Weardale

Weardale is a spectacular dale with historic settlements, great attractions and exhilarating landscapes to discover.

Weardale has a fascinating history which is brought to life by two award winning museums: Killhope, the North of England Lead Mining Museum; and the Weardale Museum and High House Chapel. Hamsterley Forest is also on the doorstep, with 2,000 hectares of woodland's offering numerous mountain biking, walking and horse riding trails to suit all abilities. If you would rather sit back and enjoy the scenery then take a trip on the Weardale Railway which runs between Stanhope and Bishop Auckland. To discover what else Weardale has to offer click on the map and start exploring!


Cowshill to Killhope

Killhope Wheel © Killhope Lead Mining Museum/David Williams
This walk is a natural extension to the Weardale Way. The trail weaves its way from the small village of Cowshill through scattered farms in the upper dale, typical of the miner-farmer landscape, before entering a conifer woodland surrounding the Killhope Lead Mining museum. Killhope Lead Mining Museum visitor centre is wheelchair accessible, has accessible toilets and a wheelchair accessible wildlife hide, a great spot to see Red Squirrels!
Location:
Starting from Cowshill or Killhope Lead Mining Museum.
Distance:
7 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Dark Sky Discovery Site - Parkhead Station

 © Beck Baker
Parkhead station is one of the first five Dark Sky Discovery Sites in the North Pennines AONB to be designated. It has been recognised as a great place for amateur and professional astronomers to stargaze. With wide open views of the horizon and a location away from the light pollution of towns and cities, the skies are incredibly dark. Under a clear night sky, the major constellations can be seen and the Milky Way is also visible to the naked eye. The café is a converted railway station with a rich industrial history. Find out more on the website (www.parkheadstation.co.uk). Now it is a feature along a traffic free section of the Waskerley Way, just off the C2C cycle route which means astronomers are not going to be disturbed or interrupted by the glare of headlights from passing vehicles. During organised stargazing events, the café offers some warmth and sustenance and a place to discuss recent astronomical news and sightings.
Location:
Located on the B6278, 3 miles north of Stanhope, 10 miles from Consett.
Terrain:
Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Frosterley Marble

Frosterley Marble © NPAP/Elizabeth Pickett
These three walks look at some of the old quarrying remains of Frosterley and their effects on the landscape here in Weardale. Each walk follows the same outward journey from Frosterley Station on the Weardale Railway.
Location:
Starting from outside the Village Hall.
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:
Download:

Hamsterley Forest

Hamsterley Forest © Forestry Commission
County Durham's largest forest is a mixture of woodland, meadows and forest. There are excellent walking, cycling and horse riding trails for all abilities. The forest also has a childrens' adventure playground, tea room, cycle hire, shop and downhill mountain bike course. The Forestry Commission organise an annual events programme including nature walks, fungal forays and bushcraft activities.
Location:
Hamsterley
Area:
Facilities nearby

Hay Time Walk 2: Weardale

Path to the hay meadows in Ireshopeburn © NPAP/Gearoid Murphy
Take a 2 hour walk in Weardale, a landscape that has been farmed and mined for centuries. This five kilometre walk close to Ireshopeburn crosses some beautiful meadows, with superb views of the surrounding moorland and villages in the dale below. The best time to go is between April and August to catch the wildflowers in full bloom. It is still a worthwhile walk outside of these times due to presence of late blooming flowers can be seen in mid Autumn and wading birds in the Spring.
Location:
Starting from a small parking area in Ireshopeburn.
Distance:
5 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:

High House Chapel

High House Chapel © Weardale Museum
Historic Methodist Chapel - High House Chapel, Ireshopeburn, is the oldest purpose built Methodist chapel in the world to have been in continuous weekly use since it was built in 1760. Writing in his book England’s Thousand Best Churches Simon Jenkins said “This is the country where the fires of Methodism took hold, fanned by an absentee Anglicanism. There are many chapels in these parts, many are early and handsome and Ireshopeburn is the best.” His chapel and society in Weardale became one of John Wesley’s favourites and the story of Methodism is well told in the folk museum next door. The chapel is open to the public during museum hours 2-5pm, Wed-Sunday, May 1st - October 31st and every afternoon in August. Also Easter and bank holidays. Services are held every Sunday at 10.45am
Location:
Ireshopeburn, Co. Durham, DL131HD.
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Killhope - The North Of England Lead Mining Museum

