We heard the monster long before we spotted it… a deep rumbling sound that carried through the trees.
As we rounded a bend on the path it finally came into view – the mighty High Force waterfall, swollen by days of heavy rain.
In full flow it’s a jaw-dropping sight as the River Tees tumbles 70ft down a rocky gorge. This has to be one of the UK’s most impressive natural wonders – and you can see it for the bargain price of just £1.50.
Our visit to the falls on a wet and windy morning was a highlight of our four-day visit to the magnificent Durham Dales.
This huge area of hills, moors and valleys in the northern Pennines takes in Teesdale, where you’ll find High Force, along with the neighbouring Weardale.
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Our base was the quiet family-friendly Heather View leisure park. It’s right on the banks of the Wear, where guests can fish the fresh peaty waters.
We stayed in an incredible lodge that was a world away from the poky caravans of my youth. This whopping home from home had a massive lounge, two big bedrooms and a family-sized bathroom.
The huge kitchen with its dishwasher and washing machine wouldn’t look out of place in a large flat. It’s superbly equipped, with plenty of space to knock up magnificent meals you can enjoy out on the decking.
If you don’t want to eat in, Heather View has an on-site restaurant and bar serving hearty family favourites. It’s a fun and friendly place to dine, with entertainment laid on including pub quizzes.
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Around Heather View and the nearby market town of Stanhope there is loads for families to see and do.
Outdoorsy types will love exploring the rolling hills or walking beside the Wear looking for wildlife. If you love life on two wheels, head to nearby Hamsterley Forest to explore the woodland lanes by bike. Tiny children will love the Gruffalo trail with its augmented reality sculptures accessed via an app on your mobile.
If talk of phones and technology leaves you yearning for simpler times then jump in the car and head to Beamish – a living museum where a pit village, 1940s farm and 1900s town have been painstakingly reproduced down to the smallest details. There are working trams and buses to ferry you around and it’s manned by volunteers in period costumes.
It’s a bit like a Geordie WestWorld…but friendlier and without the sex and violence.
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Beamish is a brilliant place to visit but make sure you set aside a full day if you want to see everything. Definitely try the fish and chips cooked in a coal-fired range, and have a pint, in the Sun Inn – a traditional pub brought in brick by brick from Bishop Auckland.
There’s even a newspaper office where old hacks like me can reminisce over the days when you had to shout over typewriters, and cigarette smoke filled the air (beamish.org.uk adult £19.50/child £11.50).
There aren’t many places in Britain offering such a blend of history, amazing natural sights and great family fun on the doorstep.
But if you’re hoping to find one, I’ll show you Wear to look.
- A Monday to Friday stay in a Willerby Portland lodge at Heather View holiday park, near Stanhope, Co Durham, is from £229 at verdantleisure.co.uk/heather-view .
See thisisdurham.com for tourist information.
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