A visit to Iron Band, the highest point of the moors above North Stainmore, and based on the map at least one of the boggiest places in the North Pennines.
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The sheer quantity of blue lines and symbols on the OS map along with the lack of any paths to the top is probably enough to put most people off visiting Iron Band, not that too many people have even heard of it.
Personally I found all that blue a challenge and rather perversely I wanted to see if it really was as bad underfoot as it looked on the map. Having said that I didn’t plan on going there on a day after heavy rain with the forecast of more to come, that was just the way it turned out.
“While exploring Dow Crag the cloud briefly lifted to give sweeping views towards Teesdale and the vast area of moorland east of Iron Band.”
Starting from the Cumbria / Co. Durham border on the B6276 between Brough and Middleton-in-Teesdale I’d initially planned to start with a long road walk to Borrowdale House above North Stainmore before heading on to the moors via the bridleway to Slate Moss. However, as the weather wasn’t too bad (relatively speaking) when I arrived I decided to reverse the route and make straight for the top. This was done by a fairly easy climb initially along the boundary fence before skirting round a boggy stretch to reach West Dow Crag which sported some fairly decent sized boulders.
As sometimes happens my arrival at the summit coincided with a drop in the cloud level. I walked about in the fog for a while to ensure I’d visited the highest spot (unmarked) before a fruitless search for a rare type of trig point known as a ‘curry stool’ which can apparently be found about 800ft south west of the ‘summit’.
While exploring Dow Crag the cloud briefly lifted to give sweeping views towards Teesdale and the vast area of moorland east of Iron Band which serves as the catchment area for the River Lune and Selset Reservoir. From the boundary stone south east of the summit I took a bearing south and headed across the open moor in search of the bridleway that terminates in the region marked as Slate Quarry Moss. Given the name I perhaps shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was to come across substantial mine workings.
Up to this point I’d not had too many problems negotiating the many bogs and water channels but the next stage from the mine workings to safety of the wall just over a quarter of a mile away was through a bright green morass. I slightly misjudged my leap over one particular section which nearly resulted in me losing my right boot. It was only by very gently pulling my leg free that I was able to extricate myself from the bog’s oozy grip.
Having reached the gate in the wall I was able to enjoy firm ground underfoot for the rest of the walk, firstly along the bridleway passing near some pleasant waterfalls before taking the minor road from Borrowdale House back to the B6276 from where I followed the road back to the car.
The weather had hardly been great but as I had set out expecting it to be thoroughly awful I actually felt rather lucky. While I felt disappointed at not finding the curry stool I still enjoyed the walk and maybe one day when I’ve bagged all the North Pennine tops on my list I’d be tempted to do it again.
This walk was first published on my MyPennines website.