Weardale Way Section 5 (Stanhope to White Kirkley)

Section 5 of the Weardale Way starts from the south side of the ford through the River Wear at Stanhope, County Durham and finishes at White Kirkley Farm, White Kirkley, near Frosterley, County Durham. Although relatively sheltered at the start and finish, this section involves a substantial climb over a high ridge, fully exposed to the worst the elements can muster. The descent into the side valley of Bollihope is followed by an easy walk along the Bollihope Burn to the finish but it’s definitely a section to prepare for. THERE IS A GPS ROUTE FILE AVAILABLE FOR THIS SECTION AS A FREE DOWNLOAD FROM THE SHOP.

Distance 7.4 km (4.6 miles) | Elevation Gain  198 m/648 ft | Maximum Elevation 338 m/1108 ft (Catterick Fell) | Profile Hilly>flat>undulating – ascending/descending | Terrain  Farmland, moorland, riparian woodland, parkland | Going Generally firm with a potentially wet, muddy/boggy section above Parson Byers Quarry | Exposure Middle section is very exposed | Hospitality & Refreshment Stanhope (All); Frosterley [1 km] (FF/PH/GS)

From the south side of the now inaccessible ford, the trail heads downstream, past Unthank Hall and alongside the river, to Unthank Mill Farm where it takes to the fields, using either a tunnel or a stile to cross the line of the Weardale Railway. Shortly after, it joins a track, making its way through a holiday park before continuing on the road for a short distance, to Railway Terrace where the main ascent for the day begins. From the stile on top of the embankment, the trail passes Parson Byers Farm and continues upwards through the fields to the lower perimeter of Parson Byers Quarry.

Crossing more fields, it begins the real climb, up the side of the quarry. From the gate at the very top, the ground can easily become waterlogged in extended bad weather, so you might get wet here. Onwards and upwards through grassy hillside pastures, the trail eventually meets open moorland on Catterick Fell. It’s very exposed here, with little shelter for the next kilometre or so. When you get to the house at High Bishopley, the climbing’s done and you start to descend to the Bollihope Burn which will lead you to the end of this section of the trail.

The trail drops all the way through the park, directly to the burn at which point it turns, to follow it, eventually entering riparian woodland, which persists for much of what remains of the journey, offering decent shelter if it’s wet. The trail is the track bed of the Bishopley Railway and a dark but impressive cutting through the limestone announces the entrance to Fine Burn Quarry and the end of the woodland. The quarry ends at a footbridge over the burn but the trail continues on the track bed until it reaches the road, while the track bed itself continues under the bridge. The finish at White Kirkley Farm is just over the bridge.

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