Weardale Way Section 6 (White Kirkley to Wolsingham)
Section 6 of the Weardale Way starts from White Kirkley Farm, White Kirkley, County Durham and finishes at the railway station in Wolsingham, County Durham. The route from the isolated former mining hamlet of White Kirkley to the busy dales town of Wolsingham passes through a couple of working farms and involves a long and reasonably strenuous ascent onto the exposed ridge of Sunnyside Edge not far from the popular Weardale landmark known as Elephant Trees. The walk along the edge of the escarpment, on a long, sandy track, channeled between a stone wall and the heather moorland, with fantastic views all around, is top-drawer stuff after which, the few kilometres remaining are all downhill – but only literally. THERE IS A GPS ROUTE FILE AVAILABLE FOR THIS SECTION AS A FREE DOWNLOAD FROM THE SHOP.
Distance 9.2 km (5.7 miles) | Elevation Gain 224 m/734 ft | Maximum Elevation 372 m/1220 ft (Sunniside Edge) | Profile Undulating>hilly>flat – descending | Terrain Upland pasture, moorland, coniferous forest and farmland | Going Generally firm with some potentially wet/boggy sections | Exposure Very exposed (particularly the first half) | Hospitality & Refreshment Frosterley [0.5 km] (FF/PH/GS); Wolsingham [0.5 km] (All)
Shortly after leaving the start we pass the Bishopley lime kilns on the other side of the Bollihope Burn in which, on closer inspection, we can see examples of the highly fossilised limestone known as ‘Frosterley Marble’. At Harehope Gill further on, we encounter the last of the lead mines on the trail. Beyond the mine, the trail skirts around Harehope Quarry and then begins the climb to Sunnyside Edge passing through West Biggins Farm along the way. From the ridge, with the ‘elephant trees’ to the west and grouse moors behind, we are offered unparalleled views of Weardale.
As promised, from here the going is much easier: after continuing east for a couple of kilometres on the wide sandy track, we turn left off the ridge and descend on good tracks and roads through the farm at Towdy Potts to the finish of the section at Wolsingham Station. The station is the Weardale Railway’s first port of call in the dale and is located on the outskirts of Wolsingham across the River Wear. By using the heritage services of the Weardale Railway both this section and the previous one can be turned into truly memorable walks. Alternatively an easy circuit can be completed by returning along the valley on a well-marked trail.