Washing Floor at Killhope © Killhope
A visit to Killhope, the award winning North of England Lead Mining Museum, is a unique and unforgettable experience. Killhope is a fully restored nineteenth century Victorian lead mine, where you can experience for yourself the life and work of the lead mining families of the Pennine dales. Our enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff are here to help you get the most from your visit; they are what make Killhope a multi award wining venue. Killhope is famous for its huge working waterwheel, but there is much more to Killhope. You can experience the mineshop where miners lived. You can work as a "washerboy" looking for minerals and galena (which is the lead ore). You can see the working machinery (which Fred Dibnah admired so much) in the "jigger house". But above all, Killhope's award-winning mine tour is unique. From the moment you put on your hard hats, cap-lamps and wellingtons, your visit becomes an unforgettable adventure! Killhope holds the largest collection of Spar Boxes which sits alongside Magnificent Minerals and the Pennine Jewels. Two permanent commissions, Letters of Lead and Language of Lead, part of museumaker, a prestigious national project. We also have an array of art works and installations which adorn our visitor centre and site. You can stroll round Killhope's woodland paths (maybe with a nature backpack). You will see some wildlife and Red Squirrels. Take a break in "Killhope Cafe" where Pip serves up wonderful home made soups, pasties and cakes. Our gift shop stocks a wide range of books, maps, keepsakes and souvenirs. Killhope - A Great Day Out in the Country for all the family! Open Daily during half term 16th - 24th February 2013 - 10.30am - 5.00pm. Open Daily 29th March - 3rd November 2013 10.30am - 5.00pm
Location:
Near Cowshill, Upper Weardale, Co. Durham, DL13 1AR.
Terrain:
Steep sections
Area:
Facilities nearby

Low Barns Nature Reserve

Red Kite © www.brianraffertywildlifephotographer/blogspot.com
Low Barns is a valuable wetland reserve and one of County Durham’s most important wildlife sites, located adjacent to the River Wear. The reserve has become important for wildlife due to the wide range of habitats including wet woodland, grassland, open water and river side, which are home to many different types of birds, mammals, plants and insects. However, Low Barns has not always been a haven for local wildlife. Originally farmland, the site underwent sand and gravel extraction until 1964 when the area was given to Durham Wildlife Trust and restored as a nature reserve. In 2003 a redundant sewage treatment works on the site was replaced with a new reedbed habitat and a boardwalk which enabled public access with minimal disturbance to wildlife. The site’s flat terrain and large accessible bird hides make it an ideal place to visit for everyone. The Visitor Centre has a coffee shop that sells light refreshments, books, gifts, locally made bird boxes and a full range of bird food and feeders from the award winning Vine House Farms. The centre and bird hides provide a wealth of information on how Low Barns was created and the wildlife it supports. Screens in the centre show images from the bird feeding station and bird boxes around the site, and there is a display of wildlife photography provided by the Low Barns Photography Group.
Location:
Durham Wildlife Trust, Low Barns Nature Reserve, Witton-le-Wear, Bishop Auckland, County Durham DL14 0AG.
Terrain:
Off road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

North Pennine Birdwalks Walk 13: Howden Burn

Lapwing © NPAP
Passing through grassland and up onto heather moorland, this walk provides splendid views across the open uplands and down to the Bollihope Burn. It is a fine area to watch wading birds during the breeding season when the air is filled with their songs and displays. Redstart, great spotted woodpecker, tits and warblers can also be seen or heard in the riverside woodland.
Location:
Starting on short turf at roadside beside the Bollihope Burn.
Distance:
3 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Access:
Recreation opportunities:

North Pennine Birdwalks Walk 7: Burnhope Head

Merlin © NPAP
Even in the depths of winter the heather moorland at Burnhope Head is home to large numbers of red grouse. Seeming to catapult from the heather in display whilst giving their loud “get back, get back” call, red grouse are a dramatic sight. During spring and summer their numbers are swelled by a multitude of breeding waders and the moorland seems to burst with life. With sweeping views all around, this is always an impressive walk.
Location:
Starting from the large lay-by near Dead Friars Stone.
Distance:
5 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Access:
Recreation opportunities:

North Pennine Birdwalks Walk 8: Cowshill

Short-eared owl © NPAP
The pastures and allotments in Upper Weardale form a distinctive fringe around the edge of the heather moorland. Typically tussocky with clumps of rushes, these grasslands are an important nesting habitat for wading birds and large numbers can be seen and heard during the breeding season. The adjacent moorland is home to red grouse and golden plover and may sometimes be graced by the presence of a short-eared owl.
Location:
Starting from the car park at Cowshill
Distance:
2 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

River Wear fishing

Fly fishing tackle © NPAP/Simon Wilson
Fishing for brown trout, sea trout and salmon between Eastgate and Stanhope Guaging Station is available with a day ticket from the Weardale Fly Fishers Club. Permits from Stanhope Newsagents, Stanhope, Weardale. Don't forget your Environment Agency rod licence.
Location:
Stanhope
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Access:
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Rookhope: Fields and Fells

Rookhope © NPAP/Shane Harris
The town of Rookhope and its surrounding environs are littered with the remains of its once prosperous mining industry such as the Rookhope arch and Bolts Law engine house. This austere landscape inspired poet W H Auden to write some of his earliest work. Nowadays Rookhope supports fascinating upland flora and fauna and a small tourist industry as a stop off on the C2C cycle route. You can discover these and more interesting facets of Rookhope in this series of circular walks.
Location:
Starting from Rookhope Village Hall.
Distance:
8 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Access:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

School Explorers

School Explorers provide single or multi day bespoke adventure and outdoor education programmes in the North Pennines. Our programmes are individually tailored to meet the needs of schools and youth groups, from reception age to year 13 and older. Our peripatetic approach enables us to source and package the ideal learning experience. The School Explorer’s team is a group of highly skilled, experienced and qualified outdoor practitioners with a keen emphasis on creativity and a desire to help all young people explore not just the wilderness around them but also the learning that can be achieved through these experiences. Choose from our many established options of camping, accommodation in bunk houses, farm stays or even wild bush craft camps. Programmes include: bush craft, adventure journeys, climbing, team building challenges, hillwalking and expeditions. School Explorers are AALA licensed and hold the Quality Badge from the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.
Area:
Interests:

Slitt Wood and West Rigg Geotrail

Slitt Wood waterfall © NPAP/Elizabeth Pickett
This route reveals much about the area’s geology, which is strongly linked to this little valley’s industrial past. You will see where lead and iron ores were mined and processed and how the ores were transported out of the valley. Slitt Wood and West Rigg Opencut are legally protected as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Slitt Wood is designated for its variety of habitats including woodland, lime-rich grassland, fen, open water and the revegetated workings of Slitt and Middlehope Mines. Many different types of plants and birds can be spotted at different times of year, including metal tolerant plants known as metallophytes. West Rigg is designated for its geological importance. It provides an excellent illustration of the formation of iron ore and the opencast ironstone workings which expose the structure of a lead vein. Many of the industrial remains also have legal protection as scheduled monuments of national archaeological importance.
Location:
Starting from the lay-by in Westgate.
Distance:
5 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

St John's Chapel: Farming, Mining and Methodism

Coronation Bridge in Ireshopeburn, Weardale © NPAP/Gearoid Murphy
This walk traces the history of three neighbouring villages Daddry Shield, St Johns Chapel and Ireshopeburn. From their origins as farming settlements, through to the expansion of the mining industry in the mid 19th Century and the associated rises in population and conversion of locals to Methodism, this region has witnessed dramatic changes which have left their mark on the landscape of the upper dale. This walk tells the story of these developments while pointing out historic buildings and events associated with them.The walk was devised and described by volunteers of The Weardale Museum (www.weardalemuseum.co.uk), Ireshopeburn, where much more information can be found.
Location:
Starting from the Weardale Inn or St John Chapel Cattle Market car park.
Distance:
11 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Stanhope: Exploring a legacy of lead

The fossil tree in Stanhope © NPAP/Shane Harris
Lead mining was the dominant industry in Stanhope for over two hundred years. It created the employment and wealth to form a well-to-do small market town with a thriving parish church with ‘the richest living in England’ due to the tithes (rent) paid to the Rectors of Stanhope in return for the rights to explore and dig for lead. Stanhope owes most of its former wealth to the lead mining era with quarrying and coal mining making significant contributions to the employment opportunities. These three short walks around Stanhope will explore this mining legacy
Location:
Starting from the Durham Dales Centre car park in Stanhope.
Terrain:
Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:

Stanhope: Route 1

Trees at Allenheads © NPAP/Elizabeth Pickett
This leaflet describes four routes of various lengths that can be started from the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope. The four routes are designed as a series of loops of varying length radiating out from Stanhope. Each route provides a glimpse into the past, with remnants of the lead mining industry dotted around the Weardale Valley. These cycle routes also offer nature enthusiast’s opportunities to see many of the famous plants and animals associated with the North Pennines, like the wildflower rich hay meadows in the valley bottom and the large populations of waders and grouse up on the surrounding moors.
Location:
Starting and finishing in the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope.
Distance:
39 km
Terrain:
On road sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:

