West Briscoe - Balderhead and Hury Reservoirs - West Briscoe

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West Briscoe - Balderhead, Blackton and Hury Reservoirs - West Briscoe

Baldersdale is a gem of a dale lying west of Teesdale in the fooothills of the Pennines. The pastoral dale is named after the River Balder that feeds its three picturesque reservoirs. The reservoirs in order going upstream are: Hury, the first to be built in 1894, followed by Blackton, built in 1896, the shallowest of the three and finally the imposing Balderhead, constructed in 1965 and holding an impressive 3,300 million gallons of water. These three reservoirs along with Selset and Grassholme located in the parallel (and equally delightful) Lunedale, together with the mighty Cow Green Reservoir, ensures a minimum flow of water in the River Tees all year round to keep the large water treatment works at Lartington operating to full capacity. The water treatment works requires a thirsty 32 million gallons each day.

The walk starts from the car park in West Briscoe at the dam end of Hury Reservoir. Pleasant and mainly fairly flat, grassy field-walking takes up the first couple of miles before the path very gently descends to cross the bridge over the River Balder at the head of Blackton Reservoir. The bridge is the halfway point of the famous 270-mile Pennine Way long-distance walk and is also the halfway point of this rather shorter walk.

Soon after, the route intersects Low Birk Hat Farm, the former home of TV celebrity Hannah Hauxwell. After the death of her parents Hannah single-handedly worked the remote farm without any of the modern-day necessities like electricity and running water. Even the land remained free from modern-day farming practices such as the use of artificial fertilisers, the reason why today the hay meadows just behind the farmhouse have been purchased by Durham Wildlife Trust and designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest to ensure that this unique pesticide-free management of the land continues for future generations to enjoy.

From Low Birk Hat the walk follows the entire north shore of Blackton Reservoir along the strip of land between the reservoir and the high stone wall with the unusual castellated coping-stones, a style of wall building in these parts known as 'buck and doe'. At the end of Blackton Reservoir the route crosses the dam and provides a good viewing point along the full length of Hury Reservoir. A flat walk on a stony and then surfaced road back along the southern shore of Hury completes this enjoyable walk.

England - North England - Durham - Teesdale

Features

Birds, Butterflies, Flowers, Lake/Loch, Moor, Mostly Flat, Nature Trail
18/09/2011 - John Megoran

Hi I recently, 16.9.2011, completed the walk with my wife, we both enjoyed the walk, but would point out that the first section was very wet in places,up to West Friar House, this mainly due to the track not being well trodden and the grass quite long and only intermittent way signs. Also several of the stiles in the walls had had the top section filled in, they were still passable but it increased the difficulty of the transition. At West Friar House the actual signed route has been blocked with large black bales requiring a diversion, not long but muddy.

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19.9 Miles