Friday, 22 October 2010

A-Walking: Stanhope Struggle

Our three expeditions this week (Sunday, 17th October) each took place in the Weardale area of County Durham. The A-Walk set off from West Stanhope, the B-Walk started at East Stanhope and the C-Walk commenced at Eastgate. All three walks finished at St John's Chapel.

After leaving Stanhope {NY 991 393}, the intent of the A-Walk was to visit Heathery Burn, East Whiteley Burn, Steward Shield Meadow, Bolt's Law, Whiteheaps Dam, Groove Rake, Scarsike Head and Westgate before arriving at our final destination in St John's Chapel {NY 884 379}.

We left our drop-off point at about 11.00 am. There were eight people in the group: JB, KB, PB, KF, CH, CL, AM and LM. PB led the walk.

From the A689 road we followed the B6278 minor road in a northerly direction for about 220 yards. We then turned left along a footpath at {NY 991 395} which took us down to Stanhope Burn. After crossing the stream using the footbridge at {NY 990 395} we followed the footpath in a north-westerly direction towards Widley Field {NY 986 402} - see the following picture.

Widley Field
We continued along the riverside footpath to reach a second footbridge at {NY 986 403} where we crossed back over to the east side of the burn. Turning left, and moving along a good track in a northerly direction, we made our way to the old Fluor-spar mine at {NY 986 413} near Heathery Burn.

Continuing on our northerly trek along severely eroded footpaths, we made our way to East Whiteley Burn {NY 987 426} where we turned onto a north-westerly bearing in order to reach the confluence of West Whiteley Burn with Stanhope Burn {NY 983 430}. As we approached the confluence of the two streams, we sighted a beautiful heron flying upstream away from us.

From the river confluence, we started our first major climb of the day. This took is up to the farm at Steward Shield Meadow {NY 983 438} and upwards to reach the old dismantled railway track at {NY 983 443}. Turning left along the track, we followed this in a west-north-westerly direction to reach the sheepfold at {NY 952 450} - see the picture below. As we trekked to the west, we experienced strong, cold head-winds. We therefore decided to use the sheepfold as a shelter for our lunch stop.

Leaving our lunch-stop location on a northerly bearing, we passed by Bolt’s Law on our left and navigated a route that took us to the (now disused) Fluor-spar mine at {NY 947 466}. Turning onto a westerly bearing, we walked along the edge of Whiteheaps Dam {NY 945 465}. From here we followed a south-westerly bearing over moorland terrain to reach a minor road at {NY 936 456}. As we trekked over the moor, we had some good views of Burnhead Dam on our left - to the south of us. Crossing the minor road, we continued our south-westerly trek through the heather-laden moorland to reach the junction of the boundary fences on Cuthbert’s Hill {NY 929 452}.

Because of the substantial heather growth on the route of the public footpath from Cuthbert’s Hill, we decided to follow an alternative path which lay on the north side of the boundary fence. We followed this in a west-south-westerly direction towards Dry Rigg {NY 906 447}. Just before reaching the trig point at {NY 913 449}, we turned left and headed south to re-join the public right-of-way at {NY 915 446}. We now followed this in order to reach Rookhope Chimney Track {NY 906 442} where we stopped for a short tea break. We were now conscious of the fact that we were running late as a result of the strong head-winds and under-foot conditions that we had been exposed to.

Rookhope Chimney Track
From the tea-stop location, we descended in a west-south-westerly direction over wet and muddy moorland terrain to reach the minor road at Groove Rake {NY 896 441}. Turning left, we followed the road in a south-easterly direction to reach a footpath on our right at {NY 903 432}. Following this path, we crossed Rookhope Burn at {NY 902 432} and then headed in a southerly direction, uphill, to the farm at Wolf Cleugh {NY 901 426}. Now switching to a south-easterly bearing, we made our way over the moorland to reach a road junction at {NY 910 413} on Scarsike Head. Leaving the road using the ladder-stile at {NY 910 412}, we trekked on a south-south-westerly bearing to reach a broad track at Whitley Hills {NY 905 403}. Heading in a southerly direction along the track, we followed this for about 240 yards and then turned right along a footpath that took us to Middle Hope. Turning left at {NY 905 400}, we now followed the course of Middlehope Burn in a southerly direction to reach Westgate {NY 906 382}.

Middlehope Burn
Turning right at, we followed a westerly going public footpath to {NY 901 381} where we turned left onto a southerly bearing that took us over the River Wear using the footbridge at {NY 901 379} to reach the Weardale Way. We followed this in a westerly direction to arrive at the A689 road at Daddryshield Bridge {NY 895 380}. We turned left here and followed the A689 road through Daddry Shield {NY 894 378} to reach St John’s Chapel where our coach was waiting for us. Sadly, we arrived at our destination about 30 minutes late.

We really struggled to get back within our allotted six-hour time slot. However, the elements were against us. We experienced quite strong winds on the high ground; these together with extensive sections of heather and bad conditions under-foot slowed us down quite considerably. Bearing this in mind, I would like to offer my sincere apologies to our coach driver and the other walkers for keeping them all waiting.

Use the buttons below to see where we went, how we did and some of the photos.




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