Weardale Way Section 10 (Page Bank to Durham)
Section 10 of the Weardale Way is from the bridge over the River Wear at Page Bank, between Spennymoor and Brancepeth, County Durham, to Baths Bridge in Durham City. This section is generally flat with the exception of a short climb on an access road past Croxdale Hall followed, shortly after, by a steep, possibly very muddy, stepped descent in Shincliffe Wood. It’s just as well that the going offers good progress as there is much to see on this section including the first view of the magnificent Durham Cathedral. THERE IS A GPS ROUTE FILE AVAILABLE FOR THIS SECTION AS A FREE DOWNLOAD FROM THE SHOP.
Distance 12 km (7.4 miles) | Elevation Gain 95 m/312 ft | Maximum Elevation 95 m/310 ft (High Butterby) | Profile Flat>undulating – descending | Terrain Parkland, woodland, farmland, urban | Going Generally firm with potentially wet, muddy/v.muddy sections on roads, footpaths, trails, footpaths and tracks | Exposure Fairly sheltered | Hospitality & Refreshment Croxdale [0.5 km] (PH); Shincliffe (PH); Durham (All)
Starting from the car park at Page Bank Bridge to the north of Whitworth Hall (once home to Bobby Shaftoe of nursery rhyme fame), the trail follows the river along its floodplain, passing to the south of Brancepeth Castle and the adjacent St Brandon’s Church followed, some time later, by the lofty arches of Croxdale Viaduct. Crossing the river via Sunderland Bridge, it enters the grounds of Croxdale Park where you’ll find Croxdale Hall with its Norman chapel both of which are conveniently close to the route. Further along the quiet lane, out of the park, is High Butterby where the trail turns off the road to enter Shincliffe Woods.
The path through this dense, semi-ancient woodland descends steeply to rejoin the river, with conditions underfoot being extremely weather-dependent. The well-trodden trail could be described as ‘interestingly undulating’. Eventually it arrives at the village of Shincliffe where it crosses the busy A177 to join the riverside footpath at the end of the first (or last) of Durham’s ten bridges over the River Wear.
Past Durham University’s Maiden Castle Sports Complex you’ll find Maiden Castle Bridge (or ‘Noisy Bridge’) overlooked by the wooded mound of Maiden Castle itself – an Iron Age promontory fort site. Shortly after that you pass the east abutment of Elvet Railway Bridge demolished in the 1980s (I think), close to Durham Rugby Club. You cross Old Durham Beck via Kingfisher Bridge with Old Durham Gardens, just off the trail to the east. Durham Rowing Club’s boathouse is across the river where you often see the Prince Bishop river hauled out of the water for periodic maintenance.
Around the final bend after the boat house is a 750 metre-long, straight stretch of river, where the annual Rowing Regatta is held. This is where you get the first view of Durham Cathedral, and Durham Castle along with the elegant spire of St Nicholas’ Church. In the foreground, on the opposite side of the river, on a stretch of riverside known as The Racecourse, is the bandstand and a couple of sculptures, one of which is the Durham Ox. Back on the trail side, Pelaw Woods towers over the footpath at the end of which, just before you enter the old city itself, is the finish of the section at Baths Bridge.