Posted by: travelrat | August 31, 2012

Get Your Kicks on Route (A)66!

Bowes Moor: 28th August 2012.

The A66 road over the Pennines is one of England’s main transport routes. Originally running from Scotch Corner, on the main London-Edinburgh road to Penrith, in Cumbria, it’s now been extended westward, as far as the Cumbrian coast.

The highest, and bleakest part lies between Bowes and Brough, and, although the road in winter is not as formidable as it used to be, it’s still sometimes closed in extreme weather. And, as an indicator of how bad it can get, there are posts by the side of the road to show how deep the snow is, and gates at either end of the worst bit which can be closed if conditions are too bad.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the frequent roadside snack bars in the lay-bys. The most famous one, the Brough Summit café which, years ago, used to be in a caravan, is now a substantial building. It has to be, to withstand the weather up here.

But, many of them still operate from caravans or trailers, and the one we stopped at is situated right on the Cumbria/Durham border. The caravan is actually in Cumbria, but the litter bin is in Durham In fact, at the time of our visit, the bin was being emptied by a truck with a Durham County Council logo.

The man in the caravan explained. In lay-bys in Durham, he told us, there is a litter bin which is emptied regularly, whereas in Cumbria, they just have a sign, telling you to take your litter home.

The caravan is on one of the bleakest parts of the moor, but fortunately, it wasn’t snowing or raining today … which was a good thing, because the caravan is reserved only for cooking, You must eat your food outside … or, because of a rather brisk wind, in the car.

But, the excellent, freshly cooked bacon and black pudding rolls more than made up for this slight inconvenience.



  1. One of England bits of wilderness. I’ve done the old road a couple of times in light blizzard conditions, but nothing serious.

    • I used to know it well … back in the day, it was a prime hitch-hiking route if you wanted to get from one side of the country to another.

      It’s still a main transport route for trucks from Glasgow and Carlisle … we saw so many Eddie Stobart trucks, they probably a major contributor to the road’s upkeep 😀

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