Pontop Pike, September 4th 2016

If you’re talking landmarks and you’re talking County #Durham into the bargain, things don’t come more iconic than Pontop Pike aerial mast. It can be seen for miles around and at some point in the olden days you will have pointed your TV aerial at it so you could watch the TV. That was in the days before cable and satellite.

This walk started out in the nearby town of Annfield Plain; a sleepy ex-mining town that is even sleepier on a Sunday morning. It was a bit grey and drizzly and a bit wet underfoot but good to get out nonetheless.

Walking through the sleepy town, the first part of the walk was undeniably urban yet there was plenty to see; no doubt Annfield Plain had a fairly prosperous history judging by some of the sturdy stone dwellings dotted about. We soon struck out cross-country though – well, past some allotments anyway. Climbing slowly, we passed through new plantations of mixed woodland still looking green and summery at this point in September. The deep grassy walk was a bit muddy but still easily accomplished and we soon came upon open pasture.

Ahead of us loomed the mighty aerial, the central theme of this walk, thrusting confidently into the grey sky and tied to planet earth by a series of stout stabilising wires. There’s a lonely farmhouse at its base, painted a jolly blue colour, that has fabulous views across Country Durham and up to Northumberland. It still looks occupied and I bet the occupants have unrivaled TV and mobile phone coverage.

As well as the main mast, there are a series of smaller transmitter type towers and buildings clustered on the top of the hill making the whole place reminiscent of a 1970s Dr Who episode. I half expected Tom Baker to appear but he didn’t.

We descended to wet, undulating fields and had lunch overlooked by a herd of slightly ominous looking cows.

The weather perked up a bit and feeble sunshine broke through the clouds making the second half of the walk more pleasant. This mostly took us through footpaths that had evolved from old rail and wagon ways of the 18th and 19th centuries. As I have mentioned in previous posts, these make for great walking and invariably have interesting flora along their banks. They are also easy going and we made good time back to our cars at Annfield Plain.

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