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The Weardale Way – Section 05

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Distance: 7.4 km (4.6 miles) | Profile: Hilly | Going: Strenuous, exposed climb with an easy flat section to finish | General Stores: Stanhope

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Section 5 of the Weardale Way is 7.4 km (4.6 miles) from Stanhope to White Kirkley in Weardale, County Durham. From the ford and nearby Unthank Hall close to the town of Stanhope we continue (briefly) downstream alongside the River Wear. Although sheltered to begin with, this section involves a substantial climb over an exposed ridge where wind-speeds can be dramatic at times. The descent into the side valley of Bollihope is followed by an easy walk along the Bollihope Burn to the finish.

The medieval town of Stanhope, adjoining the start of the trail to the north, is the western terminus for the Weardale Railway that runs a regular heritage service along the dale calling at Frosterley (not far from the end of this section) and at Wolsingham (at the end of the next section). Amongst its other remarkable features, the town is at the heart of a concentration of large quarries (almost all of which are now abandoned) that developed to exploit a thick layer of rock known simply as the Great Limestone. The trail visits two of these quarries at Parson Byers and Fine Burn making use of the legacy of the railway network that once characterized much of the dale, before finishing at the former mining hamlet of White Kirkley.

The route to the finish uses a quiet and remote path that was created by one of the wildest private railways in the country and which was continuous with the Bishopley extension of the then Wear Valley Railway that was constructed to serve the quarry. Please be aware that there are no facilities at White Kirkley and if you are not continuing onto the next section you will need descend on the road to Frosterley.

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