Jo’s Monday walk : High Force and Gibson’s Cave


It’s almost like a watercolour, isn’t it?  The light was so beautiful on that late December day in Teesdale, and the sense of freedom was intoxicating. The days on either side of it had sheeted with rain, and there was little doubt in my mind that the Tees would be in full spate.  Where better to head than spectacular High Force waterfall, situated within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Beauty?


From the car parking at High Force, you can walk down to view the falls and then follow the river downstream to Low Force, pictured in my first photo.  A sign at the top of the path grabbed my attention- a reminder that the power of nature is nothing new at all.


High Force formed where the River Tees crosses the Whin Sill– a hard layer of igneous rock.  The waterfall itself is comprised of three different types of rock.  The upper band is whinstone, or dolerite- a hard igneous rock which is slow to erode.  The lower section is carboniferous limestone- much softer and easily worn away.  Between the two, carboniferous sandstone was baked hard when Whin Sill was molten 295 million years ago.  This combination means that the waterfall is slowly moving upstream as the rock wears away.

I had no sense of this, as I stood there, enveloped in a world of water.  The temporary fine weather, and the respite between Christmas and New Year, had brought the crowds to gaze in wonder.  I edged as close as I could, happy to worship alongside them.

As I walked back up the path, the rocks streamed with water, and the frailty of the trees was visible all around me.  It’s many years since I was last at High Force, and I had to ask myself why.  The countryside is so beautiful!


Looking at the map in the car park, I followed the river along to Bowlees Visitor Centre, and my attention was caught by a short walk to Gibson’s Cave.  Something new to me!  My husband knew from the glint in my eye that this was my next target.

I was delighted to find that the somewhat muddy path followed a tributary of the river, and that there were more waterfalls in store.

The route bypasses abandoned Bowlees Quarry and I stopped to read the signs.  It was too wet underfoot to do more.

The drystone walls and even the fences were covered in spongy, green moss, but it was the bed of the river that captivated.  The rock formation was unlike anything I’d seen before- an intricate scratching of patterns .




You can see the path, running alongside the falls.  It was a little slippy in places and I had to scramble through a fallen tree, but the end was in sight- Gibson’s Cave.  But who was Gibson?  A ‘lovable rogue’, apparently.




Did you read the explanation of the patterns on the river bed?  Layers of grey limestone, sandstone and dark shale, in a tropical sea about 330 million years ago.  Quite incredible!  And Gibson?  A happy, 16th century outlaw.

That wasn’t the end of my adventures for the day, but I think that it’s a good point at which to stop.  The Bowlees Visitor Centre is nearby and, if you’re lucky, it might be open.  Cake, or something more substantial?

Next week we’ll carry on to Low Force.  It’s just as lovely, so I hope that you can join me.

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First things first- let’s put the kettle on and get settled for a good read.  Huge thanks to my lovely contributors!  If you have a walk you’d like to share I’m always happy to have you along.  Details of how to join in are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.


Let’s start with Debbie, and some beautiful views of Edinburgh :

Up Calton Hill

Jackie is still enjoying Mexico!

Monday Walk- La Noria

And Amy takes me to a beach I remember from long ago :

Monday Walk : Clearwater Beach

There’s one thing my friend Drake has for sure!

Independent Mind  (And a love of beautiful places too)

Back to the rain forest with Lee Ann for two super walks, in quite different places!

O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk

MacRitchie Trails Rainforest Walk

Anyone ready for a snowy walk yet?  Not too much snow, I promise!

Alone in the Snow : Mynydd Mawr

Surely one of the prettiest walks from the festive season!  Many thanks, Jude :

Christmas Glow

Meanwhile, Richard is topical (and maybe a bit windswept!) :

There’s more to Boscastle than floods

And Denzil is eating blackberries :

Masbourg : How Green is my Valley

If you had a garden like Pauline’s, you would never mind coming home :

Back Home in the Garden

That’s it for another week!  My walking group will be out today, weather permitting.  First walk together after the New Year, and we’re sticking to footpaths- no boggy fields!  Take care of yourselves!




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