, but everyone was glad to get by him.
We finished the day back at the Bowlees Visitor Centre. Julie had reserved her sandwich and cake, just in case they ran out, and they had. Martin just took pot luck, so missed out on cake.
Another great day out with great people. See you on the next walk.
Julie and Martin