Monday, 23 February 2009

Walking the Weardale Way

On Sunday 22nd February, each of the three walking groups of Stockton Rambling Club did a section of the the Weardale Way - starting at different points along its route between Durham City and Bishop Auckland.

Click here or here for more details about the Weardale Way.

The A-group set off from the coach park in Durham City {NZ 275 430} at about 10.49 am. There were nine people in the group: LB, PB, CH, JJ+J, KF, MS, JY and PY. The walk was led by JJ.

After crossing the footbridge over the River Wear, we joined the Weardale Way (WW) at NZ 273 429 and headed south with the river on our left. There were some excellent views of Durham Castle and the Cathedral as we faithfully followed the course of the river to Maiden Castle and Shincliffe Bridge.

River Wear, Durham Castle and CathedralFrom Shincliffe we followed Hall Lane to Shincliffe Hall. As we passed through Shincliffe Woods there were some tremendous views of the River Wear as it made its way towards Durham and onwards to the coast at Sunderland.

From the river's edge, we had a good (but rather muddy) climb up to High Butterby Farm where we encountered some interesting quadrupeds having their lunch.

Cows at High Butterby Farm We carried on to and through Croxdale Hall. As we approached Sunderland Bridge we came across the B-group having their lunch. We had our lunch stop near Holywell Hall {NZ 252 370} - a picturesque spot overlooking the River Wear.

River Wear near Sunderland BridgeAfter lunch we carried on along the western bank of the River Wear to Page Bank Bridge, Jubliee Bridge and Furness Mill Farm. Here we had another good climb (including a ladder) from the river up to the old railway line near Bell Bank. We then had some terrific panoramic views as we walked on our easterly trek towards Farnley Hill. At Farnely we turned south and headed towards the Roman Road near Binchester.

Eventually, as we approached Bishop Auckland, we caught sight of the Newton Gap Viaduct - where we stopped to pose for a group photograph. One of the legs of this impressive structure (the viaduct, that is) can be seen in the background of the photo.

Group Photo at Newton Gap Viaduct As can be seen from the clock at the entrance to Auckland Castle, we arrived in Bishop Auckland well in advance of our required 16.45 pm deadline. Indeed we were more than 30 minutes early!

Entrance to Auckland CastleHaving some time to spare, some of us decided to do a quick 'optional' tour of the grounds of the castle.

Auckland CastleThere was an impressive array of flowers nestled on the grass banks underneath the trees. There was a profusion of yellow Winter Aconite with isolated patches of Snowdrops interspersed amongst them.

Flowers in Auckland CastleThe above scene reminded me of the opening lines of William Wordsworth's famous poem:

I wandered lonely as a cloud,
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
when all at once I saw a crowd ...

Snowdrops in Auckland CastleJudging by the profusion of flora depicted in the above two photographs, I guess Spring is well and truly on its way?



At 2 March 2009 at 02:17 , Blogger Jill Long said...

I think the photos of the 'weardale Way' are great. I think everyone enjoyed that walk both the 'B' and 'C' walks too. Thanks to all the leaders

Jill Long


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