Weardale Way Section 12 (Chester-le-Street to Mount Pleasant)
Section 12 of the Weardale Way starts from the east abutment at the site of Old Lumley Bridge, opposite Riverside Park in Chester-le-Street and finishes on the riverside at the end of Beatrice Terrace, Mount Pleasant. It shouldn’t take long to notice that the major historic landowners in this section belonged to either the Lambton or the Lumley families. The undulating route is quite sheltered and makes a pleasant walk at any time of year although parts of it can be muddy in wet weather. It shares the trail along the Lumley Park Burn with the Northern Saints Trails Way of Learning.
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Stats at a Glance
Distance 9.1 km/5.6 miles | Elevation Gain 119 m/390 ft | Maximum Elevation 55 m/181 ft (Lumley Burn between Lumley Forge and Bournmoor) | Going Generally firm with potentially wet, muddy sections on trails, tracks and roads through woodland, farmland, parkland, urban | Exposure Fairly sheltered | Supplies & Hospitality Chester-le-Street (All) [0.5 km]; New Lambton (PH); Fence Houses (All) [0.5 km]; Bournmoor (Ga); Fatfield (PH) | Start Old Lumley Bridge, Chester-le-Street NZ 284509 | Finish Beatrice Terrace (Mount Pleasant Park), Mount Pleasant NZ 314541 | Grade Moderate
After taking in the view across Riverside Park towards Chester-le-Street and the distinctive spire of St Mary’s & St Cuthbert’s Church, you begin by walking downstream from the site of Old Lumley Bridge and crossing the golf course into Lumley Park Wood, circling behind Lumley Castle. The route then follows Lumley Park Burn upstream on Waugh’s Way (also part of the Way of Learning), through the gate alongside Garden House to an access track. Before the track crosses the bridge over the burn, you bear left and follow the trail steeply uphill through the woods. You reach an access road at The Manor House which takes you over the A1(M) to Forge Lane where there’s a short flight of steps (to cut out a narrow hairpin) descending back to the Lumley Park Burn at Lumley Forge.
Here there’s an option to turn left before passing beneath Lumley Forge (A1M) Bridge (the low route) to continue on the track alongside the burn OR to continue under the bridge, uphill to a more elevated trail that runs parallel to the lower track (this was the preferred option when the Smiths Arms public house was open – which it may possibly be again some day). The two routes rejoin before emerging on a busy main road at Bournmoor opposite a public house. After a short distance on the road towards Fence Houses, you turn left to cross the Lumley Park Burn again before arriving at a railway path that was once the Lumley Branch of the Lambton Railway and from where Penshaw Monument can be seen in the distance.
Just before reaching Elba Park – the reclaimed site of Bournmoor Colliery – the route leaves the track to cross a field alongside the decommissioned Leamside Railway Line to reach the main road (A183) between Shiney Row and Chester-le-Street where there’s a garage store not far away should you need it. Diagonally across the road, the route continues on an access road, then a track, into Biddick Woods and past Biddick Hall – on the edge of the Lambton Estate – followed by a long, gentle descent to what is now a tidal River Wear at Chartershaugh Bridge.
On arriving at the road in Mount Pleasant, you’ll see Fatfield Bridge (variously referred to also as Penshaw Bridge or East Bridge) on your left and beyond that – out of sight, across the river – is Worm Hill which is associated with the legend of the Lambton Worm. The finish lies a short distance away on the riverside between Mount Pleasant Park and the end of Beatrice Terrace.