Thursday,    10th June.      11.5 miles.

As usual, I don’t get away as early as I had planned, there is rain forecast for after lunch. Allendale is quiet, the school bus has taken the local children off somewhere else.

At the bottom of the hill I rejoin the East Allen River next to an old corn mill, but soon I’m on paths through the meadows. Remote farm houses appear out of nowhere. One little cottage has no road to it, they have to walk down to the footbridge over the East Allen and up to the main road, the lady said she had just done her school ‘run’, what a place to find for a Bohemian lifestyle. They keep horses too. Eventually I reach that footbridge over the river at Peckriding Crags, a popular Victorian picnic spot.

The house with no road.

The morning drifts by as I follow carefully the waymarks through complicated fields, sometimes close to the river and others diverted away from it. There are rabbits and sheep everywhere.

I drop down to the river at Studdon Bridge where there is a shaft going down to the Blackett Level 25 m below. More isolated farms are passed. A farmer from one tells me of a successful scheme to introduce children to agricultural and environmental projects. At Rowantree Stob a bastle has been conserved and one is able to wander around it.


Rowantree Stob Bastle.

Spot the Curlew.

Slowly I start climbing out of the valley and meet The Black Way, at first a rough estate road but becoming a vague path through the heather. This route would have been busy in the mining days with ponies taking their loads of ore to the smelt mills. The weather is changing with a cold wind bringing in light showers and obscuring the views. I shelter in the lee of a peat hag for a bite to eat before carrying on over higher ground. It would be easy to go astray up here. Over to the southeast is Killhope Law in County Durham, I’m hovering between Northumberland and Cumbria. As I lose height, the enclosures and ruins of Coalcleugh come into sight – once a thriving village with chapel, library and pub. Not much remains, and today it feels a rather bleak place to be.

That provocative estate sign again.

KIllhope Law, been there …  done that.


The last climb over the moors takes me to the highest point of the Tea Trail, 585m, on the county boundary. I don’t linger but press on down towards Nenthead where the moors are full of the evidence of the past – spoil heaps, hushes and ruined buildings.


The border.

‘Old Peter’ clock face from the tower on Nenthead market house until the early 1900s.


Bainbridge Memorial Water Pump. 1841.

The bike repair man is still busy but The Miners Arms  no longer serves refreshments and the museum is closed, so there is nothing to keep me in Nenthead. My car is the only one in the carpark, thankfully it still has four wheels.



Isaac’s Tea trail has proved to be a classic little long distance way, all 38 miles of it. This is beautiful English countryside with a wonderful heritage. The villages are largely unspoilt and seem to retain a good sense of community often lost in today’s society. Accommodation and shops are plentiful. I’ve enjoyed the wildlife, even though I didn’t encounter any red squirrels, and learnt something of the lead mining industry which shaped the area. The ancient paths are clear but not heavily used, so are a joy to explore. I would highly recommend this as a short backpacking trip for the casual walker looking for exercise and interest.   Where to next in this ‘staycation’ year?



  1. Anne Leuchars

    I’m so glad you enjoyed Isaac’s Tea Trail. I’ve been walking sections of it for years for my blog ( and I never tire of it. Loved your account of each day, and great photos too.

  2. Pingback: ISAAC’S TEA TRAIL. | bowlandclimber

      1. shazza

        It’s such a Wierd time. Last weekend if we hadn’t gone away we would have gone to a friend’s BBQ in Clitheroe, they and their guests are all now self isolating , as one of the guests tested positive. I am in constant wonderment that I haven’t yet caught corvid as I work in a school. I do take a test three times a week. I have decided to just try and live my life now. Second vaccine imminent. Hope your ok.

        1. bowlandclimber Post author

          Yes I’ve had two vaccinations so should be as OK as possible – but it is worrying about all these new varieties which will eventually escape the vaccination program and then we are all back at square one. Live your life as best as possible,

  3. Michael Graeme

    Enjoyed following you round this trail. A quiet and little known part of the country, and long may it remain so. Glad your car still had four wheels when you got back, but it sounds like the sort of place you could have left it unlocked with your wallet on the dashboard for months, and all would be well.

  4. rogerdavidmorris

    Anne Leuchars forwarded me your great blog and I looked forward to each day’s account. This will be helpful to others contemplating the trai. Also good to see you began and finished at Nenthead. On hand there’s Dave Raeside at North Pennine Cycles, a human sign post to advise.

    1. bowlandclimber Post author

      Thanks indeed Roger. Your guidebook was invaluable, and you have put so much effort into researching and promoting the area.
      I really enjoyed walking the trail and writing about it afterwards, hope I didn’t say anything too derogatory.
      Nenthead seemed a logical place to start, leaving the climax coming over from Allendale to the last day.
      The bicycle repair man had an honourable mention.
      Thanks once again for the inspiration to walk your ways.
      Regards John.

  5. George Kitching

    I think Nenthead is where Millican Dalton was born and lived until he was seven. His father worked for the lead mining company but died young, and the family moved south, only for Millican to return to Cumbria as an adult and self-styled professor of adventure and inhabit his cave in Borrowdale.

    It’s been fascinating to read your account of Isaac and follow in his footsteps along the North Pennines. I share your abhorrence of the pheasant shooting industry but the villages and landscape look lovely. I’d really like to walk this route one day. Thank you for sharing.

    1. bowlandclimber Post author

      I had always assumed Millican was born and bred Cumbrian. I always enjoyed showing my children and then grandchildren his cave and telling them some of his stories.
      Northumberland was a breath of fresh air after all our restrictions, certainly a place to visit when the Lakes are busy.

      1. George

        The cave is lovely isn’t it.

        I lived in Newcastle for thirteen years, but I didn’t do a lot of walking back then so I have a lot of catching up to do with regard to Northumberland. I have loved what I have done.


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