A Night Visit To Upper Weardale

There are two great dales in the County of Durham; Teesdale and Weardale. I always think of Teesdale as the pretty, agricultural dale. Whilst I tend to think of Weardale as having a great industrial heritage as well as its share of agricultural heritage.

The Place

Road at Night

Tonight’s visit was to Weardale. If you wound the clock back to the 1800s, Weardale would have looked very different to how it does today. It would have been full of activity dedicated to extract lead ore from the hills. The Weardale Lead Mining Company also mined Fluorspar in the area during the late Victorian Era. In short, the area was an economic powerhouse for the mine owners in its heyday.

However, I was not there to seek out history. I went to Weardale to investigate reports of ‘high strangeness’ in the area.

Night Wind and Rain

The people of Weardale are a hardy folk. They need to be as the weather can turn very quickly, bright sunshine one minute, rain and sleet the next.

I found that out this evening when a dry, warm evening suddenly turned into wind and rain. The wind was so strong that even when parked up, the car rocked when each gust of wind hit.

Real Darkness Night

One thing I had completely forgotten about the dale was how dark it gets at night. I know that may sound a little strange, but when I say dark, I mean really dark.

The picture to the right isn’t merely a black block of colour pasted into a JPG file. When I turned off the headlights of the car and all the internal lights, even with the light from the screen of my mobile phone, this is what the camera picked up when I took a photograph. Once the mobile phone was in lock mode, I couldn’t even see if the car window was up or down. That’s how dark it was. I know I may be labouring the point, but I can’t really explain how dark and isolated this place was.

The Visit

I pulled the car over into a parking spot, turned off the lights and engine and opened my driver side window. I wanted to listen to the sounds of the night in the area. Despite the wind, it seemed remarkably quiet. I could hear the sounds of the woods, trees creaking as they flexed in the wind, the occasional burst of birdsong (which I thought was odd at that time of night).

Time of Arrival:22:53
Altitude:2066ft Above Sea Level
Weather:Light rain exacerbated by gusting strong winds.

I took the approach that the best method to use would be to simply sit quietly and see what happened.

In the past there have been paranormal reports in the area, and also some cryptid sightings. I have always had a skeptical approach to both. I think until I experience the paranormal for myself, I’ll remain a doubter.

However, I had walked the area extensively over the years in daylight hours and felt that any cryptid would simply not have enough cover to traverse the land without regular sighting reports. I had failed to take into account the darkness of night.

It was entirely possible for a person, with no intent of hiding, to walk cross country, follow rivers or streams, or even footpaths without being spotted by anyone else. Add into the equation someone wearing a ghillie suit (or camouflage) to try and break up their outline and the chances of being spotted reduce to near zero. Now if you consider an animal whose instincts are they really didn’t want to be seen, and a situation I thought was not possible, becomes the most likely of scenarios. In short, I had been wrong in my assumptions.

What Happened?

The quick answer to this is nothing much. I didn’t hear the screams of a ghostly apparition that others had reported in the past.

One thing that did happen after I had been there for about an hour, was a sound from inside the tree-line. I distinctly heard “Wurr-uh” with the emphasis and a rise in tone on the “uh”. It only happened twice, with around twenty seconds between each sound.

I’ve no idea what it was. Could it have been a deer? I am fairly convinced it wasn’t a cow as they tend to sound more like a cough and would not have been amongst the trees anyway.

As this was pretty much a spur of the moment type trip, I didn’t have a torch with me to shine into the tree-line. After waiting another twenty minutes or so without any further anomalies, I decided it was time to leave the area.

The Conclusion

The main conclusion is the entire visit was inconclusive. It was useful to experience the upper dale in the pitch black and see how such a familiar place can become so different at night. The main lesson I learned was to ALWAYS have my powerful torch in the back of the car ready for use and my video camera primed and ready.

This visit will be the first of many over the coming months.






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