“The Durham Cow is my personal project to document the landscape and historical sites of the English and Scottish ‘Marches’ and to offer ways in which you can visit them yourself – on foot or by bike. Having turned 60 in 2021 I’m interested in encouraging anyone who is at, or approaching, pensionable age, to prioritise health and well-being simply by getting outdoors and actively enjoying our glorious countryside. Hopefully, after looking through the site, you’ll feel the urge to do just that. In case we don’t meet on the trail, feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment anywhere on the site. Best wishes, Scott”
The borderland between England and Scotland – from the Irish Sea to the North Sea – has a long history of bloody conflict where battle and betrayal was almost commonplace. As well as the world heritage sites of Hadrian’s Wall (the northernmost point of the Roman Empire) and the early Christian religious centre of Lindisfarne (repeatedly harried by Viking raiders) you’ll find countless hill-forts, castles, towers and ‘bastles’ (a form of defensive dwelling unique to the region).
The wild moorland scenery in which you’ll find England’s highest roads is still bleak and inhospitable in bad weather making it easy to see why, in the middle-ages, much of it was described as ‘waste’. This buffer-zone between two kingdoms was once known as the ‘Marches Legiarum’ and was a dangerous place in which to dwell. The hills of the Southern Uplands, Cheviots and North Pennines could either hinder or hide raiders but for today’s traveller are rarely more than an hour’s drive from some of the most inviting coastline anywhere in the UK.
In the 19th and 20th centuries the North East became heavily industrialised with Durham and Northumberland’s ‘Great North Coalfield’ providing much of the coal to power Britain’s industrial revolution while lead and other minerals were mined feverishly in the hilly dales. The legacy of all of this labour is the generous network of quiet, well maintained railway paths which we can use today to gain easier, safer access to the natural and historic sites within the rugged interior.
Tying all of this together in County Durham are two fully way-marked long distance walking trails – the Weardale Way and the Teesdale Way – which are at the heart of this website. The Durham Cow has long promoted them on the web and we now publish unique, spiral-bound, pocket guides with detailed information for each trail and which can only be purchased on this site. For the casual day-tripper we also provide low-cost, printable route sheets as well as FREE, up-to-date, GPS files.