Teesdale Way Section 6 (Barnard Castle to Whorlton)

Introduction

Section 6 of the Teesdale Way links the market town of Barnard Castle to Whorlton Bridge, just south of the village of Whorlton, in County Durham. It is the shortest of all the sections and is fairly sheltered with few inclines of any significance and reasonably good surfaces in most conditions. The map used here is that of the circuit or figure-of-eight walk associated with this section although the stats given and the route described are for the linear trail which starts downstream on the north bank of the river before crossing Abbey Bridge to the south bank. In 2022-23 Whorlton Bridge is/was completely closed for repair meaning that in order to continue on the trail downstream from Whorlton it is/was necessary to stay on the north bank of the Tees after Abbey Bridge for which the day-walk map is more appropriate.

Stats at a Glance

Distance: 6.8 km/4.3 miles | Height Gain 59 m/194 ft | Maximum Elevation 138 m/453 ft (Barnard Castle) | Going Generally good though muddy in places. Sheltered on trails, tracks and road through woodlands, parkland and farmland | Hospitality & Supplies Barnard Castle (All) | Start Demesnes Recreation Area, Barnard Castle NZ 050160| Finish Whorlton Bridge, Whorlton NZ 106145 | Grade Moderate | GPS File

Description

From the Demesnes recreation area the trail passes through Demesnes Mill Farm followed by the site of a former flax mill before passing the ruins of c12th Egglestone Abbey on the other side of the river shortly afterwards. Abbey Bridge is narrow and intermittently busy with traffic which is controlled by lights at either end of the bridge. Take time to linger in one of the refuges on the bridge to view the gorge below, particularly on the upstream side. Quarries along this part of the river have exploited local limestone which, when polished, is known as Egglestone Marble, similar to neighbouring Weardale’s Frosterley Marble. Both types have been used to fashion various decorative artifacts found in religious buildings around the country.

Further east along the river is the country estate of Rokeby where the River Greta joins the River Tees at the boulder-strewn, Meeting of the Waters (the boulders were deposited by the Great Flood of 1771). Rokeby and Teesdale in general are associated with artists such as Turner, Cotman and the poet Sir Walter Scott. In the c14th the estate belonged to Sir Thomas de Rokeby, a captain at the Battle of Neville‚Äôs Cross which was fought in the hills outside Durham in 1346. At that time the now deserted medieval village of Rokeby would have been in existence of which today only the base of the stone cross of St Michael’s Church remains (along with various other lumps and bumps). In his 1770 publication ‘A Six Months Tour through the North of England‘ Arthur Young mentions that a ‘tea-room’ could be found at the cottage adjacent to Dairy Bridge over the River Greta. 

After entering Mortham Park the trail passes close to Mortham Tower, a fortified manor house dating to the c14th and the possible site of another deserted medieval village that was swept away by Rokeby Park’s owner, Sir Thomas Robinson in the c18th. Shortly after that the trail passes above the outline of what may have been a  Roman encampment in the fields sloping northwards towards the river (although it could just as easily be medieval – further investigation is awaited). All that remains is a short, final section over more fields, crossing the boundary between Rokeby and Whorlton and passing the deserted medieval village of Thorpe-in-Wycliffe, before arriving at Whorlton Bridge and the finish of Section 6 of the Teesdale Way.

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