Sunday, 10 February 2019

Willington to Escomb - Weardale Way 6 Feb 2019

Willington to Escomb 
Weardale Way 
Distance 22km Climb 240m 
Wednesday 6 February 2019 

I had walked from Shincliffe to Willington in June 2017, that was my fourth part of my 124 km Weardale Way shown on the LDWA website. Today was my fifth day on the Way and I was going to walk a little further.

I was trying to walk the route by just following any signs I could see, it was an adventure and I was not too bothered where I wandered. I had looked at the route on the LDWA website so roughly had an idea where I would be heading. The large River Wear would be my natural navigation. 

I started at the Jubilee Meadows Park, Willington where I had stopped for my sandwiches on my last walk on the Way. Before leaving the carpark I picked up my first Geocache of the day. Returning to the River I walked by the north side of the River Wear, I followed it as it headed north west. 

It was a bright sunny day although a little cold. In places where the sun had reached the path it had melted the ice and it was slippery mud. Where it was still frozen it was slippery ice and on a few occasions I was glad to have my walking poles. I continued by the River as it turned south west, soon it would be headed due south.

I saw a large sign showing I was now on the Ian Bell Memorial Walk. I didn't know anything about this until I got home and looked it up on the internet. Ian was a young boy who had been swept away in the River when it was swollen, a number of years ago. It was a very sad and tragic event.

Ignoring a footbridge over the River I continued along what was now the western bank. After approximately a couple of km I was passing Furness Mill Farm. The path now enters a wood, after a few hundred meters it crosses a stream by a narrow footbridge and up the steep side of what I would call a dingly dell. It was lovely and the colours of the fallen leaves mixed with the ground and the green of the bushes was lovely. I had to take care going up as it was very slippery.

At the top the Way leaves the wood and heads around open fields before crossing to a collection of a few houses.

At the road a sign for the Way directed me left, east. After approximately 300m I reached this style and totally did my own thing, I crossed the style and followed the edge of the field around to the left, missing a kissing gate on the road which was the right way to go. I could see Bishop Auckland down to my right but the path took me left.

I followed the field edge and at the bottom had to walk through a large wet muddy area being watched by a few horses and I could see they were wondering what I was doing.

Anyway back on the proper path I reached a Way sign near Farnley. Which pointed down a track due south. It was wet muddy and very slippery along the track and again I was glad of my walking poles. Crossing a field full of curious horses I could see the built up floodbank, used to protect the plain, very much like what I had seen on other parts of the Way and I thought had this been built by the 14th century monks who had build the floodbank at Houghall

At the end of the field the Way turns from the River slightly and follows the edge of open fields skirting a wood that follows the River. 

When I got home I checked out my walk on my maps, I was amazed to see that near here I crossed the route of Dere Street a famous Roman Road that travels from York to Scotland. I had crossed this on another walk a lot further north. The Pennine Way. 

From the end of the field the path narrows and I could see a new tall green fence with Bishop Auckland not too far in the distance.

The Weardale Way took me beside this fence which was the site of the world famous Kynren. It was easy walking here a loose stone path led me south.  

I soon saw the Newton Cap Viaduct. After passing the end of the Kynren site the Way turns right, west slightly.

Near some cottages passing under the Viaduct and up onto a road. I turned left and crossed a narrow road bridge. Looking across I could see the arches of the Viaduct and they do look impressive. 

Crossing the bridge I could see a Weardale Way sign up the road on my right.

The Way turned right, south west towards the rugby club. I had a short rest and had a cup of red hot drinking chocolate. That flask was a good buy.

I followed the road as it passed the rugby club and onward to the end of the lane, after crossing the style I took the slippery path uphill. At the top there was a number of paths heading to my right into a small wooded area. I was hit by a very sharp shower which did not last very long, but enough for me to think about putting my waterproofs on.

I had climbed too far, rather than following the River I found myself next too the railway line, so I found a path that led me down hill back to the River. In parts it was still frozen and other places it was very wet and I was again glad I had my walking poles.

Following by the River after a few hundred meters a sign for the Way led me away from the River on a path by a rust coloured stream.

At the top of the rusty stream the path crossed a style then a turn north through the trees led me to open fields. I could see Escomb over the hedges as I returned to the River walking north then west.

Crossing a couple of fields and a small paddock with some horses I reached a footpath. A left turn, south south west up the footpath and I reached the edge of Escomb.

Following the road around I saw the Saxon Church of Escomb. Where after I had read the local notices I decided to stop in the church yard for my jam sandwiches and a couple of drinks of hot chocolate.

Sitting there I spotted a couple of interesting looking grave stones. The notices suggest looking out for Roman stones used in the making of the church and reports this as the oldest complete Saxon Church in the country.

After my break I had a look around the outside of the church to see some of the features highlighted on the notice. It was then time to head back.

I returned to the River and turned right, retracing my steps.

On my way back as I passed the rugby club I had a quick look for another Geocache in the area. Unfortunately I could not find this one.

Moving on, when I reached the road I turned right and climbed the hill onto the Newton Gap Viaduct. Where I found this Geocache.

From the top of the Viaduct I could see for miles and collected another Geocache near the main entrance to Kynren.

I continued along the footpath for a few hundred meters before dropping down the edge of a field back onto the Weardale Way, the path I had walked in on. Allowing me to follow the same route back only in reverse.

I spotted clumps of small snowdrops all over on my walk, they were lovely.

A couple of large swans flew overhead with there deep honking noise, a fantastic sight.

When I reached Farnley I followed the sign up along the road, instead of walking the edge of the field, as I had previously, on my way out. It was the right way and a better way to walk. At the top I followed the signs right across a field and round back into the wood. Across the flat of the field I could see a large number of molehills. Strange I hadn't noticed on my walk up the hill but they were set up in large circles across the field.

Entering the wood I was soon looking down into the dingly dell. It was very slippery going down here and I had to take my time.

Back passed Furness Mill Farm and the footbridge.

Where I turned away from the River to see if I could collect a couple more Geocaches. I collected this one at Sunnybrow.

I continued walking through Willington, I only had a short time to look for the Geocache near here before moving on. I did not find it.

Wandering around a few streets I came to the War Memorial.

Where I took the path from the road as it twisted and turns down hill. At the bottom I crossed the field towards the River.  

After a few hundred meters I was back at the carpark. It had been a good day, I had collected 4 out of 6 Geocaches. Walked 22km with a 240m climb. The weather had stayed fine so an excellent day all round.

More to follow

Boz North
Details correct at time of writing.
Follow link to my previous walk on the Weardale Way Shincliffe to Willington.
Follow link to my next walk on the Weardale Way Escomb to Sandy Bank Cottage (NZ 136 336)