Stanhope: Route 2

Rookhope Arch © Natural England/Charlie Hedley
This leaflet describes four routes of various lengths that can be started from the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope. The four routes are designed as a series of loops of varying length radiating out from Stanhope. Each route provides a glimpse into the past, with remnants of the lead mining industry dotted around the Weardale Valley. These cycle routes also offer nature enthusiast’s opportunities to see many of the famous plants and animals associated with the North Pennines, like the wildflower rich hay meadows in the valley bottom and the large populations of waders and grouse up on the surrounding moors.
Location:
Starting and finishing in the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope.
Distance:
30 km
Terrain:
On road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:

Stanhope: Route 3

Church in Stanhope © NPAP/Shane Harris
This leaflet describes four routes of various lengths that can be started from the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope. The four routes are designed as a series of loops of varying length radiating out from Stanhope. Each route provides a glimpse into the past, with remnants of the lead mining industry dotted around the Weardale Valley. These cycle routes also offer nature enthusiast’s opportunities to see many of the famous plants and animals associated with the North Pennines, like the wildflower rich hay meadows in the valley bottom and the large populations of waders and grouse up on the surrounding moors.
Location:
Starting and finishing in the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope.
Distance:
25 km
Terrain:
On road sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:

Stanhope: Route 4

Back road between Stanhope and Rookhope © NPAP/Shane Harris
This leaflet describes four routes of various lengths that can be started from the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope. The four routes are designed as a series of loops of varying length radiating out from Stanhope. Each route provides a glimpse into the past, with remnants of the lead mining industry dotted around the Weardale Valley. These cycle routes also offer nature enthusiast’s opportunities to see many of the famous plants and animals associated with the North Pennines, like the wildflower rich hay meadows in the valley bottom and the large populations of waders and grouse up on the surrounding moors.
Location:
Starting and finishing in the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope.
Distance:
16 km
Terrain:
On road sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:

Take a closer look into Ashes Quarry Stanhope

Ashes Quarry above Stanhope in Weardale © NPAP/Neil Diment
Here, for 70 years and more, hundreds of men toiled by hand with simple tools to dig the Great Limestone out of the Weardale fells, just a short distance from the centre of Stanhope. They left behind a huge, mile-long hole in the ground which today, over 60 years since they downed tools, nature is slowly reclaiming. This 2-mile circular route follows the paths the quarrymen would have once taken to work. It rewards a bit of a climb at the start with fantastic views over Stanhope and a fascinating insight into Weardale's industrial past.
Location:
Starting from the Durham Dales Centre car park in Stanhope.
Distance:
3 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:

Taste Trails: Bradley Burn to Stanhope

Walkers in Weardale © NPAP/Shane Harris
This walking route is a linear trail that takes you along the course of the river Wear. You can return to the starting point using the train or bus. The route is an excellent way to experience the beauty of the dale that nestles below the open moors of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while indulging in some great local food. Along the way you will pass through the pastoral lamb and cattle producing farmland of the dale. Remnants of the quarrying and mining heritage of the area lies all around as you follow the River Wear upstream. This route starts at Bradley Burn Farm Shop and Café, near Wolsingham and follows mainly rights of way alongside the Weardale Railway and the River Wear. There are a number of great places along the way to stop for a bite to eat and a brew. Stanhope, Frosterley and Wolsingham are also good places to join the route and it can be done in shorter sections.
Location:
Starting from Bradley Burn Farm Shop.
Distance:
15 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:

The Durham Dales Centre

Durham Dales Centre  © NPAP/Emily Ball
The Durham Dales Centre is a visitor centre in Weardale with a tearoom specialising in home baking and with a well stocked information centre and gift shop. Other shops are set within a courtyard offering a wide range of cards, chocolate, gifts and crafts. On site facilities include the Durham Dales garden, with interpretation panels throughout the grounds. Coaches welcome.
Location:
Castle Gardens, Stanhope, Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham, DL13 2FJ.
Area:
Recreation opportunities:

