Weardale Way Section 3 (Westgate to Rookhope)
Section 3 of the Weardale Way starts at the Candle House on the junction of Front Street with Scutterhill Bank in Westgate, County Durham and finishes at the Rookhope Inn, Rookhope, County Durham. This section is probably the most exposed of the entire Weardale Way. The profile is ‘up and over’, climbing for much of the first half and descending for most of the second. The middle part of the route is rough, potentially very boggy and can be navigationally challenging in poor visibility. THERE IS A GPS ROUTE FILE AVAILABLE FOR THIS SECTION AS A FREE DOWNLOAD FROM THE SHOP.
Distance 7.5 km (4.7 miles) | Elevation Gain 181 m/592 ft | Maximum Elevation 445 m/1461 ft (Weather Hill) | Profile Hilly>flat – ascending/descending | Terrain Upland pasture, moorland, farmland | Going Generally firm with some potentially wet/very boggy sections on trail, road, track and rough, open ground | Exposure Very exposed (particularly the first half) | Hospitality & Refreshment Westgate (GS/PH/CS); Rookhope (PH/BH)
Leaving the Candle House uphill on Scutterhill Bank the trail passes the buried remains of the castle that once comprised the ‘West Gate’ of the hunting park belonging to the Bishop of Durham before turning right, across a field, past Westgate Manor, and through a narrow alley between a farm and St Andrew’s Church, followed by a couple more alleys through the cul-de-sac of St. Andrew’s Place. The next section crosses several fields linked by wall-stiles before reaching an access road which leads steeply uphill to Warden Hill Farm.
Through the farm, on another steep track, the trail passes a well preserved pair of lime kilns before cresting the brow of the hill. At the gate beyond, the trail turns right, heading towards a copse of conifers and a ladder stile over the wall behind them. This leads to an extensive section of rough and potentially very boggy ground on the forward slopes of Weather Hill (the highest point on the section). Aptly named, if the visibility is poor, navigation can be difficult as you’re looking for a simple stile in a wire fence.
Over the shoulder of the hill, to the left of the summit, there’s more rough, boggy ground on a long descent to a railway embankment that once bore the Rookhope & Middleton Railway into Rookhope and which will do the same for you, taking you past High Bishopley onto a long downhill stretch, past Smailsburn Farm, to a small industrial estate on the Rookhope Burn, opposite the village itself. Below the trail, at river level, is an insignificant concrete block with a rusty pipe bolted to the top. This is the collar of a very deep shaft known as the Rookhope Borehole. The trail continues through the estate and over the bridge to finally enter the village with the Rookhope Inn not far away on the right.