This lovely walk in the Tyne Valley around Haydon Bridge is another local walk like the Red Kite Trail and Bedes Way, sponsored by different groups which in this case is Haydon Parish Council. It was developed by a community project in 2004 to celebrate the life of John Martin and was officially opened in 2006. It is funded and managed by Haydon Parish Council and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Trust some of whose land it passes through.
John Martin (1789 -1854) was born in Haydon Bridge and became the most popular artist of his day. His paintings are set in dramatic landscapes and are often based on religious stories. They can be seen locally at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle and also grace the Tate Gallery in London.
The walk takes the shape of an unbalanced figure-of-eight with the northern section being only 2 miles whilst the southern section is 11 miles with the two routes meeting at the railway station in Church Street. The scenery throughout is excellent and the way is well waymarked. The northern route starts off going down the riverside to pass West Mill Hills and along the east side of Haydonside Plantation to the road where it turns left to West Haydon Farm. Next comes Page Croft before going across fields to Haydon Old Church where he worshipped. This is a great spot to take a rest and sit on a seat to enjoy the views of the southern section. At The Tofts it then goes south down across the fields to Church Street .
The southern section leaves Haydon Bridge to the west on the south bank and goes to Morallee Wood and its pleasant tarn owned by the National Trust (at GR 805635) via Lees Farm. It is then down to Allen Banks where you head south upriver through Plankey Mill to eventually arrive at Staward Pele Tower with the easy way and steeper climb both mentioned in the leaflet. This leaflet also highlights the danger on this section and indeed on one occasion it was too icy for us to use this section due to the steep banks. The return to Haydon Bridge is via Harsondale Farm and its access road. This section passes quite close to Carts Bog Inn which serves both good food and ale. It is then past West Deanrow where a minor road is taken to Langley Castle now restored to a superb hotel. Locate a broad track opposite the entrance which is followed to a footpath heading north (at GR847269) which leads downhill back to the start.
A leaflet for the walk can be obtained from the newsagents in Church Street in Haydon Bridge and further information can be found on www.visit-haydon-bridge.co.uk. I can highly recommend this walk which deserves to be better known and can be fitted in on a short break with a visit to Hadrian’s Wall.
Distance: 2 Miles
Start: Ebchester Picnic Park on the Derwent Walk
This walk starts at Ebchester Picnic Park on the Derwent Walk primarily because of the good quality parking although those doing the walk with a small number can start at Medomsley itself. The advantage of an Ebchester start is that it is an easy finish with great views ahead of you and because of a slight difference of route omits a little road walking. Plenty has been written about the Derwent Walk on other routes but suffice to say that the line opened in 1867 and was closed by British Rail in 1962. Ebchester Station itself closed on 21st September 1953. The line had reached its peak in 1914 when it carried half a million passengers annually but the combination of improved roads and the fact that the line had to gain considerable height to reach Consett meant that the line left the valley bottom and much of the local population. The Derwent Walk pub at the entrance to the start was originally the Station Hotel and serves good ale and more than acceptable food.
We start by walking up the line southwards passing under the roadbridge of A691 which for much of its route follows the Roman road Dere Street. Further details on this and the Dere Street Trail can be found on the information board at the start. After about 400 yards the path crosses Whinny Lane which is a narrow, very minor road probably named after Whin bushes growing in the area. Climbing up the road, it climbs steeply to reach the A601. Here turn left downhill and ignore the clear footpath at Broomhill Farm (another name for Whin) and continue down for a short distance where a waymarked footpath leaves the road and climbs up to Broomhill Farm. Head west in front of the buildings to a stile which is crossed and follow the path ahead. To your left nearby is the back of the Derwent Walk Inn near to the start. By continuing along the path, you soon reach a junction where you almost double back on yourself to return to the Derwent Walk. When reaching it, turn left to return to the beginning of this short but pleasant stroll.
The year 2010 saw the re-emergence of a path on the correct route which had been lost for over 15 years as people had taken an easier route not on the right of way. When some clearance work was underway Colin Bell (a Medomsley resident) and Nick Hall (a DCC Area Rights of Way Officer) discovered the correct route and a long flight of steps. After much work from the Volunteer Rangers the steps were cleared and brought back to standard. The route is now waymarked as part of the Medomsley Parish Paths Walks and an illustrated leaflet has been produced which gives routes on all the paths.
The following is taken from the Yorkshire Dales Green Lane Alliance February 2013 Newsletter which l think is very relevant. I still feel that the protection of these bridleways and green ways are the most important and dangerous threats to ramblers throughout the UK and it is imperative that all those who love these fine routes remain both vigilant and proactive in their protection.
When YDGLA was launched, 10 years ago, every member, and loads of organisations and individuals who are not signed up to us would write to the authorities whenever the call came for a concerted lobby. Perhaps because we have been so successful, it seems that people are less committed to writing, thinking, perhaps, that the job’s done. What makes this troubling is the fact that the motor lobby, probably learning from organisations such as YDGLA, has got much better at its own lobbying. For example, when North Yorkshire County Council conducted a consultation on how it should manage its network of Unclassified County Roads (UUCRs), most of which are green lanes, 73% of respondents said that ‘motorised activities’ is their reason for using UUCRs. It is highly unlikely that 73% of the people who use, say, Dawson Close (the fine green lane that runs down into Littondale from Blishmire, below Pen-y-ghent) do so astride a motorbike, or peering through the windscreen of a 4×4. But if non-motorised users, who will surely be in the majority on Dawson Close, and on green lanes like it, don’t make their views known, the motoring lobby will start to re-take ground that it has steadily lost during the past 10 years. Be warned.
Distance: 12 miles
Start: Waskerley Station Picnic area, Waskerley Village (GR NZ051454)
When one takes stock of the current national situation regarding rambling, routes available and access there is no doubt whatsoever that the situation is immeasurably better than it was back in the 1960s when l started walking. Indeed there is now a plethora of guide books and walking and climbing magazines. However although there has been a significant improvement on many minor paths which is currently under some pressure as local authorities try to cut costs, the real downside is the destruction of many old routes in remote places by 4WD vehicles and Trail Bikes. Some of this is indeed legal but many of us will have had peace and tranquility destroyed in remote places by trail bikes and sometimes 4WD used illegally.
The whole situation is quite complex and the key as to whether they can use routes is ‘historical use’ and whether in the past there has been regular use on certain routes such as BOATs (Byways Open to All Traffic). Obviously Bridleways, often illegally used, are for walkers, cyclists and horses only. There is a range of designations and terms in use and these can be found on both the website of the Yorkshire Dales Green Lane Alliance (YDGLA) and the Peak District Green Lane Alliance (PDGLA). The former was set up about 10 years ago following the destruction of many of the famous Yorkshire Green Lanes which can be found throughout the Dales. Some, such as Mastiles Lane, are quite rightly famous among the outdoor fraternity. The YDGLA has been very successful and has saved many routes where Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) have been established, which can either stop or limit vehicular access. The PDGLA is much more recent but they have managed to get a TRO on Chapel Gate which links to the start of the Pennine Way.
Here in Co Durham the position has been much quieter although there are currently six BOATs where a claim has been made to legalise motorised transport. This is currently under discussion with amenity groups, wildlife groups and the landowners all being opposed. A decision will probably be made within the next year when the barristers have had their say. We will be walking on part of one of these routes in this walk.
The walk starts at Waskerley village (or what little remains of it). Before starting have a look inside the church where Dave Liddle, a DCC Ranger, has mounted an interesting display of some of the history of the village and the railway. The line originally opened in 1834 to carry limestone from Stanhope and coal from further down the line to the Tyne at South Shields. The Consulting Engineer was Robert Stephenson. It was not built on an Act of Parliament but on a succession of wayleaves with the landowners. Their extortionate demands led to the closure in 1840. The line then reopened on September 1st 1845 under two owners: the section from Stanhope to Consett was under the ownership of the Derwent Iron company to safeguard their supplies of limestone, whilst the section from Consett to the Tyne became the Pontop Tyne Railway. The Derwent section was rough terrain and there was engine houses at Crawley and Wetherill to raise the waggons from Stanhope to the moors. Just past Waskerley the line went to the north of the current track to eventually reach Hownes Gill via Nanny Mayers incline which was self acting where waggons descending pulled others up. There was an ale house here kept by the aforementioned lady and her grave can be seen in Muggleswick churchyard. Hownes Gill was also difficult where the waggons were lowered down an incline and up the other side to reach level ground.
The situation improved tremendously when the Stockton and Darlington Railway opened a line through Crook and Tow Law to Burnhill where it joined up with the Derwent Iron Railway. An S & D marker will be seen towards the end of the walk. This new line eliminated the Nanny Mayers incline route (which can still be traced on the ground) and the construction of the superb Hownes Gill Viaduct was another great step forward. The line was the highest standard gauge line in the country. However the low density of population passenger numbers were negligible and the line closed to passengers as long ago as 1859, although unauthorised passengers were carried well into the 20th century! The line eventually closed on August 2nd 1965. The inclines at Crawley and Wetherill were in use throughout and it is a pity that one winding engine could not have been retained for posterity.
The closure also saw the end of Waskerley Village which was entirely a railway community and the houses were demolished. A litle known fact is that during WW2 people were evacuated here and recently we met a chap who had been there as a child until 1947 when he returned to the Tyne. All that remains now are two farms, the church and the goods shed.
All this is history but l am sure that all those who worked on this railway would approve of its current use as a bridleway well used by walkers and some horseriders, but most significantly by cyclists as it is part of the famous C2C route which brings business and some employment to the area. The credit for this must go initially to DCC for creating so many fine routes on abandoned railway lines and to Sustrans for developing and publicising the route. What a pity that other County Councils were not as far sighted!
We walk down the route past the old goods shed. The sides of this railway are a haven for butterflies and a list of the rare ones are on an interpretation board but some to be found are small pearl bordered fritillary, speckled wood, small heath, dingy skipper, green veined white and orange tip. Quite a collection! Keep an eye open for a specially themed DCC walk to see these butterflies. Near to the Information Board can be found frog orchids. Near this spot is also memorial seat for Ian Patterson, a DCC Voluntary Ranger, who sadly died whilst out walking in this area.
You soon reach a spot where the path bends back on itself acutely and this is where the Derwent Iron met the S & D. There was obviously a manouevre here to arrange the change of direction but current work on the C2C is constructing an easier route which historically is a pity in some ways. Presumably the original route will also stay open with access by a stile.
At Red House leave the line and head north-east, passing a bungalow on your left. The house to the right over the field called Bee Cottage Farm is served by a telephone link to Consett and this l am told is one of the longest in the country! For the last mile you will have noticed some old fences next to the track. This site was previously occupied by the Ministry of Defence and served as a military stores for both WW1 and WW2.
After a right turn you arrive at Oxen Law. This is on the line of an old pack horse route which probably carried salt as there is a Salters Gate to the south. The route was also a drovers route presumably for bringing cattle down from Scotland after the Falkirk Tryst. Heading north this is one of the BOATs mentioned earlier. The route has a hard surface for the first two fields and then skirts Whitehall Moss to arrive back at the railway. Not so long ago this was a turf track which is now deeply rutted and filled with water directly caused by vehicle usage. The original plan was to continue down towards the original track of Nanny Meyer but access is very difficult so we will continue down the Waskerley Way to Whitehall picnic area. Here turn left down the road for a short distance and then follow the footpath down to the Watergate Burn and a further picnic spot.
An alternative is to stay on the road to Healeyfield and just past the farm take the footpath north at GR 068483. Keep the woods on your left and eventually reach Dene Howl. This area was part of Healeyfield Lead mine and Dene Howl was the site of lead washing screens. There were deep shafts here up to 60 fathoms (360ft) deep and which were used to drain water. 10,000 tons of lead were extracted here with an average of 15 grams of silver per ton. Healeyfield is derived from a field near a high clearing whilst nearby Castleside was named after a local farmer called Castle. Dene Howl can also be reached from Watergate Picnic area GR 077465 by a good track.
We follow the access road from the farm west and at the road turn uphill passing through Springwell to Healeyfield Lane Head west along the road for a short distance and cross the stile on your right. We now go diagonally left down the field to cross the Horsleyhope Burn by a footbridge. Be careful as its very slippy! Climb up the other side, cross the stile and reach Low Horsleyhope which was derelict until recently. It was sold by auction in 2011 and is being restored. Watch out for hares around here. The waymarked route heads uphill past Middle Horsleyhope and High Horsleyhope to reach Goldhill. A footpath sign here would be handy but go into the back of the farm and exit to the left. There is now a good track to Carp Shield in glorious scenery and here again a footpath sign would be useful so you know to go round the back of the farm by the small gate on the right and then through a large gate. Ahead is Cushat Leazes, an atmospheric ruin, which is a very pleasant spot.