The Harehope Quarry Project

A view of Harehope Quarry © Tom Mercer
The Harehope Quarry Project promotes a more sustainable way of living and is a Gold Award holder in the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS). Within a former limestone quarry, the project has developed a fish farm and smallholding, a nature reserve with public access and an eco-classroom built entirely by volunteers. The project has a community events programme and delivers environmental education, field studies and education for sustainable development. The eco-classroom can also be booked for meetings, green birthday parties and other events. In addition there walks ranging from 1km to 4km using permissive paths and Rights of Way around the quarry. Story walk leaflets are available as well as information about the Harehope Quarry Project. Note on site parking is limited, however the quarry is a short walk from Frosterley where additional parking is available.
Location:
Frosterley, Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham, DL13 2SG.
Terrain:
Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Area:

Tow Law, Thornley & Harperley

Inquisitive cattle © NPAP/Rebecca Barrett
The walk starts from the track through Barracks Farm (probably the oldest building in Tow Law), following tracks, over fields and pasture and crossing stiles and gates along the way. The route descends gradually from 1000ft above sea level at Tow Law to 400ft at Low Harperley where it links up with the Weardale Way.
Location:
Starting from Barracks Farm in Tow Law.
Distance:
5 km
Terrain:
Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Tunstall Reservoir Walk

Backstone Bank wood beside Tunstall Reservoir © NPAP/Ruth Starr-Keddle
Tunstall reservoir is located within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has an excellent walk along its eastern edge through a semi-natural ancient broadleaved woodland, known as Blackstone Wood. The Tunstall reservoir walk is not only a very scenic and relaxing walk but once in the woodland offers the chance to view a variety of wildlife, including several species of waterfowl and butterflies.
Location:
At the picnic site on Leazes Lane on the western side of the reservoir.
Distance:
3 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Access:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Walking around Wolsingham

Hay meadow in Wolsingham © NPAP/Rebecca Barrett
There are many interesting walks leading from the historic town of Wolsingham. These lead to quarries, farms, shafts, mills, and mark out an intricate pattern of journeys to work made over hundreds of years by generations of the people working in Weardale.
Location:
Starting from Wolsingham Railway Station.
Terrain:
Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Weardale Museum

Weardale Museum © Weardale Museum
“Outstanding Volunteer Run Museum” – but don’t take our word for it, this is the verdict of Renaissance North East and the Arts Council for England who have also awarded the museum full accreditation. This small folk museum is packed with fascinating stories from the past including a hands on lead-miner’s kitchen and The Weardale Tapestry, a beautiful 16 foot free-style embroidery depicting Weardale’s history. The Museum houses a truly amazing genealogy resource which can print out family trees for those with Weardale ancestry. Visit also the historic and beautiful High House Chapel, the oldest Methodist Chapel to have held continuous weekly services since it was built in 1760, and one of John Wesley’s favourite chapels. Open 2-5pm, Wed-Sunday, May 1st - October 31st and every afternoon in August. Also Easter and bank holidays.
Location:
Ireshopeburn, Co. Durham, DL13 1HD.
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Weardale Railway

Steam train, Stanhope Station, Weardale Railway ©
The Weardale Railway runs from Stanhope to Bishop Auckland and stations in between. The railway runs a heritage timetable and has a number of special events through the year, including steam services. There is a ticket office, café and shop at Stanhope Station.
Location:
Stanhope
Area:
Recreation opportunities:

Weardale Ski Club

Snowboarding at Weardale Ski Club © www.jamiecummingsphotography.com
With 2 Poma ski lifts serving 6 pisted runs and a large club hut, the Weardale Ski Club on Swinhope Fell above Westgate in Weardale is a great North Pennines venue for skiing and snowboarding. Day membership is available on week days.
Location:
Westgate
Area:
Access:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Weardale Way - Cowshill to Westgate

Weardale Way marker © NPAP/Gearoid Murphy
This walk starts in high North Pennine village of Cowshill and travels down Weardale to Westgate following the course of the River Wear. Along the way you will pass the pretty villages of Wearhead, Ireshopeburn, St Johns Chapel and Daddry Shield. Some of the highlights of the walk include Coronation Bridge, built to commemorate the crowning of Queen Victoria, and the upland hay meadows at East Blackdene.
Location:
Starting from the car park at Cowshill.
Distance:
8 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Weardale Way - Eastgate to Stanhope

Stanhope Bridge © NPAP/Gearoid Murphy
This is a short walk which is sandwiched between the Weardale Railway line and the River Wear. If you are not pressed for time the walk could be extended by doing a loop of Ashes Quarry which has commanding views of Stanhope. Also of interest is the fossilised remains of an ancient tree which can be found in front of St Thomas's Church in Stanhope. The tree was brought to Stanhope in 1962 from a quarry in Edmundbyers and it is believed to be 320 million years old.
Location:
Starting at crossroads in Eastgate.
Distance:
4 km
Terrain:
Off road sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Weardale Way - Stanhope to White Kirkley

