Teesdale Way Section 4 (Middleton-in-Teesdale to Romaldkirk)
Section 4 of the Teesdale Way links the market town of Middleton-in-Teesdale to the ancient village of Romaldkirk. The journey is a relatively short one which undulates steeply through the lower dale. It follows the river closely in the first half and hardly at all in the second. Two things stand out about this section. Firstly, the trail is way-marked specifically as the Teesdale Way and no longer piggy-backs the Pennine Way; secondly, you’ll encounter the first of the public artworks titled ‘Marking the Parish Boundaries’ that feature along the trail throughout Teesdale, as far as Gainford. THERE IS A GPS ROUTE FILE AVAILABLE FOR THIS SECTION AS A FREE DOWNLOAD FROM THE SHOP.
Stats at a Glance
Distance 9 km (5.6 miles) | Height Gain 183 m/599 ft | Maximum Elevation 268 m/880 ft (Eggleshope House) | Profile Undulating – steeply in places | Going Generally good but with a tricky riverside section near West Stotley. Muddy in places. Sheltered on riverside trails, farmland tracks and public roads | Supplies Middleton in Teesdale
Middleton-in-Teesdale to Eggleston
The Teesdale Way leaves Middleton Bridge following its own way-marks for the first time. The Dipper bird motif which appears on the signs will quickly become a familiar guide. Despite the dale being more populated and cultivated, this section of the trail is rugged, potentially muddy and steep. The Tees meanwhile is a picture of tranquility as it makes its way languidly past its confluence with the River Lune. Geologically speaking, sandstone and limestone constitute the underlying bedrock. However, the igneous intrusion of the Whin Sill is replaced with the much younger Armathwaite Cleveland Dyke. This is exposed at Red Scars Quarry just off the trail at Egglesburn.
In the 19th century, lead mining under the London Lead Company dominated life in this part of the dale. Given that the railway didn’t reach Middleton-in-Teesdale until 1868, small pack horses known as ‘jaggers’ were the main form of transport before the roads improved sufficiently to use carts. They carried lead ore from the mines near Middleton, on paths now traced by the Teesdale Way, to processing facilities like Blackton Smelt Mill. The route from the Saddle House was tortuously steep, using fords over ‘the Becks’. This persisted until 1860 when Blackton Bridge was eventually constructed.
Eggleston to Romaldkirk
Early habitation in this hilly part of Teesdale has been proven with many prehistoric finds. The village of Eggleston has c12th origins with the surrounding fields showing evidence of cultivation terraces. At least one of its houses – The Old Store – is publicly dated to the c18th. Like Middleton in Teesdale, Egglestone’s development in the c19th was largely due to lead mining, and its proximity to the smelt mill at Blackton. Prospect Terrace, South Terrace and Eggleshope House, at the highest point of the trail, were all built for workers and officials of the London Lead Company.
The trail leaves the village, then turns steeply downhill on the main road, past the gates to Eggleston Hall. Dating to the c19th, the hall is Grade II listed with extensive gardens, popular with the public. As you pass, look for the neat and very attractive waterfall on Hell Beck, tucked discreetly away opposite the gates.
At the bottom of the hill you’ll find Eggleston Bridge, your last contact with the River Tees before the finish. The bridge is so narrow that it requires traffic lights. It dates to the c15th and originally had a chapel at the southern end where a house now stands. It’s claimed that the bridge is haunted by a ghostly monk.
After a very short climb on the road, up Collingwood Bank, it’s back across the fields to continue climbing via the Shoulder of Mutton and Hewcroft Hill. You then cross Beer Beck, onto Primrose Lane, entering Romaldkirk via Water Gap. And, if all of that doesn’t encourage you to visit one of the village’s two hostelries, nothing will!