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 middle 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, it’s the first section to be specifically way-marked as the Teesdale Way, leaving the Pennine Way to do it’s own thing; secondly, you’ll encounter the first of the low-profile public artworks titled Marking the Parish Boundaries which feature along the trail through Lower Teesdale, as far as Gainford.
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Stats at a Glance
Distance 9 km/5.6 miles | Height Gain 183 m/599 ft | Maximum Elevation 268 m/880 ft (Eggleshope House) | Going Generally good but with a tricky riverside section near West Stotley. Muddy in places. Sheltered on riverside trails, farmland tracks and public roads | Hospitality & Supplies Middleton in Teesdale (All); Eggleston (PH); Eggleston Hall (Ca); Romaldkirk (PH; Ho; BB; Ca*) | Start Middleton Bridge, Middleton-in-Teesdale NY 946252 | Finish St Romald’s Church, Romaldkirk NY 995221 | Grade Challenge
The Teesdale Way leaves Middleton Bridge following, for the first time, its own waymarkers displaying the friendly ‘Dipper’ bird motif. Despite the dale being busier and more cultivated, this section of the trail is surprisingly rugged and potentially muddy while the Tees is a picture of tranquility, particularly where it’s joined by the River Lune. Sandstone and limestone of the Stainmore Formation constitute the underlying bedrock and, while the Whin Sill has disappeared, igneous rock is still present in the form of the much younger Armathwaite Cleveland Dyke exposed at Red Scars Quarry just off the trail at Egglesburn.
In the 19th century, life in much of the middle and upper dale centred around the mines and smelt mills of the London Lead Company which provided work, housing and welfare facilities for hundreds of employees. Until the railway reached Middleton-in-Teesdale in 1868, pack horses known as ‘jaggers’ were the only means of getting the lead from the mines to mills like the one at Blackton, situated on the moor above Eggleston. Blackton Viaduct, just off the trail at Egglesburn, was constructed in 1860 to avoid horses having to struggle over ‘The Becks’, the same route that the Teesdale Way uses today
Many prehistoric finds suggest early habitation in this hilly part of Teesdale. Eggleston village dates to the c12th where the surrounding fields show evidence of terraced cultivation. At least one of its houses – The Old Store – is publicly dated to the c18th. Prospect Terrace, South Terrace and Eggleshope House – at the highest point of this section of the trail – were all built for workers and officials of the London Lead Company. Grade II-listed Eggleston Hall dates to the c19th and today offers a cafe within the grounds of its popular gardens. There’s an attractive waterfall on the Hell Beck, tucked quietly away opposite the gates.
At the bottom of the steep hill, Eggleston Bridge crosses the Tees for the last time before the finish at Romaldkirk. Dating to the c15th, the bridge is so narrow that it requires traffic lights. It originally had a chapel at the southern end, where the house now stands, and is claimed to be haunted by a ghostly monk. After continuing on the road part-way up Collingwood Bank, the trail turns back across the fields, over the Shoulder of Mutton and Hewcroft Hill towards Romaldkirk which it enters – rather poetically – at Water Gap via Beer Beck and Primrose Lane.