Footbridge over the Bollihope Burn © NPAP/Gearoid Murphy
Beginning in Stanhope the walk takes you across several burns and through a number of disused limestone quarries to reach the small hamlet of White Kirkley which sits above Frosterley. Limestone has been quarried from the valley sides around Frosterley since the 12th century but it was in the 1800s that the village became an important centre for limestone quarrying. Limestone has many uses - as a road stone, agricultural lime, for flux in the iron and steel industry and for cement. A special type of limestone is found in Frosterley; this fossil-rich stone, known as Frosterley marble, can be polished to a high shine. The most famous use of Frosterley marble is in Durham Cathedral. Here, the ceiling of the Chapel of the Nine Altars is supported by slender columns of this unusual stone.
Location:
Starting from the lay-by, near Unthank Farm, in Stanhope.
Distance:
7 km
Terrain:
Off road sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:

Weardale Way - Westgate to Eastgate via Rookhope

Wildflowers in Ashy Bank wood near Eastgate © NPAP/Gearoid Murphy
The second section of the Weardale Way involves a fairly steep climb up Heights Pasture, above Westgate, before dropping down into the old mining village of Rookhope. The famed poet WH Auden once visited Rookhope as a child and he drew inspiration for many of his works from the North Pennine landscape. From Rookhope the trail heads back down into the Wear Valley following the Rookhope Burn all the way to small village of Eastgate. Eastgate marks the boundary of the former woodland where the Prince Bishops of Durham hunted deer.
Location:
Starting from the car park at Haswicks in Westgate.
Distance:
13 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Weardale Way - White Kirkley to Wolsingham

View over Harehope Quarry © NPAP/Gearoid Murphy
From White Kirkley the walk takes you above Harehope Quarry, which is now run as a workers co-operative offering environmental education and rural skills training. The path then climbs up over Harvey Hill to the edge of the grouse moors where you may see Red Grouse among the heather. The trail then drops down towards Wolsingham passing through a patch of ancient woodland at Ashes Beck. Note there are no facilities or parking spaces at White Kirkley, these are available in either Frosterley or Wolsingham.
Location:
Starting from White Kirkley.
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Wearhead: The River Wear starts here

Brown Hare © Brian Rafferty/www.brianraffertywildlifephotographer.blogspot.co.uk/
Wearhead sits at the confluence of Burnhope Burn and Killhope Burn, which combine to create the River Wear. The first people here were probably farmers who leased their land from the Prince Bishops of Durham and as the century's past more families moved into the area to mine the rich seams of lead ore, creating the modern village. This walk takes you around this pretty part of Weardale and it can be extended, if you wish, by doing a loop around Burnhope Reservoir.
Location:
Starting from Wearhead Bridge.
Distance:
1 km
Terrain:
Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

WoodnWheels

Mountain Biking at Hamsterley Forest © K Gibson/NPAP
Wood n Wheels are the only licenced cycle hire centre in Hamsterley forest and they have been working with the Forestry Commission for the last 6 years improving the visitor experience within the forest. They offer a full range of cycles for all the family! Hamsterley is the biggest forest in the North East and County Durham and the premier bike destination in the region. With over 5000 acres of forest to explore and over 33 miles of way marked trails. Whether its big downhill thrills in the purpose built centre, a fun filled ride on the skills training loop, or a quiet cycle with your kids, this forest has something for you to enjoy truly cycling for all-abilities. All cycle trails start by the information point opposite the Cycle Hire Centre and Shop, so cover more distance get into the more remote areas of the forest Hire a bike, discover more, experience more, enjoy more and find your full potential.
Location:
Hamsterley Forest, Redford, Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham, DL13 3NL
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

YMCA Weardale House Outdoor Education and Activity Centre

Happy climber © YMCA Weardale House
We are a specialist outdoor education and activity provider, based in the heart of the North Pennines offering climbing, abseiling, archery, canoeing, kayaking, raft building, caving, mine exploration, team building and gorge walking. We are based in Ireshopeburn (Upper Weardale) and cater for groups of up to 70 wanting to stay residentially, as well as offering day or half-day activities for small family groups wanting a personal experience. Contact: weardalehouse@btconnect.com 01388 537479
Location:
Ireshopeburn, Co. Durham, DL131HB.
Area:
Facilities nearby