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Looking over Hangingwells Common from the Weardale Way
Looking over Hangingwells Common from the Weardale Way

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Route No. 461 - Monday 26 March 2012
Eastgate, Rookhope Burn, Weardale Way, Westgate, River Wear circuit - 14km
Wear Dale, Co. Durham . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 307 Consett & Derwent Reservoir


The pub where we stayed in Eastgate
The pub where we stayed in Eastgate

Rookhope Burn by the pub car park
Rookhope Burn by the pub car park

Path through the gardens to the Rookhope Burn
Path through the gardens to the Rookhope Burn

This morning we drove up here and parked in the pub car park at map ref. NY952387. From the pub we walked along the main road (A689) for about 100m across the Rookhope Burn and turned left to walk along a narrow lane with a row of buildings between the lane and the burn. After about 150m along the lane we turned left off the lane to follow a signed path between the buildings and their yards to a footbridge over the burn.

My mate, Jim, and I have managed to get our wives to agree to the two of us having three days walking in Weardale this week. It's an area that neither of us has walked before so we are looking forward to seeing some new country. We are staying at the pub in the village of Eastgate on the River Wear at the confluence with Rookhope Burn. It seems that the whole hillside from the Rookhope Burn across to Westgate was once a hunting park for the Prince Bishop of Durham and Eastgate & Westgate were the entrances to the hunting park.

Road bridge over the Rookhope Burn
Road bridge (A689) over the Rookhope Burn

Old chapel now a house by the Rookhope Burn
Old chapel now a house by the Rookhope Burn

Path through the gardens to the Rookhope Burn
Path through the gardens to the Rookhope Burn

Footbridge over the Rookhope Burn
Footbridge over the Rookhope Burn

Footpath by the Rookhope Burn
Footpath by the Rookhope Burn

One of many watefalls on the Rookhope Burn
One of many waterfalls on the Rookhope Burn

Footpath by the Rookhope Burn
Footpath by the Rookhope Burn

After about 1km we came to a large fallen tree trunk facing a high wooded bank across the burn. It was already lunch time after our drive to get here so we sat on the tree trunk for our lunch with the sound of a woodpecker echoing across to us from the tall trees over the burn.

We crossed the footbridge with a pipe bridge just upstream and a pretty waterfall upstream of the pipe crossing. From the footbridge we followed the burn upstream through a caravan site and then along the bank of the burn through the fields, past a series of waterfalls.

Rookhope Burn seen from the footbridge
Rookhope Burn seen from the footbridge

One of many watefalls on the Rookhope Burn
One of many waterfalls on the Rookhope Burn

Footpath by the Rookhope Burn
Footpath by the Rookhope Burn

Footpath by the Rookhope BurnFootpath by the Rookhope Burn
Footpath by the Rookhope Burn

Enjoying the Rookhope Burn in the warm sunshine
Enjoying the Rookhope Burn in the warm sunshine

Our lunch stop on a fallen tree trunk
Our lunch stop on a fallen tree trunk

Footpath by the Rookhope Burn after lunch
Footpath by the Rookhope Burn after lunch

Primroses by the path
Primroses by the path

Approaching the road above the burn
Approaching the road above the burn

Ewes and lambs at North Hangingwells farm
Ewes and lambs at North Hangingwells farm

We followed the track through the farm yard to climb up the hillside through the fields on a farm track with some woodland at the edge of the field on our left. After about 600m we came to a large midden or muck heap just ahead of us near the top of a field and some woodland at the edge of the field to our right. Here we turned left to follow the Weardale Way.

After our break we continued on a path through some woodland above the burn and across a small gully to map ref. NY946404. Here our path turned left to climb up across the field to a road at map ref. NY944405. At the road we turned right to walk along the road for about 150m where we turned left off the road on to a footpath up the farm drive to North Hanging Wells farm.

Climbing up to the road from the burn
Climbing up to the road from the burn

Celandines by the path
Celandines by the path

Track up the hillside from North Hangingwells farm
Track up the hillside from North Hangingwells farm

A lovely Scots Pine where we joined the Weardale Way
A lovely Scots Pine where we joined the Weardale Way

The Weardale Way following the bed of the disused railway that ran from Rookhope to Westgate
The Weardale Way following the bed of the disused railway that ran from Rookhope to Westgate

Ruined railway building
Ruined railway building

Looking back along the old railway bed
Looking back along the old railway bed

The line carried stone, iron ore and lead and was in use into the 1900's. After about 800m along the Weardale Way we came to an embankment that had carried the railway across the little valley of Crow's Cleugh. Here the railway makes a right angle turn and on the crown of the bend the Weardale Way heads up the moor to cross Weather Hill.

