Distance: 42.5 miles | Profile: Hilly | Surface: Mixed | Grade: Intermediate
Start/Finish: A167/A691 roundabout nr Sniperley Park, Durham, Co. Durham (NZ 260439)
The blue line in the map above represents the trail at the centre of the section. Scroll or drag to see more.
Leaving from the usual place, this route heads west along the Lanchester Valley to Langley Park and onto the Lanchester Valley railway path. After reaching the village of Lanchester itself it takes to quiet lanes to intersect the busy A68 near Rowley Station before joining the exposed track of the Waskerley Way that is part of the popular C2C cycling route which crosses County Durham.
After a long, steep descent on the road into Stanhope, the route turns east. It undulates gently along Weardale, passing through Frosterley to Wolsingham from where it begins a succession of steep climbs back onto the ridge of the West Durham Coalfield at Inkerman near Tow Law. Usually benefiting from a tailwind at this point, more undulations follow along with a short, sharp climb before making the descent back to the Lanchester Valley after which only a brief climb remains before the finish.
The route utilises sections of two popular railway paths, one sheltered and one – the Waskerley Way – very exposed, where headwinds over the moors can make for tough going. The Waskerley Way section is part of the historic Stanhope and Tyne branch line that was eventually taken over by the Stockton and Darlington Railway. The entire route entwines with remnants of West Durham industry including railways, quarries and iron foundries and there are also reminders of the county’s Roman heritage.
From the roundabout, head west on the A691, turning left at the second roundabout, towards Langley Park. Just before the village, turn R onto the Lanchester Valley railway path. Continue on the railway path to Lanchester. Cross the first main road through the village and continue on the railway path. At the second crossing turn left and continue on the road (Newbiggin Lane) for four miles, climbing past New House Farm and the Roman dam to the third crossroads.
Turn right at the crossroads and continue on Longedge Lane to the junction with the A68 above Rowley Station. Cross the A68 and continue to the intersection of the Waskerley Way not far past the farm at Whitehall. Turn left onto the Waskerley Way and continue past Waskerley Farm to the cafe at Park Head. At the cafe, bear right, off the Waskerley Way and follow the track to the road. Turn left and continue on the road into Stanhope. Take care on what is a long descent that steepens dramatically at Crawleyside.
Turn left at the T-junction in Stanhope and continue on the A689 along Weardale, passing through Frosterley and on to Wolsingham. In the centre of Wolsingham, bear left and continue out of the village on the A6296 and onto the climb of Redgate Bank. At the top, just after the ‘Duckett Cross’ continue on the A6296 then after a sharp descent, turn right and continue uphill on the lane (take care as the approach to the turn is steep: take position in the road early and be aware of vehicles rounding the blind corner ahead at speed).
Continue steeply uphill on the lane, to the junction with the A68 at Inkerman. Turn right, then left and continue on Inkerman Road, past the remains of the coking ovens, to the village of Cornsay (there is a short but sharp climb shortly before entering the village). Continue through the village to the crossroads further up the road. Turn right at the crossroads then go straight over at the next crossroads a short distance further on.
Continue through the hamlet of Wilk’s Hill, descending along the line of Dere Street to Quebec at the bottom of the hill. Through Quebec, turn left just before the road starts to climb and continue to Langley Park. Follow the road through the village to rejoin the outward leg of the route at the Lanchester Valley railway path. Return to the finish using the outward route.