Friday, 16 April 2010
A Grand Day Out
Kath and I left Lancashire behind this week and travelled through Cumbria over the North Pennines to Upper Teesdale. It was a number of years since I had been this way and it was nice to return to this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The weather forecast for the Pennine Areas was cool and cloudy, quite a contrast to the warm and sunny weather we left behind as we travelled over the Pennines above Brough. We had stopped for a morning coffee in Kirkby Stephen, a lovely little market town but we hadn't time to explore as we pressed on over the moors into the County of Durham.
Dropping down towards Middleton in Teesdale I stopped to photograph a red grouse which was posing for me on a roadside wall. One of my main reasons for visiting Teesdale was hopefully to see the black grouse, a bird I had never seen but maybe today was the day. Before we did any birdwatching we visited England's highest waterfall, High Force, on the river Tees. A very impressive and dramatic location. We enjoyed wonderful views of the waterfall and surroundings from both below and above the waterfall which was well worth the £1 we had to pay towards the maintenance of the footpaths and facilities adjoining and leading to the waterfall.
It was then time to drive the moorland roads to look for the elusive and very scarce black grouse. The black grouse is on the increase in the area and the well known area around Langdon Beck was my first stop on the moorland drive. Very soon after turning onto the minor moorland road to St John's Chapel I spotted a black grouse feeding in the valley below the road. I saw four males in total and although they were distant probably about 400yds away, I did manage to get one or two decent record images of this my very first sighting of black grouse. I was thilled to have seen the grouse and then we climbed up Langdon Common and again I was lucky with a sighting of a golden plover at the summit of the moorland road. The weather on the tops was very cool and cloudy but was improving and there were still drifts of snow at the roadside in this very bleak and exposed part of Durham
We drove around some other likely looking areas but had no further sightings of black grouse only red grouse which were close to the road and one female posed nicely for me as we stopped to take her picture. We returned to Middleton in Teesdale for a warming drink and later in Kirkby Stephen we had a welcome meal prior to the journey back home to Lancashire. It had been an excellent day out and we had both enjoyed the splendid scenery in this very special part of the Pennines. I hope to return soon and hopefully get a little closer to some black grouse but in the meantime I hope my readers enjoy the images I have posted of our grand day out.