The Adventurer's Guide to Britain

Tuesday, 13 December 2011, 7:30PM – 8:00PM

In the fourth episode of the series Gethin Jones and Charlotte Uhlenbroek head to the North Pennines in search of adventure and to unearth adrenaline gold. 

Upper Teesdale is one of Britain’s least visited beauty spots but its geology makes for some truly spectacular waterfalls. On day one Charlotte sets off up river from High Force, England’s biggest waterfall to Cauldron Snout which lays claim to being England’s longest waterfall. 

Charlotte’s seven mile journey to the most remote waterfall on the Tees is along a pretty valley cut by the river and packed with stunning wildlife as well as the largest juniper forest in England. 

After walking for two and a half hours Charlotte turns a corner and is overwhelmed by the sight and sound of Cauldron Snout. 

“There’s something about waterfalls, I think it’s just the sheer power of the water and the noise that you get this visceral reaction to them,” enthuses Charlotte 

The waterfall is so long that when you’re at the bottom you can’t see the top so, to appreciate it properly, Charlotte undertakes the 200 metre steep uphill scramble. 

“This is fantastic up here, you can actually see the whole stretch all the way down,” exclaims Charlotte. 

Charlotte then sets off to explore the unique flora of the area including varieties of tiny alpine plants, rare survivors from the last ice age. 

“I love this kind of bleak landscape and then all those beautiful pretty little plants that I’ve ended the day on, but it has been a pretty gentle day so I’m ready for some high drama tomorrow,” says Charlotte. 

Meanwhile Gethin joins professional guide Alistair Myers to explore one of the regions disused lead mines. They arrive at the point of entry, an old drainage tunnel and begin the journey to the heart of the 240 year old mine. 

“We’re only five minutes into the tunnel and it’s already getting colder and scarier with every step,” admits Gethin. 

50 meters later they hit the bedrock. “Now that I’m in the heart of the mine, the overwhelming feeling is just how hard life must have been for the miners,” says Gethin. 

Alistair convinces Gethin to push on further into the mine but it proves to be a claustrophobic’s nightmare as, in order to do so, the pair have to lay flat and squeeze through a gap of just 18 inches high. 

“I’m told that even the most hardened of cavers are not keen on mines because of the loose rock, and right now, I can honestly say I don’t blame them,” says Gethin. 

Upon reaching the working face of the mine that once produced 11,500 tonnes of lead, Gethin is genuinely blown away by the perfectly preserved chamber. 

“There’s no dust to cover the walls, no spiders to spin webs, no sun, no decay and when this underground time capsule is candle lit it transports you back to that forgotten era,” says Gethin. 

On day two the adventurers meet up and head off to the upper reaches of the River Tees to try out a hot new adventure sport – white water tubing, a sport that took off 5 years ago in Colorado when local college students started using the inner tubes from car tyres to run the rapids. 

Lloyd Murray, a white water tubing pioneer, takes Gethin and Charlotte to his favourite tubing spot, a rapid called Salmon Leap Cascade and, after a crash course in river safety, Lloyd offers the adventurers valuable advice on how best to negotiate the tricky rapids – by imitating salmon! 

After practising on the smaller rapids it’s finally time to tube and the pair are keen to have a go at something bigger. 

“I love a bit of adventure sport and his is a real challenge,” admits Gethin 

After three attempts Charlotte proves she’s the better salmon and manages to make it all the way down the series of rapids, but Gethin can’t manage to stay in his tube. “Just when you think you’re in control of Mother Nature she bites back,” says Gethin. 

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