Weardale Way Section 14 (Deptford to Roker)
Section 14 of the Weardale Way starts from Deptford Terrace, Deptford, Sunderland and finishes at the Bede Memorial Cross, on the North Sea coast at Roker, Sunderland. So much heritage is squeezed into the shortest and most urbanised of the Weardale Way’s sections that it can leave the visitor quite bewildered at times. Utilising the River Wear Trail and Bede’s Way, the trail – although short – can be quite strenuous as it involves a fair bit of climbing (via long flights of steps). It can also be exposed if the weather is poor but there are usually plenty of places in which to take refuge. THERE IS A GPS ROUTE FILE AVAILABLE FOR THIS SECTION AS A FREE DOWNLOAD FROM THE SHOP.
Distance 5.6 km (3.6 miles) | Elevation Gain 74 m/242 ft | Maximum Elevation 30 m/99 ft (Wearmouth Bridge) | Profile Undulating>flat>steeply undulating> – ascending | Terrain Urban, coastal | Going Firm on roads and footpaths | Exposure Fairly sheltered | Hospitality & Refreshment Deptford (PH); Sunderland [0.5 km] (All); Monkwearmouth [0.5 km] (All); National Glass Centre (Ca); Roker (All)
Leaving from the entrance to The Ropery, the route heads east, along Deptford Terrace, eventually downhill, past the wrought iron gates which were once the entrance to Laing’s Shipyard. Uphill, just beyond The Saltgrass public house, the route takes to the riverside, revealing a riverscape dominated by Sunderland AFC’s Stadium of Light that occupies land which, until 1993, was the site of Wearmouth Colliery. This section of the river once bristled with infrastructure for loading coal onto waiting colliers, the most obvious remnants of which are the staithes and brickwork on the opposite. Heading down to the bridges across the gorge, the route passes under Galley’s Gill, now an attractive park but which, until 1967, was an area on which coal trains converged to supply the Hetton & Lambton Drops, operating in the shadow of Sunderland Power Station.
Passing under first, the Wearmouth Railway Bridge, followed by the Wearmouth Bridge itself, the route ascends to the level of the bridge deck via a ramp that now bears an impressive mural harking back to S.P. Austin’s specialised ‘pontoon’ ship repair facility. The feature itself can be traced by the cut-out in the quayside. On the other side of the river, the route uses stairs directly off the bridge to descend to the riverside, where it joins the C2C cycle route. Continuing downstream to the campus of the University of Sunderland, the route makes a diversion through the campus to visit St Peter’s Church and monastery site, this Anglo-Saxon church was once the home of Bede, England’s first historian.
Back on track, along the riverside, the route passes the National Glass Centre commemorating Sunderland’s long association with glass-making – another industry with which it was once heavily associated – on its way to North Dock (Roker) Marina where the activity centre accommodates an amazing example of a petrified tufa tree emerging from the harbour wall. Just around the corner – past the headquarters of Sunderland Yacht Club – you’ll find the beach. Further along the sea front is Andrew Small’s enigmatic sculpture entitled ‘C’. It was inspired by Bede’s work on the religious calendar and is used to mark the easternmost point of the C2C. The Weardale Way continues to the end of Marine Walk and Roker Ravine before the final ascent to the promenade and the finish at the Bede Memorial Cross a short distance further along the road.