Teesdale Way Section 3 (Holwick Head to Middleton-in-Teesdale)

Introduction

Section 3 of the Teesdale Way links Duke’s Bridge, Holwick Head with Middleton Bridge, Middleton-in-Teesdale and is the final section of trail waymarked as the Pennine Way. For the first half of the journey the trail follows the river where going is fairly gentle until they part company, at which point there’s a short, rugged climb. Landscape is pastoral with a small amount of woodland plus a few stiles. The route lies wholly within the North Pennines AONB and Moor House Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve as far as Low Force, as well as crossing lands belonging to Strathmore Estates.

There is a GPS route file available for this section as a FREE DOWNLOAD from the SHOP.

Stats at a Glance

Distance 7.3 km/4.5 miles | Height Gain 41 m/134 ft | Maximum Elevation 287 m/942 ft | Going Generally good – mainly over farmland on well-constructed trails and footpaths which can be muddy in places. Generally sheltered with many stile crossings some of which are quite challenging | Hospitality & Supplies High Force (PH/Ho) [0.5 km]; Holwick (PH/BB) [1 km]; Middleton-in-Teesdale (All) | Start Duke’s Bridge, Holwick Head NY 889283 | Finish Middleton Bridge, Middleton-in-Teesdale NY 946252 | Grade Gentle

Overview

After an easy stroll downstream alongside the Tees you arrive at Low Force, a lovely picnic spot and very popular with kayakers. Look out for Keith Alexander’s sculpture Sheep at Low Force just before you arrive at Wynch Bridge. The Victorian chain-link suspension bridge provides access across a deep gorge in the Whin Sill and provides an easy route to Bowlees Visitor Centre, Gibson’s Cave Nature Reserve and the impressive waterfall of Summerhill Force.

Back on the trail and not far from the bridge, are the distinctive spoil heaps of Scorberry Mine are on your right, while on your left, the river flows attractively past Wynch Bank Plantation where the Whin Sill disappears from the trail for good. A bit further downstream Scorberry Bridge links the Teesdale Way with the neatly white-washed village of Newbiggin and completes the circuit to Bowlees Visitor Centre. Take the time to look for fossils in the Cockleshell Limestone across the river, near the bridge.

The landscape is one of stone-walled pastures around the medieval village of Holwick. Consequently, you’ll spend much of what remains of the walk opening gates and climbing stiles. In springtime, these fields are filled with sheep and their lambs. Holes in the walls allow livestock to be moved between field controlled by the farmer who uses corrugated sheets to block the holes. The long, low humps in the landscape are drumlins, one of many glacial feature for which Teesdale is well known.

After a short, rugged ascent mentioned previously before coming back down, more gently, past Park End Wood, normal service is resumed though with the river more distant. Across the fields to the right, you get a good view of the hilltop copse of Kirkcarrion, a distinctive Teesdale landmark, visible for miles around. In front and below is Crossthwaite Quarry, one of several abandoned whinstone quarries on the Whin Sill.

By the cattle market, the trail emerges onto the first main road since Dufton, opposite a rare, half-buried, cast-iron milepost. Beyond Middleton Bridge – where this section ends – lies Middleton-in-Teesdale, the most significant town in the dale beyond Barnard Castle, which owes its status entirely to its lead mining heritage.

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