Friday, 18 April 2014

Good Friday today
It has been a perfect spring day here in County Durham.  A day for driving through Weardale with its awe-inspiring scenery of hills and rivers; fields divided by stone walls and sturdy cottages that have withstood the extremes of winter and summer for generations.  The trees are beginning to show their foliage in a variety of greens; blackthorn bushes are a mass of white blossom; daffodils and celandines light up the verges and even dandelions add to the show while new-born lambs frolick round their tired mothers.

When people talk of the north of England it is often Yorkshire and Northumberland they’re thinking of, forgetting that Durham comes between the two.  If they do mention Durham it is probably only the city they know with its cathedral high above the other buildings or perhaps Auckland Castle, home to the Bishops of Durham in the small town of Bishop Auckland.
However, venture beyond the towns and out on the country roads and you will discover Teesdale and Weardale, each very beautiful, following the county’s main rivers. 

Today we chose Weardale, through the village of Witton-le-Wear and on to Wolsingham and Stanhope, the main “towns of the dale” then on again through the villages of Eastgate and Westgate, popular for caravanners; Daddry Shield where hills rise steeply from the road; and on to St. John’s Chapel to leave the car and walk along a narrow path by the river then to stand on a wooden footbridge and look down on the brown water spanned by substantial stepping stones and a ford that cyclists and cars were splashing through. 
As we retraced our steps we passed a very well-kept primary school and more cottages until we reached the church and the centre of the village. Opposite was a most welcome café – Chatterbox Café – run by a friendly young couple and serving delicious scones with jam as well as mouth watering meals.  I can definitely recommend the café and the whole trip. 

The sun continued to shine as we drove the 26 miles back home. Only one regret - I'd gone without my camera!