Pennine Way day 8 – Tan Hill to Middleton in Teesdale

I read somewhere once that in the UK you are never more than 7 miles from a road. Walking across Bowes Moor from the Tan Hill Inn it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere.

6 bowes moor

Day 8 – Tan Hill to Middleton in Teesdale – 16.1 miles/ 25.8 km

After leaving what must be the most deluxe wild camp I’ve ever had (I must save up for a motorhome!) and heading out across the moorland there is not a soul in sight after only 40 minutes of walking. It doesn’t take long before you feel like you’ve left civilisation completely. Its 9am, as I reach the middle of the moor, already over 20 degrees C and I’m starting to feel like I’m walking in the desert.

Walking across the bogs, even in the dry conditions, reminds me of the Bog of Eternal stench from Labyrinth as it squelches underfoot. I can only imagine how mucky and tiresome this would be in wet conditions. The path would also be much more difficult to navigate as there is only wooden stakes to mark the way.

The route is downhill, technically according to the map. But instead it is about 4 miles of desolately flat moorland. I reach a boardwalk and a sign saying the path has been diverted to the other side of the river. Sorry Durham Council, the path is clearer on the left so I’m sticking with that. The trudge in the heat is enough, I don’t need to be wading through heather too. Today is about putting one foot in front of the other and avoiding sunburn and looking forward to a cold shower at the end. So I take the well worn footpath to the left of the river.

Somewhere in the middle there is a large cairn. 

11 cairn

13 bridge over river

Its a relief to see Sleightholme Farm if only for the promise of shade.

17 sleightholme farm

As I cross Sleightholme moor I eventually reach the point where the Pennine Way splits in two and heads straight across the moor, or on the Bowes Loop.

24 path junction

When walking this route its clear that the Pennine Way wasn’t really designed as a simple south to north route, as it winds east and west for most of its way. I am more of a straight line/ quickest way possible type of person, so the thought of adding to the day just to visit Bowes seemed unnecessary. I can see the benefit had i been walking from Keld instead of the Tan Hill as Bowes would provide a useful stop over that a direct walk to the A66 just won’t provide.

As I trudge over yet more moorland, I reach the conclusion that Bowes would have been nice to visit just to have something to look at. Trudging over the moors for the best part of 4 hours without a view of anything is a bit soul destroying, especially in the heat (did I say I was melting in the sun yet?).

28 A66 path

Cross the A66 under the subway. I like this addition to the sign as you pass under the road:

29 sign

“Congratulations on completing half of the Pennine way, good luck with the rest. Suckers”. I’m not sure if the A66 is the half way point as the Tan Hill also claims to hold this honour, but it make me laugh nonetheless.

33 moorland

More moorland as you walk away from the A66 to Balderhead reservoir, it certainly makes the sight of a water feature a joyous one. So much so I had to dip my toes in!

46 bridge

Once refuelled with lunch and cool feet I could finally appreciate the wildflower meadows that follow as I headed on to Grassholme.

40 down to Blackton Res
53 bridge over grassholme res

And then I reached Middleton in Teesdale after 7 hours and 10 minutes, where there is Conduit cafe, a lovely spot for a cold drink!

69 middleton in Teesdale

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