North Pennine Walks
Date: 5th February 2011
Distance: 8.3 miles
Ascent: 1059 feet
Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: NY831199
A visit to Iron Band, the highest point of the moors above North Stainmore, and based on the map at least one of the boggiest places in the North Pennines.
Route Summary: County boundary on the B6276 - Iron Band - Dow Crag - Slate Quarry Moss - Crook Beck - Borrowdale Beck - Windmore Green - Deadman Gill Bridge - County boundary on the B6276
1. The County Durham side of the county boundary on the B6276
2. Looking across the moors towards Standards
3. One of a number of small numbered boundary stones that I passed
4. West Dow Crag
5. On Iron Band looking along West Dow Crag
6. On one of the outcrops of Dow Crag
7. Selset Reservoir and the moors east of Iron Band
8. A ruined building on Slate Quarry Moss
9. Remains of mine workings on Slate Quarry Moss
10. A particularly wet looking bog
11. A waterfall on Crook Beck
12. The bridleway leading off the moors towards North Stainmore
13. Moudy Mea
14. The impressive waterfall just off the path below Spur Rigg
Walk Detail: The sheer quantity of blue lines and symbols on the OS map along with the lack of any paths to the top is probably enough to put most people off visiting Iron Band, not that too many people have even heard of it.
Personally I found all that blue a challenge and rather perversely I wanted to see if it really was as bad underfoot as it looked on the map. Having said that I didn't plan on going there on a day after heavy rain with the forecast of more to come, that was just the way it turned out.
Starting from the Cumbria / Co. Durham border on the B6276 between Brough and Middleton-in-Teesdale I'd initially planned to start with a long road walk to Borrowdale House above North Stainmore before heading on to the moors via the bridleway to Slate Moss. However, as the weather wasn't too bad (relatively speaking) when I arrived I decided to reverse the route and make straight for the top. This was done by a fairly easy climb initially along the boundary fence before skirting round a boggy stretch to reach West Dow Crag which sported some fairly decent sized boulders.
As sometimes happens my arrival at the summit coincided with a drop in the cloud level. I walked about in the fog for a while to ensure I'd visited the highest spot (unmarked) before a fruitless search for a rare type of trig point known as a 'curry stool' which can apparently be found about 800ft south west of the 'summit'.
While exploring Dow Crag the cloud briefly lifted to give sweeping views towards Teesdale and the vast area of moorland east of Iron Band which serves as the catchment area for the River Lune and Selset Reservoir. From the boundary stone south east of the summit I took a bearing south and headed across the open moor in search of the bridleway that terminates in the region marked as Slate Quarry Moss. Given the name I perhaps shouldn't have been as surprised as I was to come across substantial mine workings.
Up to this point I'd not had too many problems negotiating the many bogs and water channels but the next stage from the mine workings to safety of the wall just over a quarter of a mile away was through a bright green morass. I slightly misjudged my leap over one particular section which nearly resulted in me losing my right boot. It was only by very gently pulling my leg free that I was able to extricate myself from the bog's oozy grip.
Having reached the gate in the wall I was able to enjoy firm ground underfoot for the rest of the walk, firstly along the bridleway passing near some pleasant waterfalls before taking the minor road from Borrowdale House back to the B6276 from where I followed the road back to the car.
The weather had hardly been great but as I had set out expecting it to be thoroughly awful I actually felt rather lucky. While I felt disappointed at not finding the curry stool I still enjoyed the walk and maybe one day when I've bagged all the North Pennine tops on my list I'd be tempted to do it again.