Stanhope – Park Head – Rookhope – Stanhope

12.5 miles through a former semi-industrial landscape now left to nature. The route initially climbs out of Stanhope following the former Stanhope and Tyne Railway line before heading west at Park Head station (now a tea room and a starting point for the Waskerley Way). Now following the line of the former Rookhope and Weatherill Railway the path follows that of the C2C, Lake to Lake and Durham Round, cutting through swathes of grouse moors steadily climbing up to the summit above Rookhope at Bolt’s Law where the derelict buildings have little stories left of their involvement in hauling the mineral wagons up the hill under steam power. It’s an area that W.H. Auden came back to many times and it is in his poetry and the work of local historians that the real stories stay alive. From here there is a steep descent into Rookhope via the Rookhope or Bolt’s Law Incline. Refresh in Rookhope at the Rookhope Inn, stay over at the Barrington Bunkhouse or simply use the public toilets all at the base of the incline, or, as I did, follow Front Street south out of the village before taking a right turn up out of the valley by-passing St. John’s Church. This road (or should that be track?) heads up and over into Weardale-proper providing great views of the surrounding countryside and bird’s-eye views of Eastgate and then Stanhope. After too much tarmac-stomping the road joins up with the A689 next to the caravan park and a right turn leads you back into Stanhope by way of a roadside footpath. Time to put your feet up – perhaps a pint at the Pack Horse Inn (I can recommend the Bombardier) in the Market Place or something to eat across the road at the Everyday Cafe. You’ve earned it.

Further information:

Park Head Station and the Stanhope and Tyne Railway