About Us

Image of an outdoors photographer

“The Durham Cow is a personal project to illustrate the landscape and heritage of the borderlands of Northern Britain – once known as the English and Scottish ‘Marches’ – and the ways in which you can visit them, on foot or by bike. In an age beset by one ‘crisis’ after another, I think, more than ever, that it’s important to take responsibility for one’s own health and well-being. We can do this easily and cheaply by stepping out of the door to spend time in our glorious countryside. Exercise, learn and reflect – expensive memberships not required! Hopefully, after looking through the site, you’ll feel the same and if you have any questions, you only have to ask! All the best and keep ‘mooving’, Scott (The Durham Cow)”

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.   

 

Scroll to Top