The Weardale Way path came along the edge of the wood to our right and crossed the corner of the field we were in. We turned left to follow it contouring around the hillside on what was soon clearly the bed of a disused railway. This part of the railway was built in the mid 1800's to Westgate as an extension of the existing line from Stanhope to Rookhope.

Following the old railway bed
Following the old railway bed

The embankment across Crow's Cleugh
The embankment across Crow's Cleugh

The embankment across Crow's Cleugh
The embankment across Crow's Cleugh

Skirting the edge of a boggy cutting
Skirting the edge of a boggy cutting

Here we came to the start of Heights Limestone Quarry on the right of the path. This is a huge quarry face about 700m long.

We continued along the old railway bed which was the original route of the Weardale Way for another 1km.

Approaching Heights Quarry along the old railway bed
Approaching Heights Quarry along the old railway bed

The start of Heights Quarry by the path along the old railway bed
The start of Heights Quarry by the path along the old railway bed

The 'flat'part of the quarry access road
The 'flat' part of the quarry access road

Walkway to the quarry reception office
Walkway to the quarry reception office

Path along the old railway bed
Path along the old railway bed

We followed the walkway past the quarry reception office and away from the quarry along the railway bed path. About 1km from the quarry at map ref. NY914388 we came to a track coming down the hillside at right angles to our railway path.

After another 200m we came to the quarry access road at map ref. NY929388 and followed the signs directing walkers to a fenced walkway safe from the heavy wagons loaded with stone as they made their way to the long steep decent to the road in the valley bottom. Surely there will be a terrible runaway accident here one day, or am I just a pessimist?

About to cross the quarry access road
About to cross the quarry access road

The path on the old railway bed beyond the quarry
The path on the old railway bed beyond the quarry

Large foundation block by the railway
Large foundation block by the railway

Weardale Way route down the hillside
Weardale Way route down the hillside

Heading for the road along the farm access drive
Heading for the road along the farm access drive

Here we carried straight on to the road and walked along the road towards Westgate. After about 400m at map ref. NY910381 there was a footpath sign on the left hand side of the road and a path down the the River Wear about 25m away. We climbed the stile and walked down to the riverside.

This track is the present route of the Weardale Way and we turned left to follow the Weardale Way down the hillside to Warden Hill farm. The path led us through the farmyard and down the farm access road. About 100m before we reached the main road at the bottom of the hill the Weardale Way turns right to cross the fields to Westgate.

Weardale Way through Warden Hill farm
Weardale Way through Warden Hill farm

Leaving the road near Westgate for the riverside
Leaving the road near Westgate for the riverside

Looking along the riverside to the edge of Westgate
Looking along the riverside to the edge of Westgate

Butter Burr flowers in a dank corner by the river
Butter Burr flowers in a dank corner by the river

Footbridge over the River Wear
Footbridge over the River Wear

Here we crossed the river and followed the path for about 150m up to the road in the hamlet of Brotherlee.

It was a pleasant spot and we sat on the river bank for a while to have a drink. We followed the path downstream along the river bank for about 1.5km to a footbridge at map ref. NY925378.

Heading downstream by the River Wear
Heading downstream by the River Wear

Footbridge over the River Wear
Footbridge over the River Wear

River Wear seen from the footbridge
River Wear seen from the footbridge

Dyke House on the road heading down the valley from the hamlet of Brotherlee
Dyke House on the road heading down the valley from the hamlet of Brotherlee

Heading for Ludwell farm along the road
Heading for Ludwell farm along the road

Heading for Ludwell farm along the road
Heading for Ludwell farm along the road

Turning towards Eastgate along the road
Turning towards Eastgate along the road

We discovered later that the river crossing had been demolished along with the old cement works. After about a kilometer we came to a junction and turned left to continue along the road across the river and back into Eastgate. The whole walk had been 14 km and it had taken us a little over 5 hours to walk including our stops.

At the road we turned left and walked along the road for about 2km to Ludwell farm. Here we had intended to turn left and follow the footpath across the river back to Eastgate. However there was a prominent sign indicating that the river crossing was closed so we had to continue along the road. After 300m we passed under an old conveyor structure which used to carry limestone from a quarry, about a kilometer away up the hillside to the south, down to the cement works across the river.

Looking to Ludwell farm from the road
Looking to Ludwell farm from the road

Continuing along the road past Ludwell farm
Continuing along the road past Ludwell farm

Road bridge over the River Wear near Eastgate
Road bridge over the River Wear near Eastgate

The River Wear from the road bridge near Eastgate
The River Wear from the road bridge near Eastgate