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The Weardale Way – Section 01

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Distance: 6.5 km (4.1 miles) | Profile: Hilly | Going: Fairly easy on exposed tracks and trails
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Section 1 of the Weardale Way is 6.5 km (4.1 miles) from Killhope to Cowshill in Upper Weardale, County Durham. It starts from the car park at Killhope Lead Mining Museum on the Killhope Burn in Upper Weardale close to County Durham’s border with Cumbria. A forest track takes us on a long, gradual ascent to the highest point on the Weardale Way that, on a clear day offers fantastic views down the dale. Away from the shelter of the conifer plantation it is very exposed and potentially boggy – particularly around the top of Cowhorse Hush – although almost all of the remainder of the journey is on firm tracks and generally well drained trails.

Continuing down the dale, we rapidly lose height to rejoin the Killhope Burn where it meets the Wellhope Burn. We cross the Wellhope Burn via a stone bridge then visit a string of isolated dwellings that were typical of the ‘miner-farmer’ homesteads in the upper dale before descending steeply to the Killhope Burn once more at Heathery Bridge. The route now performs a bit of a dog-leg and after continuing downstream along the banks of the burn for a short distance it thrusts briefly but sharply upwards towards the other end of a small group of houses passed earlier. A steep climb over boggy ground leads to a gate and beyond that the trail continues past a pond to descend gradually to a join a track that leads to a small group of houses at Low Allers.

Through the gate at the end of the row of houses, the trail continues past the abandoned Copt Hill Quarry – now an attractive lake – that once exploited the hard dolerite of one of the few Weardale exposures of the Whin Sill (along a fault known as the Burtreeford Disturbance). The charming house at the eastern end of the quarry – Bridge End Cottage – is one of only a few pre-17th century buildings in Weardale and is an excellent contemporary development of what was originally a defensible building known as a ‘bastle’  (these buildings are much more common in neighbouring Tynedale and further north). A short distance down the trail – still alongside the burn – we arrive at Cowshill and Burtreeford Bridge which marks the finish for this section.

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