Weardale Way Section 8 (Witton-le-Wear to Bishop Auckland)
Section 8 of the Weardale Way starts from the Dun Cow public house on High Street, Witton-le-Wear, County Durham and finishes at the junction of Bridge Road/Newton Cap Bank, Bishop Auckland, County Durham. The route crosses the River Wear via Witton Bridge into the grounds of Witton Castle Park and undulates gently through woods and fields via the villages of Witton Park and Escomb to the finish opposite Bishop Auckland’s iconic Newton Cap Viaduct after which it’s only a short walk into the centre of town. THERE IS A GPS ROUTE FILE AVAILABLE FOR THIS SECTION AS A FREE DOWNLOAD FROM THE SHOP.
Distance 8.4 km (5.2 miles) | Elevation Gain 79 m/258 ft | Maximum Elevation 124 m/407 ft (Witton-le-Wear) | Profile Undulating>flat>hilly> – descending | Terrain Farmland, woodland, parkland, urban | Going Generally firm with potentially muddy/v.muddy sections on trails, roads and tracks | Exposure Fairly sheltered | Hospitality & Refreshment Witton le Wear (PH); Escomb (PH); Bishop Auckland [0.5 km] (All)
The route leaves the Dun Cow on High Street, Witton le Wear and crosses the road towards a signposted footpath next to ‘Rivercroft’. The trail leads steeply downhill to cross a high embankment, carrying the Weardale Railway, via steps on both sides. At the far side of the embankment, the route crosses a track onto an enclosed, waymarked trail to Witton Bridge. Across the river, it bears left at North Lodge, into the woods of Witton Castle Park, before crossing the Linburn Beck and emerging into open parkland below Witton Castle. Staying on the river’s flood plain, the route enters coniferous woodland before it meets the river, where it negotiates a rough, rocky section before making a short climb through riparian woodland to enter open farmland. The next section follows a well defined trail over the fields and onto the road leading into the village of Witton Park.
The Weardale Way crosses the green behind the Methodist Chapel to leave the village directly under the bridge to the Paradise nature reserve. However, there’s an option to turn right uphill in the village to visit the ‘Ball and the Bradford Boy’ sculpture. It’s not far and you can return via the same route. From the track under the bridge, the route switches once more to trail, undulating across several fields and to the village of Escomb with its important Saxon Church. Leaving Escomb along Dunelm Chare, there are a couple of options but the published heads directly down the track to the river where it turns right and continue along the riverbank (alternatively you can cut a slight diagonal using the signed footpath).
Eventually the riverside trail approaches the wooded Broken Bank, cutting diagonally across the last field, to a small, gated, stile into the wood. Just by the stile runs the Orange Stream; the water itself appears clean, but the orange-coloured deposits that line the stream bed emanate from local mine-workings. Broken Bank is aptly named: subject to heavy erosion, the soil easily breaks way in prolonged wet weather and the lower path can be extremely muddy. Several minor trails through the scrubby woodland all lead onto a sloping, grassy bank falling towards the river and grounds of Bishop Auckland Rugby Club, where the trail joins Bridge Road leading to the finish at the junction with Newton Cap Bank (you could continue alongside the river, around the rugby club, but you’ll have to rejoin Bridge Road).