Every time we visit upper Teesdale we wonder why we don’t go more often. The weekend combination of a bright sunny day coming after some heavy rain made for ideal conditions. The walk from Bowlees Visitor Centre along the river between Low and High Force must be one of the best low-level walks in England with waterfalls and unusual wildlife to be seen.
Despite being mid August there were wonderful shows being put on by plants such as shrubby cinquefoil and greater burnet and the last of this year’s mountain pansies. Shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa) is a relatively rare plant of rocky limestone areas in Britain but is scattered along the banks of the Tees, it’s one of the ‘rarities’ of Teesdale that is very easy to find being right next to the riverside path. A few butterflies were to be seen, most interesting was an albeit rather worn specimen of a small pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria selene) feeding on a patch of black knapweed.
Low Force and High Force were impressive after recent heavy rain and the river was a brown peaty torrent. Around High Force are impressive juniper trees but these are being attacked by a disease that has somehow got in to the area. This Phytophthora (Phytophthora austrocedrae) disease originates from South America but was first found here in Teesdale. Walkers are asked to clean off their boots before leaving to try to reduce the chance of spread but that doesn’t help the trees that are showing signs of die back.