This walk tours the conjectural site of the Battle of Neville’s Cross where English and Scottish armies fought a decisive engagement on the 17th October 1346 during the early stages of the Hundred Years War. The full route visits many features mentioned in the context of the battle (with the notable exception of Durham Cathedral which isn’t too far away) or it can be shortened quite easily, to suit time and ability.
There is a shorter ‘official’ route but we think that ours allows visitors to better appreciate the topography of the extended site. Bear in mind that medieval battle sites are often difficult to locate with accuracy, archaeological evidence invariably being scarce. No artifacts have ever been found on this site and the only evidence, although compelling, is documentary.
With the exception of a busy start/finish the route makes use of quiet paths including Club Lane which was in use at the time of the battle itself. THE GPS ROUTE FILE FOR THIS WALK IS AVAILABLE AS A FREE DOWNLOAD FROM THE SHOP.
Stats at a Glance
Start/Finish Neville’s Cross Monument (close to the corner of St John’s Rd. and the A690, Neville’s Cross, Durham) Distance 10.2 km/6.3 miles Height Gain 140 m/460 ft Maximum Elevation 105 m/344 ft (Durham Johnston School) Profile Undulating with several steep hills Going Generally good on footpaths, tracks and road – can be very muddy in places Supplies Crossgate Moor (General Store); Bearpark (General Store)
From the monument at Neville’s Cross, head towards Durham on the A690 then turn immediately left (L) on St John’s Road. Continue to the end of the road then down an alley on the L. Turn right (R) at the end of the alley and continue alongside the A167 – over the railway bridge – to a footbridge (FB) across the A167 near St Bede’s Close. Cross the FB where you’ll find an interpretation board explaining aspects of the battle but remember that it’s just an ‘interpretation’.
Continue off the FB in the opposite direction to which you approached and turn first R into Quarry House Lane. Continue 300 m to the bottom of the lane and turn L onto a footpath (FP) just before the road bears right into the farm. Continue for 0.5 km through Baxter Wood where the river and quarries may have been used by the English to protect their left flank during the battle. On reaching an access road, turn L across the River Browney and continue uphill to Baxter Wood Farm.
Bear L through the farm then R through a small, metal gate and continue a short distance uphill to reach the Lanchester Valley Walk (LVW). Turn R and continue 1 km on the LVW to Aldin Grange Fishery where you might be lucky enough to find the cafe open. If you don’t want to visit Aldin Grange Bridge continue on the LVW to Auton Stile/Toll House Road. Otherwise turn R and continue downhill on the access road to the main road. Turn R and continue downhill to Aldin Grange Bridge on the River Browney then return, past the access road, to the LVW.
Cross Auton Stile/Toll House Road and continue 1 km west (W) on the LVW to the junction with an access track. Before you reach the track you should be able to see the ruins of Beaurepaire across the valley to your R. Turn R at the junction and continue downhill on the track and over the River Browney. A short distance beyond the bridge turn R through a gap in the fence and continue uphill on a trail to the ruins of Beaurepaire.
Return to the access track and turn R. Continue on the track, which soon steepens uphill past Bearpark Hall Farm (300 m), before levelling off, eventually passing Stotgate Farm (1 km) which, as its name suggests, was once an entrance into the monastery’s park and was likely to have been the route used by the Scots on the 16th October. Continue to a gated field entrance on the L (1.3 km) where the track bends to the R (if you find yourself looking directly down the track towards a farmhouse near the road you’ve gone too far: turn around and walk a few metres back to the gate on the R).
Take some time to view the battlefield to the north-west: you will be standing where the Scottish army may once have assembled with the English on the ridge in front from left to right
In the field bear L, following the field boundary, on a trail known as Club Lane (used by monks journeying between the monastery and Beaurepaire). Continue on the trail all the way back to the A167. Cross the road then EITHER turn R and continue uphill direct to Durham Johnstone School where you can view the sculpture in the school grounds OR cross the road and continue directly down a narrow lane (FP) onto Springfield Park and continue to the junction with Fieldhouse Lane. Turn R and continue to the next junction (Flassburn Rd). Turn R on Flassburn Rd and continue across the junction with Springwell Av into woodland (Flass Vale) the steep slopes of which might well have protected the English right flank.
At the bottom of the hill, at the first intersection of trails, turn right and continue on the trail, past Maiden’s Bower (to where, it is said, that the monks from Durham brought the corporeal cloth of St Cuthbert in order to give spiritual assistance to the English forces) followed by Flass Cottage shortly after, then steeply downhill on the road to Ainsley Street. Continue down a narrow alley in front of you, alongside the houses, then up the steps onto Redhills Lane. One version of the tale for how this area got its name is that after the battle the hills flowed red with the blood of the Scottish Army. The battle was originally referred to simply as ‘the battle at Durham’.
Turn right and continue steeply uphill. Bear left at the top and continue through the cemetery into the cul-de-sac of St Bede’s Close. Follow the road to the junction with the A167 and turn left. Continue over the railway bridge and turn left back up the alley into St John’s Road then right and continue to the memorial close to the junction with the A690.