River Tees

Six word Saturday

A turn of the Archimedes Screw

Sometimes everyday moments can be extraordinary.  Patti shared some beautiful sights from Vancouver.  I’m pushing my luck a bit but I should just make the deadline.  Are you following the Lens Artists?  And surely you can find Six Words for Debbie!  She’s climbed all those stairs.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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!



Gracious living, Victorian style

Your genial host, Robert Ropner

Your genial host, Robert Ropner

It’s always nice to be made welcome and Preston Park Museum  does this with real warmth and imagination.  There’s even a welcoming speech, delivered by our host, glass in hand.

Built in 1825, Preston Hall was purchased by wealthy shipping magnate Robert Ropner in 1882. Major alterations added a grand entrance porch and Winter Garden, ballroom and billiards room, the whole enclosed in beautifully landscaped gardens, befitting his social status.  Ropner served as Conservative MP for Stockton from 1900-1910.  Life was exceedingly grand and a fleet of servants kept the household running smoothly.

Ropner died, aged 85, in 1924 and the hall and park were subsequently purchased by Stockton Council.  Preston Hall Museum opened its doors to the public in 1953.  As a small girl I can remember being taken there.  The house itself was a warren of rooms, stuffed full of Victorian furniture, and with the addition of a Victorian street.

The museum was beginning to look a little tired when Stockton Council acquired funding for a massive renovation.  In 2012 there was a grand reopening.  I wasn’t at all sure what I would find.


But I found myself immensely impressed.  The house was light and bright, with beautifully showcased and hugely varied exhibits.  Here are just a few of my favourites.

Fabulous pottery

Fabulous pottery

Beautiful glassware

Beautiful glassware

Exquisite fabrics and jewellery

Exquisite fabrics and jewellery

Exotic sword guards

Exotic sword guards

Delicate cameos

Delicate cameos

Remember the snuff box? Here's another!

Remember the snuff box from Six word Saturday? Here’s another!

Touches of humour illuminate the commentary as you walk through the house, nor are they the only source of illumination.

This stained glass is from a former Methodist church in Stockton

This stained glass is from a former Methodist church in Stockton

There is so much that I could share, but I don’t want to spoil it for you, in case you ever go there. It’s like a Pandora’s Box of Victoriana, with each room a new delight as you wind up through the house.  There’s a nod to shipping, on which Ropner built his fortune.  A local cabinet maker’s craft is showcased.  Even some worn but lovely Victorian scrapbooks are there.  I’d quite forgotten the art!

Naturally our railway heritage is celebrated.  This is the home of steam, and a famous journey took place locally on 27th September, 1825.


Overall I felt really proud of our accomplishments here in the north east of England.  Afterwards I took myself for a stroll in the grounds and down to the River Tees.

I loved the reflections in the water and that hint of blue sky

I loved the reflections in the water and that hint of blue sky

The aviary used to be full of birds, now mysteriously flown!

The aviary used to be full of birds, all mysteriously flown!
I watched a remote control aeroplane for a while- can you spot it?

Then I watched a remote control aeroplane for a while- can you spot it?

This post is a follow up to my Six word Saturday and I’m afraid the subject isn’t quite closed yet. The Victorian Street will have to be a subject for another day.  Then there’s the Butterfly House, which doesn’t open until March.  You will come back, won’t you?

I almost forgot to say that admission to the museum costs just £2 (£1 if you’re a concession!) and includes return visits for a full year.  How about that for value?

Six word Saturday


Classic example of getting it wrong!

The river bank at Yarm, North Yorkshire

The river bank at Yarm, North Yorkshire

A sultry Summer’s day seemed like an excellent time for a stroll by the River Tees, in search of a tempering breeze.  Yes, this is north east England I’m talking about.  Don’t fall out of your seat in surprise!  It happens.

We headed for Preston Park, knowing that we had access to the river there, and should be able to walk along the banks as far as the village of Yarm.  You’ll note that I said “should”.  It being an impromptu little outing, neither of us had consulted a map.

The park itself was heaving with picnics and families having a good time, so it was a relief to drop down onto the riverbank.  It felt wonderfully idyllic as we ambled through shoulder-high wild flowers, extravagant in their pink frocks.  The sunshine bounced and shimmered on the water.  All was right with the Bradley world.

Innocently following signs for The Cleveland Way, suddenly we found ourselves in the midst of a housing development.  The river was there somewhere, but we couldn’t find it!  Nothing to do but keep following our noses (and the signs) in the direction of Yarm.  It was a long walk beside a busy road!  I wished I’d had my bus pass with me.

