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Baldersdale, Cotherstone Moor, Godís Bridge, Bowes, Levy Pool, Co Durham.
[21.8 km] Tue 06 Jan 2015

OS Grid Ref: NY 93533 17653
Lat/Long: +54.554078, -02.101495

It rained most of the way for the drive to the end of the lane above Blackton Reservoir. The map shows a parking area but it is little more than an overtaking space. It was dull and overcast when I set off with a cold wind blowing in from the west. I followed a faint path approximately south which was easy to follow but rather wet in places.

Bridge before the shooting hut & shelter

Over Race Yate Rigg the path took a steady descent to a footbridge at Deepdale Beck. On the far side was a new and substantial shooting hut but the main door was locked. At the end of the building was a sign saying ĎShelterí and an arrow.

Shooting hut and shelter

Round the side was an unlocked door which gave me access to a small room with chairs. It must be left unlocked for passing travellers which I found very useful. It was still early but I used its comfortable interior to eat my sandwiches.

Inside the shelter

The route continued south to Duckett Syke but then I was lured away by a track to reach a line of shooting butts. I had to cross some rough ground to re-join the Pennine Way route at Ravock Castle (which isnít a castle). Across open ground I soon saw the rushing traffic on the main A66 trunk road. The path improved down to the buildings at Pasture End. The only way across the trunk road was via a pedestrian underpass, though it is big enough to take farm vehicles.

A66 underpass

A steep track took me down past a house then past the remains of a bridge on the old abandoned railway which was closed in 1962.

The old railway

An earlier sign had pointed me towards ĎGodís Bridgeí which I now kept an eye out for. I was expecting an old stone packhorse bridge but instead came to a natural limestone feature that spanned the almost dry River Greta. I entered the fields to the east and saw a map on a sign.

God's Bridge

It was called East Mellwaters Farm Footpath map. It showed some new paths that arenít on the map. I followed one near the river but soon left it for a higher one. It turned out I could have stayed on it the whole way to West Charity Farm. By now the earlier rain had stopped but it was still overcast. I reached the road at West Gates and followed it in to Bowes.

Entering Bowes

I took a minor lane towards the ruined castle which was in a surprisingly good condition. Bowes Castle is an impressive ruin of Henry II's 12th-century keep, on the site of a Roman fort. The castle was built in the 1170s.

Bowes Castle

I didnít have time to have a look at it but continued up the lane and over the A66. The road continued NW and up on to the moor.

Crossing over the A66

I soon came to several danger signs for unexploded ordnance and toxic material. This was the extensive site of a long abandoned R.A.F camp dating to WW2.
The site is RAF Bowes Moor (No 81 Maintenance Unit.) Used between 1941 and 1947, primarily for the storage of mustard gas bombs. The site has a look of total dereliction but is supposedly now decontaminated.

Old R.A.F. camp

It is a dead end road and I continued to the remote buildings of Levy Pool. These are in the course of being renovated using thatched roofing which looks completely out of place high on the Pennine Moors. Down to the west of the buildings I came to the substantial footbridge across Deepdale Beck which I crossed for the second time today.

Levy Pool

The continuing path was indistinct for a while but improved on the approach to Ladyfold Rigg. I made a detour to photograph an interesting triangular shaped rock that Andy Beck of Teesdale Gallery has unofficially named The "Toberlone" stone, which I thought a perfect name. I re-joined the path and continued north. Through a gate I saw the stone outcrop of Goldsborough up ahead. It is quite a spectacular feature with large protruding overhangs. Robin Hoodís Hole is one of the features but I didnít go up to investigate. The path soon reached the road and a mile walk back to the car.

Toberlone stone

Goldsborough

Goldsborough