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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss