Leader : Dawn Proctor. Distance : 14 miles.
Left click route and profile to enlarge
Today’s route followed the tracks of Weardale’s mining era. After leaving Stanhope in a westward direction, our group of 8 walkers followed the river Wear to Eastgate. This village once marked the boundary of the Bishop of Durham’s deer park. We examined the replica of a Roman altar; the original, dated AD 238-244, was found in Rookhope Burn in 1869.
Leaving Eastgate, we made a short detour to look at Low Linn Falls, a horseshoe cascade. Climbing steeply, we followed the track up Rookhope Valley, passing the now disused mining shafts. After a pre-lunch snack in Rookhope, with the promise of lunchtime shelter and views from the top, we began the long steep climb up the abandoned trackbed to the ruins of Boltslaw incline engine house. Here, until 1923, a stationary steam engine hauled Rookhope’s minerals to the top of the moor before transferring the wagons to the railway and onwards to Consett. The disused railway serving the engine works was the highest standard gauge track built in the UK.
Following the curving track around Stanhope common, we eventually joined the trackbed of the Stanhope and Tyne Valley Railway, to the site of the Crawley Engine. We spent some time spotting the old stones, now half buried, which had belonged to the Stockton and Darlington Railway, who had owned this line in the mid-19th century.
Bearing left along Crawley Edge, the path then drops down to Ashes Quarry just outside Stanhope, where, for 70 years, hundreds of men toiled to dig out the limestone. It closed in the 1940’s leaving a huge, mile-long hole in the ground.