Head south to the access land stile and take the path to the right following the wall and at the corner cross Backstone Burn. In front of you is the dam wall for Smiddy Shaw reservoir built in 1877 along with Waskerley and Hishope which actually feeds Smiddy Shaw. All three go to the Treatment works at Honey Hill and when this supply is insufficient water can be taken from Burnhope by gravity and from the Tyne Tees pipeline. Cross the Hisehope feeder near to The Pike and continue south-west to reach the main road at Hawkburn Head and then the Waskerley Way which is followed downhill back to the start. Keep an eye open for the S & D marker on your left. About 400 yards before Waskerley is a memorial seat to Muriel Gallagher who was a resident of Waskerley and it was her husband’s company who demolished the houses of Waskerley village. Also on your right is a fenced-off area which is a juniper plantation where there is an explanation board. In the light of the current problem with the junipers in Teesdale we may well need more of these in the future.
This walk has a bit of everything with wide-ranging views, historical interest and old railways but it also shows the difficulties of upland sheep farmers where properties are for sale or have been abandoned. Thanks are due to Brian Page a Voluntary Ranger of DCC and Dave Liddle a full time Ranger for DCC who have provided some of the information on this walk.
I am a fan of the walking guides produced by Rucksack Readers and recently reviewed their “Hadrian’s Wall Path” book, written by the same team. Their ethos of keeping things brief but at the same time succinct, and also producing the books on water resistant paper is a winner. Furthermore the size of the book fits easily into most pockets.
Howver I am somewhat surprised that they chose to produce a book on the Cleveland Way. Rucksack Readers have produced many fine books on popular areas of the world such as the Inca Trail and many in the UK and in addition manage to publish books on some lesser trails particularly in Scotland some of which my own group intend to walk someday.
The Cleveland Way was our second long distance path (now called National Trails) and opened in May 1969 some four years after the Pennine Way. My personal opinion is that it does not get the recognition that it deserves. I live quite close to most of the route, some sections of which l have walked many times, and it is a superb route best appreciated on clear days due to its extensive views often over much of northern England. Possibly its location in the North East has meant that walkers often plump for walks nearer to where they live and this is illustrated by a group I sometimes join whose home area is Devon. They have been in existence for over 30 years, have an Annual Walk either in the UK or in Europe and it has taken them to this year before they selected the Cleveland Way. Needless to say they enjoyed it immensely and in this dire year for excess rain they had virtually a dry walk as this area has some of the lowest rainfall figures in the UK!
The reason that I am surprised by the choice of the Cleveland Way is that this is probably the easiest National Trail to follow without having to use large scale maps. For almost its entire length it follows the Cleveland escarpment and then on reaching the coast follows the magnificent cliffs south to end at Filey. Indeed these cliffs are easily the highest on the east coast and as a consequence route finding is easy. I note myself that I am still using the National Trail Guide of Alan Falconer from 1972 which probably illustrates my point that the book tends to get used for historical data etc. and not for route finding in difficult conditions. Furthermore there are already two other Guide books on this walk, these being the Official Guide and one by Paddy Dillon on Cicerone. The latter also includes the Wolds Way and the Tabular Hills, which take you on a fine route back towards the start at Helmsley.
This Rucksack Readers book maintains their high standards though. The pages on Heritage are good with a fine section on the geology of the area and the iron and alum which were mined in the areas through which the path passes. The illustrations are superb and there are 90 colour photos which means that on completion you can refresh your memory of the walk. I particularly like the section on the History of the Cleveland Way which highlights the work of the pioneers as much of the walk has been used from the early days of leisure walking in England.
It would be good to see further information on altitude climbed each day as the section from Osmotherley to Clay Bank will give rise to some tired limbs! On that day the diversion to Mount Grace Abbey (National Trust) is only for the fit as it involves a descent back to the Vale of York and in any case deserves quality time to be spent there. The diversion to Guisborough is recommended as this is a fine small town, but do not get Cleveland Street which is used for part of the way back onto the way, with the Cleveland Way itself.
In future l will be using this guide when on the Cleveland Way partly to conserve my Falconer, which has memories and dates of some lovely days with old friends, but also because l likethis book which has all the information that l need in a compact format which can be easily used on windy days.
Cleveland Way ISBN 978-1-898481-55-3
Published by Rucksack Readers Price £10.99
Sadly since penning this review the author Gordon Simm, whose knowledge of the Cleveland Hills and North Yorkshire Moors National Park was profound, went missing on a gorge walk near Nerja on the Costa del Sol in Spain and has not been found. Any further information on this tragic situation can be found at http://www.rucsacs.com/authors/Gordon-Simm