We needed to be at Mainsgill, only a minute or two down the A66 for 10:00 am. After a largely sleepless night and the loss of an hour’s opportunity for sleep due to the change to BST we were quite reluctant to leave our beds but did manage to shower and dress and still be on station before the Family L arrived.
It was our first visit to Mainsgill and we were surprised by the chaos, even having read the criticisms to be found on review sites. It is truly a strange way to run a restaurant (I shall leave it at that.) It is a very busy little business and clearly thriving but we found it less appealing than other similar establishments that we have visited.
After our family breakfast we shopped for provisions for a simple supper to be eaten once we arrived home at Kippford, said goodbye to the Family L and then turned Vincent’s head towards Barnard Castle (which was heaving) and thence onward to the upper dale.
We had an outline plan to go home over the tops via Alston and to call in at Lambley Viaduct on our way to walk the dog. I had concerns that on this brilliantly sunny and unnaturally warm Mothering Sunday the small car park there would be full and Nell would not get her exercise. I suggested that we stop at Bowlees, and give her a run there “just in case.”
The Tees just below Middleton
Well, it turned out that not only Barney but also Middleton-in-Teesdale and the entirety of Upper Teesdale was heaving with people, cars and motorcycles. Bowlees was choked, with no hope of parking Vincent anywhere at all. The High Force Hotel was very busy with bare-armed folks supping beer in the sun.
We drove on to Cow Green Reservoir, which being so vast could never be crowded – though it was busier than I have ever seen it. Not that I have been there recently…
Vincent at Cow Green
There were tears. Of joy, maybe. Just the sheer pleasure of being in this high place in the clean air and listening to Skylarks and Lapwings. Or maybe a pang of something else. I was last here on the 9th of December, in 1978. How can I be so precise about a date so long ago? Well, I delivered my beautiful boy about 14 hours after a family walk around the reservoir that day. That kind of thing tends to stick. Unlike the family.
I managed to take a lot of very poor photographs at Cow Green. A bit of forward planning might have been useful, along with a wide angle lens, a tripod and a polarising filter.
We had a wonderful walk, though not a long one as we had quite some driving left to do.
We had one more stop at Carlisle in order to pick up Leffe for supper and a coffee to boost our reserves – arriving back at Kippford just after 5pm, with the sun still shining.
Unfortunately all that sun has brought out my skin sensitivity and I am suffering the usual painful itch. I also woke with a terrible headache from the excess of sun… I seem to have posted our sun hats home!
A false Spring it may have been but we did have the most wonderful weekend in the early season sun, driving through some of the best scenery that England has to offer.