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The 'orange route' track at the top of Potato Hill in the Hamsterley Forest
The 'orange route' track at the top of Potato Hill in the Hamsterley Forest

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Route No. 463 - Wednesday 28 March 2012
Hamsterley Forest, Bedburn Beck, Potato Hill, Orange & Blue way marked routes - 7km
Co. Durham . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL31 North Pennines


Start of the way marked trails near the visitor centre
Start of the way marked trails near the visitor centre

Today is the last day of our trip to Weardale. We've already seem some great walking country and today we are going to explore part of the Hamsterley Forest. After a good full English breakfast we checked out of the pub and drove the short distance to the Hamsterley Forest visitor centre about 8km south of Wolsingham at map ref. NZ092311. We parked in the main car park by the visitor centre and set off from the car park along a way marked trail (the Blue Trail) upstream along the bank of the Bedburn Beck.

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. We are staying at the pub in the village of Eastgate on the River Wear at the confluence with Rookhope Burn.

The Blue Trail following the Bedburn Beck
The Blue Trail following the Bedburn Beck

The Blue Trail following the Bedburn Beck
The Blue Trail following the Bedburn Beck

The Blue Trail following the Bedburn Beck
The Blue Trail following the Bedburn Beck

The Blue Trail following the Bedburn Beck
The Blue Trail following the Bedburn Beck

We were walking the opposite way round the route to the forestry commission leaflet so the way marks were placed for walkers coming in that direction. From the bridge over Bedburn Beck we crossed a small grassy picnic area and car park to the forest drive road at map ref. NZ079308.

It was a pretty path between the forest drive and the beck. After about 1.2km we came to a bridge over the beck where the blue trail crosses the beck. Here we left the blue trail and followed the orange trail.

Bedburn Beck
Bedburn Beck

Crossing the picnic area to the road
Crossing the picnic area to the road

Approaching the Green Man sculpture
Approaching the Green Man sculpture

The 'Green Man' face of the sculpture
The 'Green Man' face of the sculpture

It consists of a series of carved poles placed in a triangular array. They are carved in such a way that the three sides of the triangle each reveal a different face, 'The Green Man', 'The Green Son' & 'The Green Father'. I must admit that I do like sculpture placed in wild outdoor settings.

We turned right at the road and walked along it for about 150. Here we turned off the road on to a path on the left up a small bank to a large wooded sculpture in a grassy area at the top. The sculpture is 'The Green Man'.

The 'Green Father' face of the sculpture
The 'Green Father' face of the sculpture

Track near Ayhope Beck
Track near Ayhope Beck

The track through the forest a few metres to the north of Ayhope Beck
The track through the forest a few metres to the north of Ayhope Beck

The track above Ayhope Beck
The track above Ayhope Beck

Ruins above Ayhope Beck
Ruins above Ayhope Beck

Footbridge over Ayhope Beck
Footbridge over Ayhope Beck

After about 1km from the Green Man sculpture we came to some ruins a little way above the beck. Here we turned left down the slope to cross the beck on a footbridge.

From the sculpture we followed a path through the forest heading upstream alongside the Ayhope Beck.

The track above Ayhope Beck
The track above Ayhope Beck

Ruins above Ayhope Beck
Ruins above Ayhope Beck

Ayhope Beck from the footbridge
Ayhope Beck from the footbridge

Approaching the footbridge over Ayhope Beck
Approaching the footbridge over Ayhope Beck

The track up Potato Hill
The track up Potato Hill

There was a pleasant view over the moors of Hamsterley Common and Pikestone Fell to the west and the hamlet of Middle Redford and the forest to the east.

Across the beck we followed a wide earth track up the slope for about 350m to a junction in the tracks at the top at map ref. NZ068309. This is Potato Hill. We sat on some large rocks here for some lunch.

The 'orange route' track at the top of Potato Hill
The 'orange route' track at the top of Potato Hill

Our lunch stop on Potato Hill
Our lunch stop on Potato Hill

Middle Redford below our track
Middle Redford below our track

Track from Potato Hill down to Bedburn Beck
Track from Potato Hill down to Bedburn Beck

The track reaches Bedburn Beck
The track reaches Bedburn Beck

We crossed the footbridge and turned left to walk along a tarmac track by the beck for about 200m to the point where the orange trail crossed the track. (We should not have crossed the footbridge, but should have followed a path cutting the corner off.)

After our break we continued heading roughly south on a track along the edge of the forest with Middle Redford below us on our left. We followed the path down hill for about 1km to a footbridge over Bedburn Beck at map ref. NZ066300.

Track from Potato Hill down to Bedburn Beck
Track from Potato Hill down to Bedburn Beck

Primroses by the track
Primroses by the track

Footbridge over Bedburn Beck
Footbridge over Bedburn Beck

Way marked path cutting the corner off
Way marked path cutting the corner off

Forest path climbing up the valley side
Forest path climbing up the valley side

Crossing the forest road part way up the valley side
Crossing the forest road part way up the valley side

Almost at the top access track
Almost at the top access track

This path through the trees is a public footpath. After about 250m we came to a stone forest access track where we turned left. The public footpath goes straight across this track.

Here we turned right off the road to climb up through the forest for about 150m to another road higher up the valley side. We crossed the road and continued to climb up the hillside.

Start of the climb up the valley side
Start of the climb up the valley side

Forest path climbing up the valley side
Forest path climbing up the valley side

The climb up to the top access track
The climb up to the top access track

The stone forest access track
The stone forest access track

The orange trail following a forest track
The orange trail following a forest track

Making for the road along a forest track
Making for the road along a forest track

The orange trail was diverted around the felling work
The orange trail was diverted around the felling work

The diverted orange trail along the road
The diverted orange trail along the road

We turned right at the road and walked along it for about 500m. Here we turned left off the road to follow a forest rack heading north east slowly descending down the valley side.

We walked along the track for about 1km to a road at map ref. NZ079304. (This part of our route was an official diversion of the orange trail to avoid some felling operations).

Following the diversion along the road
Following the diversion along the road

Peacock butterfly on the path
Peacock butterfly on the path

The track descending towards the visitor centre
The track descending towards the visitor centre

Heading back towards the visitor centre along the forest tracks
Heading back towards the visitor centre along the forest tracks

The track turned round to head north and we came to a 'T'- junction at map ref. NZ089309. At the junction our route turned left along a forest track and after another 200m the route turned right to drop down along the track to a bridge over the Bedburn Beck at map ref. NZ088311. Across the bridge our route turns right to follow the beck back to the car park and the end of our walk. The whole route had been 7km and it had taken us about two and a half hours to walk including our stops. After our walk we drove home having had three really good days walking in Wear Dale in perfect weather and very comfortable accommodation. An excellent three day trip.