High Force

It has been a very special day.  When we turned over the calendar we realised that, surprisingly, we have an empty week and the weather forecast is very good for February, so it seemed right to plan some outings.  Coupled with this came the Blip Community challenge of ‘Water’.  I suggested to Tony that we might revisit a special place from our student days in the seventies, High Force Waterfall in Teesdale. 
Tony had taken part in an archaeological dig with his History lecturer Denis Coggins who was a bit of an expert in his field and, at the time, owned the High Force Hotel above the waterfall.  The students were put up in a bunkhouse/barn at the back of the hotel and spent their holiday time looking for Bronze Age remains on the hillside above.  We had not been a couple for very long when we first visited the spot and so it holds a bit of a romantic attachment for us.  Added to this (I advise our daughters to stop reading now, embarrassment alert!) I was an English student and big in to expressing myself in poetry.   One of our visits was on Formal Day, the annual ‘posh’ dinner dance at our teacher training college and, not really being in to all that stuff, we drove north to walk to the waterfall.  I wrote the following to mark the day:

High Force, Formal Day ‘77
Away from the fancies and fripperies of the looming occasion,
We chose the beauty and solitude of the country.
‘Do my shoes clash with this dress…?’
Our feet touched on the winding pebbly path, descending through the trees.
‘What’s the weather like outside…?’
Our first view of the Falls stopped my words in my throat and brought a gasp from yours.
‘Turn on the shower will you…..’
White water crashed, with a deafening roar, from the heights into the murky brown below.
‘I’ll never be ready in time…’
The minutes came to a halt in this magical place.
I sat in awe at the very edge where the trapped water swirled madly
     before plunging feet upon feet to reform and continue away down the valley.
The animal within it began life in some distant, peaceful valley.
It grew steadily, feeling its watery legs amongst the rolling hills
     And rocky streams, strengthened by thaw and rainstorm.
Gathering at the top of the Falls, crested with white and angrily bubbling through the channels of rock,
I watched, hypnotised, as it drew me with it on its suicide leap into the depths.
Would I have gone if you had not taken my hand?
Would my place be at the bottom of the waterfall if you had not come in to my life?
Now we start again, back in those rolling hills, two new streams running parallel to the sea.

It’s ironic that today we could not repeat our walk on the rocks at the top of the Falls because they have been closed for Health and Safety reasons.

After spending some time in different spots, blipping the Falls, we retraced our steps to the Hotel for lunch, something we would never have been able to afford to do as students!  The welcome and the food did not disappoint.
Tony supplies the geology of High Force.  Along the valley side in Teesdale runs a Whin Sill and, at this point the River Tees plunges 21 metres over the sill.  A gorge is formed because of the water under cutting the stone beneath.
On the drive back to Scotch Corner we stopped off to explore the ruins of Egglestone Abbey so all in all a very lovely day.

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