Weardale Way Section 2 (Cowshill to Westgate)

Section 2 of the Weardale Way starts from Burtreeford Bridge in Cowshill, County Durham and finishes at the Candle House on the junction of Front Street with Scutterhill Bank in Westgate, County Durham. This section of the trail is virtually all downhill and, being flat, sheltered, and pastoral, is not typical of the terrain normally experienced or sought this far up the dale, making it perfect for a relaxed walk at any time of the year.


Stats at a Glance

Distance 7.3 km (4.5 miles) | Elevation Gain  12 m/39 ft | Maximum Elevation 365 m/1198 ft (Cowshill) | Profile Flat>undulating – descending | Terrain Farmland, riparian woodland, urban | Going Generally firm & dry on trails, tracks and lanes | Exposure Fairly sheltered | Hospitality & Refreshment Cowshill (Ho/PH); Wearhead (GS); St John’s Chapel [0.5 km] (Ho/PH/Ca/GS); Westgate (PH/GS/CS)


Leave Burtreeford Bridge from the southern end and follow the signs for the Weardale Way, through the gate and up the track of ‘Mellon Isle’  (depending on the season you might be able to catch a glimpse of Burtreeford Falls from the trail). The trail quickly descends to the level of the Killhope Burn and continues, through fields, to Wearhead. Then it’s downhill, through the village, to join the trail alongside the river at the far end of Wearhead Bridge where the Burnhope Burn, flowing out of nearby Burnhope Reservoir, joins the Killhope Burn to officially become the River Wear. 

Most of the descending has now been done and the rest of the walk feels flat. Adjacent to the bridge, alongside the trail, was the site of the former Wearhead Station which was the terminus for the line up the dale and was furnished with a turntable to turn trains around. After a brief stretch of riparian woodland, the trail crosses fields towards, and through, Waterside Farm, eventually arriving at a lane after which it crosses the bridge into West Blackdene, turning quickly to follow alongside the River.

The trail continues, much of it through riparian woodland, all the way to the ford at Pennine Lodge, passing West Blackdene Mine Bridge, Coronation Bridge and the Weardale Museum (on the opposite side) along the way. Passing the ford and footbridge, the trail enters fields via a stile in the stone wall to continue alongside the wall, eventually through a small farm and into more fields beyond (notice the well-chewed gate). Eventually you’ll arrive at a lane that leads to the main road at Daddry Shield Bridge.

Across the bridge and on the opposite side of the road, the trail continues, again alongside the river, to the isolated row of houses that comprise Windyside. At the bottom of the terrace is a gate from where a grassy track leads across more fields, past some houses, and onto the lane leading to Westgate Ford. Across the lane is another gate, from where the trail heads towards the old track bed of the Weardale Railway that runs alongside the river, past Westgate on the opposite side, until stopped by the blocked portal of Haswick’s Bridge. After scrambling up the bank to the road (total climbing for the day) it’s a short, easy stroll to Front Street in Westgate followed by the finish, shortly after, at its junction with Scutterhill Bank at the Candle House.

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