The Weardale Way – Section 07
Distance: 11.4 km (7.1 miles) | Profile: Undulating | Going: Generally good, muddy in places on riverside trails, plantations and farmland | General Stores: Wolsingham [0.5k]
Section 7 of the Weardale Way is 11.4 km (7.1 miles) from Wolsingham to Witton-le-Wear in County Durham. This section is a fairly easy walk on riverside trails, forest tracks and open fields with only one climb of any significance but even that is not unduly taxing. Depending on the time of year there are one or two sections that can become extremely muddy and where the ‘workarounds’ aren’t easy.
The section starts on a good track out of Wolsingham Station and crosses the Weardale Railway shortly afterwards. Soon we cross a stile to continue over several fields before entering a lengthy section of pleasant woodland alongside the River Wear. Deciduous gives way to coniferous as the trail climbs upwards through Black Bank Plantation. Although the forest tracks make the route obvious it is easy to continue too far on the main track and miss the turn-off onto a minor track.
Assuming there are no problems with the navigation, a short section of oak/birch woodland at Bracken Hill comes next before the route heads downhill on a farm track (half a kilometre awayfrom the enigmatic Shipley Moat) then it’s more fields and a muddy wood to reach Harperley Footbridge and cross the River Wear.
The route crosses the Weardale Railway again, this time at the site of what was Low Harperley Station and shortly after passes through Low Harperley Farm. Just to finish off the ‘Harperley’ theme, although it’s about a kilometre to the north of the Weardale Way, the site of the former Harperley POW Camp off the A689 is worth a mention. From Low Harperley a good track conducts us towards Harperley Hall before the trail fades and the fields increase in size making it quite a challenge to find the stiles in the fences.
In the woods of Harperley Dene, the footbridge in the gully is invisible until the last moment while shortly afterwards, the farm at Wadley stocks a few interesting breeds of sheep. The trail turns upwards after this, though not particularly strenuously, affording some nice views of Bedburn to the south-west then it’s fields, stiles and gates all the way to the busy A68. Crossing the road brings us to Witton Tower and the medieval village of Witton-le-Wear. The finish of the section lies down a narrow trail and over the other side of the Weardale Railway embankment.
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