Teesdale Way Section 7 (Whorlton to Gainford)
Section 7 of the Teesdale Way links Whorlton Bridge, just south of pleasing but spartan Whorlton village to the better appointed, medieval village of Gainford located right on the north bank of the river. The trail sticks fairly close to the Tees for much of the journey but at various elevations which is why it receives a ‘moderate’ grade. Irregular medieval field systems synonymous with the middle dale are exchanged for large, arable fields interspersed with riparian woodland.
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Stats at a Glance
Distance 9.2 km/5.7 miles | Height Gain 137 m/450 ft | Maximum Elevation 133 m/436 ft (Low Barn) | Going Generally good though muddy in places. Sheltered on trails, tracks and road through woodlands and farmland | Hospitality & Supplies Gainford (BB; Ca; GS; PH) | Start Whorlton Bridge, Whorlton NZ 106145 | Finish Village Cross, Gainford NZ 170168 | Grade Moderate
From the toll house at the end of Whorlton Bridge, the route starts uphill on the road before entering woods at the hairpin bend. It then crosses Whorlton Beck via stepping stones and continues past the former site of Whorlton Lido (on the opposite side of the river) and the Ferryman’s Cottage before climbing steeply, opposite Waterside Cottages, through the wood to the escarpment above. There are good views of Wycliffe Hall and Howbury Scar on the south side of the river while Stubb House stands in splendid isolation across the fields to the north.
As suggested previously, the trail gets a bit rugged through the woods before getting your first glimpse of the distinctive spire of St Andrew’s Church, Winston. You cross the road at the northern end of Winston Bridge for a final, short but steep hump on the outskirts of Winston followed by a nice, gentle descent through quiet, riparian woodland to West Tees Railway Bridge. A short section on the course of the old railway delivers you the busy A67 after which, there’s a few hundred metres on the roadside footpath before descending to the Tees to visit Gainford’s ornamental sulphurous spring.
After returning to the road, the approach to village of Gainford itself offers a grand view of c17th Gainford Hall. Across the river is the distinctive shape of a medieval dovecote in front of the ruined Chapel of St Lawrence which once served the deserted medieval village of Old Richmond (there’s a similar dovecote in a private garden just after you enter Gainford). Across the green from the village cross, which marks the end of Section 7 of the Teesdale Way, stands St Mary’s Church with its ancient well on the banks of the Tees.