Undeterred, but hot, we reached Yarm, and with relief descended again to the riverbank, alongside of the superbly positioned pub “The Blue Bells”.  Why it did not occur to us to seek refreshment at this point, I do not know, but good spirits were restored anyway.  Yarm is a pretty place, and peaceful, viewed from the opposite bank of the river.  Swans mingled with ducks and the bridge was in harmony too.

Again we were swathed in wild flowers, mainly whites this time, and meadows opened out behind us.  I was amazed at the form and variety of some of the plants, which seemed to have grown to a mighty height.  The sun beat hotly down as we followed the meandering riverbank.  Beautiful though it was, I was starting to wonder how much further, when catastrophe befell.

We had arrived at Eaglescliffe Golf Course, with its privileged riverside location, and there was no access beyond that point.  If it hadn’t been for substantial hedges I would have been a willing trespasser.  Irritatingly we could hear the golfers calling to each other, yon side of the hedge, but we had to head wearily inland to complete our walk.

We never regained the riverbank, but collapsed into “The Sportsman” for a reviving Guinness, then limped back to the car.  Fortunately the rest of the week’s walking was better planned.   Another lesson learned (till next time!)

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Hope you enjoyed our very English walk this week.  Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to take your map with you!   Do make time for Six word Saturday, with  Cate at Show My Face.


Six word Saturday

Our English Heritage – walk with me?

Well, the young uns are back at school and, as often happens, we’re enjoying a last glimpse of Summer.  Whoo- hoo!  Share with me a balmy day in Barnard Castle, Teesdale. 

A first peak at the River Tees, sparkling in the sunlight

And cascading over the rocks

I love the power of the water as it slaloms down the river

Around the bend and a hint of castle appears

And then the bridge

Isn’t this how a ruined castle should look?

While the river flows respectfully by

Over the bridge

My favourite shot

Stay close to the river and cross over another bridge

A strange one this, but you can sit in the middle and contemplate

Time to wander back up the High St

Maybe a little window shopping?

Choose between ancient pub and “ye olde tea shoppe”

Who are these little characters?

Back to the bandstand and turn right, signed Bowes

And a chateau awaits, now Bowes Museum

But who is the gargoyle waiting for?

The view from the terraces

The griffin’s spotted something

Much to our surprise, a Bengali wedding is taking place

Heritage of every kind.  Hope you enjoyed our little stroll?  It was too warm to hurry.

Still sunny today and I’m off to walk across the park to my zumba class.  That’ll tire me out for the weekend!  Have a good one, won’t you?

Many thanks to Cath of Show My Face, our lovely lady hostess.  Click on the link or the banner to see full details, and you can follow my activities on the button below.

Six word Saturday

These boots are made for walking!

Saltwick Nab from the cliff top

Looking back at Whitby harbour

As usual, my week included its fair share of walking.  It’s been muggy, stormy and grey much of the week but, undeterred, the boots have come out.

A little closer to the Nab

On around the bay

Whitby is a little tacky, like many a tourist town, but it has an endearing quality, and is everybody’s choice of the place to go for fish and chips.

The catch has gone- straight to “the chippy”!

Harbour trips, just £2.50 a go!

You can take a Vintage Steam Bus tour, or sample some of the quirky shops.

Whitby ducks- one of my earliest memories!

Love a bit of fudge.

All kinds of “glam” at The Shepherd’s Purse

Yes, please!

You can’t leave without buying some Whitby Jet!

A look back at the Abbey, and it’s time to go.

Now you might think the boots would be tired, but my Thursday Nordic walking group think differently.  By complete contrast, we’re off to the Tees Barrage next.

The Barrage dams the River Tees, and there’s often a playful seal in the water, looking for company. This morning, the White Water facility is in use by the lads from the fire brigade, doing their fitness training.  After a pause to admire, we follow the river bank to the Infinity Bridge.  There are foot and cycle tracks on both sides of the river, and damp runners and cyclists pass us by. (just a bit more rain)

Isn’t this bridge just magical?

End on a high- my favourite shot!

Time to hang up my boots for another week.  Come out with me next time?  I’m sure Cate, of Show My Face, will be my generous hostess again on Six Word Saturday.  Follow the links to join in, or view my previous posts on the button.

Torture in Teesdale

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I loathed and detested our walk leader as he dragged us ever further up the soggy uneven hill, determined to find the summit. Glad I stayed with him though, as what followed was memorable- views over little known Lunedale and Grassholme Reservoir. The legs were seriously tired as we trekked back to the car alongside the gurgling energised River Tees.