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Bowes, River Greta, Brignall Mill, Scargill Castle, Gutters, Spanham, Co Durham..
[18.9 km] Wed 25 Mar 2015

OS Grid Ref:

I set off in early morning sunshine and before Lancaster watched the sunrise to my right as I drove north along the M6. Approaching Tebay I was in fog and by the time I left the A66 at Bowes the sky was total cloud. I parked at the end of the lane near Plover Hall where I’d started a walk on Wed 04th March 2015. Today I’m heading the other way and set off east along the long walled lane and across ‘The Rigg’ The path was faint but easy to follow.
It was mostly good underfoot but I had to cross several ditches which may have been a problem in wet weather. At the end of the moor I reached the old house of High Barn. I’ve seen many similar empty houses in remote areas. Most are empty and slowly rotting or nothing more than piles of rubble. I peered inside. It had not been occupied for many years but most of the contents were still there. It felt like I’d found a Mary Celeste brigantine or Flannan Isles lighthouse mystery. Everything still in its place but nobody there.

Long lane

High Barn

High barn door

High Barn interior

High Barn interior

I followed the farm track to Rutherford Farm by the road. My map didn’t show a public footpath but there was a track by-passing the farm buildings and reaching the road. I followed the road to Lodge Farm gate with a sign saying ‘Lodge Farm Holidays’ and ‘Caravan Club’. I followed the track to the farmhouse where I saw a woman. I asked about the church I was heading for down to the right. She said it wasn’t used as a church anymore and used to be a school. I followed the path down the hill, over the river and up to the Church building. It was small and locked. I peered through the window and could see simple bench pews inside. The 1912 map still shows it as a school so I don’t know when it changed to a church or when the church closed.

Church near Lodge Farm



Bridge at Brignall Mill

Brignall Mill bildings

The line of the path down to the River Greta wasn’t obvious and I had trouble finding it. Eventually I was going the right way but shortly after reaching the River Greta there was a ‘Footpath Diversion’ sign going up to the right. With no map shown or indication why I decided to carry on. I hadn’t gone far before I came to a tangle of fallen trees and no way through. They had been down for many years so it looks like they couldn’t be bothered to clear a way through so diverted the path. I climbed up the steep valley side to the top and continued along the field edge. I descended back down to the River Greta at the footbridge to Brignall Mill.

River Greta

Path by the river

Path above the river

I didn’t visit the mill buildings as I needed to stay on the south side of the river. Fortunately the path was now much easier to follow and no diversions. Just over a mile was a fork in the path. I turned right to turn south by the side of Gill Beck. The valley sides were much steeper but eventually the path dropped down to the river and a footbridge where the valley bottom was flat but still with plenty of trees. I reached Gillbeck Bridge and Chapel lane where I turned right to follow the road. Up the hill and just in the field to the right was some masonry sticking out of the grass.

All that's left of the old Church

I walked passed without thinking then had to return when I realised that it was the chapel remains shown on the map. It was still shown as just a wall outline on the 1840s map. I came to the entrance drive of Scargill Castle and walked to the building which is by the extensive farm buildings. The castle building dates from the 1550s and was then a gatehouse. It has now been totally renovated as a holiday retreat. There was also a Channel 4 ‘Time Team’ TV programme about it on 1 Nov 2009.
This link should take you to the programme.
I chatted to the farmer who told me the tower had been bought for £100. It now costs about £800/week to stay there. I returned to Chapel Lane and headed towards Moor Lane. It was interesting to note that the 1840s map didn’t show Chapel Lane continuing over the river.

Scargill Castle

Scargill Castle

Scargill Castle

Up Moor Lane I continued to the end, through the gate and to the ruins of Gutters. Only the walls were standing and it looked like there had been more than one dwelling. Across fields I came to Garnthwaite Farm and then followed its access track to the road at Stang Lane which connects to Arkengarthdale to the south. Along the road I soon left it for Spanham Farm then along the farm track towards Spanham West Hill. I was now on the same track I’d walked on my 4th March walk. I followed it via Farewell Farm and back to my car.



Spanham West Hill