33 Eggleston – Stanhope

Eggleston to Stanhope 16.8 miles (26.9Km.)

Outbuildings at Parson Byers

Outbuildings at Parson Byers

I had planned this section a little better. Having read “There is a public right of way heading north east from this point for nearly 4km to the ‘Meeting of the Grains’ but this is completely tree planted and impassable (in 1997). Therefore the GEW has been devised over a different route.”

Hamsterley Forest - Walkers Welcome

Hamsterley Forest - Walkers Welcome

I suppose the interpretation of this is that the GEW takes the route as described in the guide through Hamsterley Forest but I took the view that it would have used the blocked route had it been passable. Well in advance of my visit I emailed both the Forestry Commission and Durham County Council and received assurances from both that the path had been realigned and was now available for use. I planned to take the direct route, but prepared to take the alternative if necessary.

Leaving Eggleston the GEW manages to avoid duplication of the Teesdale Way but also the village facilities should they be required. I thought there might be companions but before catching them up my guide pulls me off their path and they are the last folk I see until I arrive in Stanhope.

Hamsterley Forest natural regeneration

Hamsterley Forest natural regeneration

It’s a steady drag up onto the Common along a stoned track that gradually fades away and finally disappears to a building in a dip over to the right. Waymarking now shows the parting of the paths and the entrance gate to the forest has a ‘Walkers Welcome’ sign attached. More signage offers assurance that things have improved since 1997. Although only conifer trees are in evidence they look lovely with new bright green needles emerging from the branches but elsewhere felling has taken place and the site perhaps resembles the Somme back in 1916. It looks like the felled areas are left to regenerate naturally as the new trees vary in size and spacing is random.

Having walked over three miles from the road I was a little put out by a notice pined to a post where I met the first decent forest track. This said the footpath would be closed for my safety to allow a car rally to use the forest tracks, there was NO ALTERNATIVE ROUTE. Fortunately the event had taken place a few days earlier so I was able to proceed and enjoy the silence the forest offered.

Path to Meeting of the Grains

Path to Meeting of the Grains

The clearance allowed a view of the remains of Neighbour Moor House and the kitchen range that must have once offered comfort to the inhabitants. There were a few broadleaf trees around Euden Beck then the bridleway climbs towards the forest boundary and open moorland. Here the path changes to footpath and a notice advises others users that the route is only for those on foot, but any signs of cycles and houses have long gone. I perch on a prostrate stone gate post for a sheltered lunch before another exposed section across open moor.

Pikeston Fell easy walking, hard walking

Pikeston Fell easy walking, hard walking

A track across to Meeting of the Grains is surprisingly well worn but the path as shown on the map is invisible across Pikeston Fell which remains as our guide tells “absolutely featureless”, except for parcels of heather that have been mown. This management offers some easy walking through the recently mown patches but sadly they do not correspond with the line of the path. I’m startled as a bird suddenly flies up in front of me leaving three tiny chicks to fend for themselves with just the young heather for camouflage.

Webmaster at Pikeston Trig.

Webmaster at Pikeston Trig.

At last the Trig point comes into view and I breath a sigh of relief because grass, fields and buildings are now close by and Stanhope soon comes into view. Dropping down into Weardale I pass under two lines of overhead cables similar to those serving the cement works at Hope in Derbyshire, could these have a similar purpose?

Easy road walking to White Kirkley

Easy road walking to White Kirkley

Lambs large and small are in the fields and one instead of turning away and running to mum comes to me looking for a feed while mum looks on from a distance. The path continues to drop towards the river and all the time to my left mining spoil heaps alter the natural contours of the hill side.

Stanhope station offers refreshment to weary walkers

Stanhope station offers refreshment to weary walkers

The GEW and Weardale Way meet the road at Railway Terrace a row of houses with no other purpose than to serve the line immediately behind them. The mineral line is now the Weardale Railway offering a passenger service for residents and tourists. The station at Stanhope requires the line to cross two substantial bridges across the river to provide a convenient location close to the village. The buildings offer an attractive terminus having been restored to their former glory complete with platform canopy and buffet so I pause for tea and cake while the train departs for a final trip of the day to Bishop Auckland.

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Great English Walk map of section 33

Great English Walk map of section 33

 

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 33

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 33

 


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