Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Weardale Wander - Carrs Top and Catterick Hill.

It's odd but there are a number of hills in Teesdale and Weardale that I have only ever been on as a result of mountain rescue searches and I have never stood on the top simply for enjoyment - the hills of Carrs Top and Catterick above Bollihope in Weardale being two such places.

It was time to put this right and in spring sunshine I left the car at Bollihope and made my way up towards the first hill, Carrs Top.  There is no official path to the summit of Carrs and it was simply a case of following various sheep and quad bike tracks in the general direction of the summit, stopping every now and again to look at anything that caught my eye. 

View south over Bollihope
It has to be said these moors are pretty barren at first glance but there are a few distractions in the form of collapsed shelters, cairns, old mine workings and bird life such as Golden Plover, Lapwing, Curlew and Skylark which were all seen and heard this morning.  On the lower slopes where the watershed comes together as Bollihope Burn, Ring Ouzel, Dipper and reptiles such as lizard and Adder can also be found.

With the honking of Geese from a pond on the other side of the valley floating over and the air alive with birdsong it really felt as if spring had arrived.  Mind you it felt a bit like this last year and the end of March beginning of April brought two big dumps of snow, so spring could still be cut short.

Carrs Top is only modest hill at 540m but it has long reaching views, which is why it has a trig point.  Its eastern end also has a small cairn with good views across to Catterick Hill, my next objective.

Cairn on Carrs Top with the view east to Catterick Hill in the distance

The view west across Weardale
Leaving the summit it was an easy if rather boggy walk to the road high point, which was crossed at right angles before making my trackless way towards the summit of Catterick (426m).  

Cairn on Catterick Hill with the OS trig point in the distance

Trig on Catterick Hill and the view north over Weardale
Moving west from the summit I made easy progress across trackless heather and after three hundred metres or so cut south towards some old mine working with lots of mineral coated rocks and some nice pieces of Fluorspar.  In fact the whole area has been mined and earlier in the day I even found a massive boulder at least 6 feet square that was completely coated in crystals.  The location of that particular gem is staying a secret for others who enjoy getting off the beaten track to find. 

Crystal rock close up
Making my way steeply down towards Bollihope I came across two holes that had recently opened up due to the heavy rain.   If you do intend walking in this area it is definitely worth keeping this in mind especially when walking in deep heather.

Several holes have opened up including one which drops into the nearby mine level that is not fenced off
Walk Date 3rd March 2014

Just as a postscript to this walk I headed back over this way the next day and noticed that a small hill called Long Man had some good light on it so made the short walk up.

Long Man Cairn
Oddest bit of littering I have ever seen
Rammed rather unceremoniously in the cairn was a plastic cremation Urn.  Needless to say I did not look inside and it may have been empty so perhaps they had already scattered the ashes.  It seems a shame to despoil the place by dumping it on the cairn though. 

Images/text copyright David Forster www.bluestoneimages.com


  1. Hi David
    I have no idea why, but I have only just found your blog. I've seen comments from you dotted around the web, but had just missed you somehow.
    Sorry about that!
    A fine read, Sir.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Alan. I have been reading and enjoying your blog for while after getting interested in the TGO challenge so you are known to me as it were. Cheers David