Well, had a decent night sleep and it looked sunny. We rose slowly, had a cuppa and a chocolate biscuit(s) before getting ready. Then breakfast of croissants and jam and finally a plan. We would walk to Barnard Castle itself and check out the town centre.
The weather forecast said it would be 14 degrees so jumpers and a coat were adorned as we set off down the track we came up yesterday. As we walked down, we got shelter from the cooling winds and then sun came out and we were soon shedding clothing. We followed the distinct footpath signs provided by the equestrian centre, scooting around the edge of it and following a grassy path between two horse fields before plunging into the woodland. Here we discovered an information board declaring it to be a nature reserve. We followed the path, checking on the app when paths forked in various directions and dropped down to the stream and across a bridge. The path continued along, the woodland thick with trees in full leaf. Distance squeals of children and yapping dogs broke the silence – it was just enchanting.
Finally we were burped out onto a main road which we scuttled across to some steps and a bridge spanning the River Tees. A covered pipeline went down the middle and at the end were two Victorian turrets on either side. It was obviously the remnants of a stone bridge, now replaced by a sturdy metal structure which had been there itself for sometime with rust and many layers of paint. The river was reasonably wide and majestic, lined with the woodland. We branched right and headed to the Castle and town centre, stopping briefly at an ornate seating area declaring a Roman road and past industry. We carried on past the vast ugly utilitarian concrete weir and towards the Castle. We were soon on the grassy apron in front of the castle with good views. It’s owned by English Heritage and had an entrance fee. We erred on that and just poked our noses through the entrance. It’s now a ruin but still very impressive. We headed towards the High Street a few yards away and wandered around the shops.
We walked down one side and then the other. It’s in a L shape. We peered in shops as it started to feel quite warm and we started to regret the jumpers. There were lots of independent shops and the main drag was quite handsome with the odd national chain burdening Barnard with their ugly corporate signage. There should be a law that shop signage should be fit into their surroundings and not cause offence. One particular shop was particularly garish and really needed a stick of dynamite, but overall it was quite charming. Of course, the traffic was appalling and cars parked everywhere, but we wandered around happily. We stopped at a lovely cafe and sat outside to people watch and Daughter could watch a bride getting married in the church opposite. We decided to get some tea and hunted down a little deli just on the edge of the High Street. A brief visit to a supermarket (urgh) to get the last bits and then we decided to head home.
We found another route home and headed down a side road lined with stone terrace houses which led to the cricket ground. On the far side was a grand house with floor to ceiling windows and we remarked how many times a stray cricket ball came close to smashing one of those! We walked up a path to this house which had long range views across the cricket ground, the town and the distance hills beyond. We watched the cricket match for a little while, even toying with the idea of going back down and having a drink in the pavilion, but we changed our minds walking briefly through suburbia before plunging back into the woodland. I was beginning to really love Barnard just for its endless woods! It was just gorgeous. We followed well defined paths under a canopy of leaves meeting the odd person. It was so quiet to such an extent that we looked down a side path and saw a beautiful deer staring back at us in as much surprise as we were. Daughter scrabbled for her phone camera, but he was publicity shy and disappeared into the undergrowth before she was ready. But it was lovely to see the deer properly and not just his white backside.
We carried on, finally popping out by the main road again and crossing over. We retraced our steps through the woods, bobbing back by the horse fields. We found a shortcut to the campsite – peeling off the track to a stile which dropped us at the back of the campsite so we had a good chance to check out our fellow campers. The wind had got up and it was feeling cool again. We had taken our awning down this morning fearing that with the strong gusts, it would get damaged, so on our return we decided to put up the windbreak instead. For years we had a colourful stripey affair with four posts that you whacked with a hammer and it was erected. We upgraded last year with one a bit more technical with a manual to match. Today was its third outing. We amused our neighbours for at least an hour as we figured out the various poles, straps and clips, but with a flourish and only a couple of collapses, we had it up! Feeling accomplished we opened up a bottle of wine to celebrate and huddled behind our newly erected shield. It was distinctly chilly (it’s only June). Finally we headed into The Van to make tea, drink more wine and chill. It had been a lovely day and Barnard Castle a rather pleasant place to visit seemingly surrounded by endless woodland. Perfect.