I’ve done this walk before, following the circuit in an anti-clockwise direction because the clockwise route starts with a stinger of an uphill ….. and ends with a stinger of an uphill. Today I decided to call off my boycott of the clockwise route.
It begins in the centre of Allendale, on a footpath beside the well that Victorian benefactor Isaac Holden gave to the village. To save me explaining it to you, here’s the plaque beside the well:
From a small housing estate the path headed diagonally up the compressed contour lines, trending south. It crossed several fields which were below the snowline but frozen rock hard. Several walls and fences offered stiles slippery enough to scare Torvill and Dean.
This part of my walk wasn’t on Isaac’s Tea Trail, but it looked across the River East Allen valley to the meadows which would be my return route along the Tea Trail.
Many of the green fields in the view are managed as traditional hay meadows and it made me smile to think of all those flower and grass seeds sitting in the frozen soil until the warmth returns.
At the top of my climb I walked out of the shaded valley side and into the sunshine, with just enough snow on the ground to crunch under my boots. (This ‘top’ was at a mere 1,087 feet, a climb of a mere 267 feet from Allendale at 820 feet, so you can see I’m a real drama queen when it comes to tackling any uphillness).
Next, a gradual descent across fields and more slippery stiles followed a path pointing straight up the valley, directly into the sun which was flaring off the snowy hill tops.
Despite the bright sunshine, the ground was still like concrete. On the plus side, this meant the mud was solid and therefore thwarted in its mission to coat my boots, but on the minus side every hoofprint, mole hill and tyre track had become a rigid ankle-rocker. My trusty trekking pole helped me keep my balance though, and I headed downhill, aiming to cross the B6295 and join Isaac’s Tea Trail.
At this point my trekking pole ceased to be trusty.
It went from telescopic to two pieces, and no amount of pushing, twisting, bashing and swearing would make the two sections reunite.
So ….. rather than take my planned return route alongside the river and across the meadows, I decided to walk back to Allendale along the road. It runs almost parallel to Isaac’s Tea Trail and the pavement is soft underfoot thanks to a carpet of larch needles.
Less lovely was the line of litter beside the fence, probably chucked out of passing cars. I was still carrying the pointy bit of my broken stick, so the perpetrators had a lucky escape.
Although it wasn’t the full walk as I’d planned it, it was a super little circuit enhanced by snowy views and sunshine. And of course heading back along the road meant I avoided the stinger of the uphill climb from the river bank back into the village.
There’s more information about Isaac’s Tea Trail at http://isaacs-tea-trail.co.uk/ This is a new website, still under development, but already has lots of useful details.
Follow me on twitter @isaacsfootsteps