Let the river be your guide to this lonely valley

Walk of the Month: A walk through Weardale reveals two distinct characters. Mark Rowe reports

Lonely Weardale is often overlooked by visitors to the Pennines. Softer than its neighbours – Teesdale and Swaledale to the south, and Tynedale to the north – the gentle slopes of this classic Pennines valley seem to catch more daylight in winter.

The east of the valley is classic dales country, with farmsteads linked by busy overgrown villages and towns. But head further west and you will discover where the land was always worked harder, with pockmarked quarrying scars running along its rugged flanks.

This walk, roughly in the middle of the valley, allows the hiker to see both aspects and switches back and forth across the River Wear. It starts in the village of St John's Chapel. Start the walk by the war memorial and head downhill past the town hall alongside Harthope Burn to turn left across a stone footbridge, right through a gate, then diagonally across the field, waymarked as the Mineral Valleys Walk, to cross the River Wear.

Keep ahead and at a crossing of paths turn left and go over the stone stile and head half-right uphill behind a house. Keep straight ahead through a gap in the wall and through three fields to reach a group of houses. Go straight across the crossing of paths for 30 yards, then turn right up steps to cross a stile and head uphill, through a gate and uphill again, with a wood on your right, to reach a road.

Turn left and wind your way uphill. As you pass the second house, turn right through a weathered metal gate and keep going uphill again. You'll soon come to Rakes Sike, a tumbling stream. The ground is hard-going here, through crumpled and raised turf. The best route is to keep tight to the wall on the left, with the stream to your right. You'll need to squeeze over a stile at one point before following the path and wall to a stile and a paved road.

Keep ahead here and follow the path to Allercleugh farm, with superb views on all sides. After the farm, take the waymarked path half-left, cross the field to a wall gate, and then bear half-left below High Whitestones Farm to join a lane. Here, you should turn left and head downhill through Low Whitestones Farm and onwards through a field to find a gate at the bottom right-hand corner.

Cross straight over the road, following the right-of-way though the drive of the house opposite, through a gate, then follow the waymarkers right to a gate, waymarked for the Mineral Valleys Walk. Head downhill through the field, go down the steps to the left of the houses, turn right along the lane, then left over the River Wear.

Turn right, following the Weardale Way. This is a beautiful section following the broad river across several fields and through one enclosed lane to reach Wearhead, where the two tributaries of the Wear converge.

Cross over the road and keep ahead, sign-posted for the treatment works and bear right through a gate and follow the Wear again and then Burnhope Burn though a delightful section, hemmed in by a high bank to the left.

Climb up to the field, walk through it to a footbridge where you turn left rather than cross it. In front of the farmhouse, turn left through the gate then half-right across the field to another gate. Cross the road, go through the gate and bear half-left to a gate then straight ahead over the mound to another gate before making for a field-gate in the top corner below deserted Low Rigg Farm.

Keep ahead, passing the farm ruins, then immediately turn left through a gate before bearing half-right to Irestone, where steps take you over a stile.

Walk around the front of the houses and bear half-right towards the wood, where more slate steps take you over the wall and through the wood. Keep straight ahead through gates for half a mile until you reach a gate to the right of houses that leads down to a small lane.

Turn left and follow the lane into Ireshopeburn, where you keep ahead along the A689. Walk right through the village and turn left, sign-posted for New House, in front of the Weardale Museum (which will remain closed until Easter).

Cross Coronation Bridge and turn right to follow the riverside path. Keep to this path for a mile – you will pass a ford and bear left through a farm on the way – to reach the crossing of the paths that you encountered at the start of the walk.

Here, turn right and cross the bridge over the Wear for the last time to reach St John's Chapel.

Compact Facts

Distance: Six miles

Time: Three hours

OS Map: OL31 North Pennines

Further information

Mark Rowe stayed at Bradley Burn Cottages, Wolsingham, Weardale (bradleyburn.co.uk), which offers self-catering cottages from £210 per week. Short breaks are also available. For more information on walking in County Durham, go to visitcountydurham.com/site/outdoor-activities/walking.

Win a walking holiday for two to the Lake District, courtesy of The Outdoors Show and Ramblers Worldwide, including seven nights' accommodation, all meals and guided walks. To enter, go to OutdoorsShowExtra.co.uk/lakes

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent