Walking in County Durham
County Durham, often referred to as the 'Land of the Prince Bishops', forms part of the ancient border region of Northumbria. Historically, County Durham is a land hemmed in-between the two mighty rivers of the north - the Tyne and the Tees. The county stretches from the high Pennines to a low cliff coast. Its richly wooded landscape covers a treasure trove of coal and lead. Durham City is delightful, and easy to explore on foot. Its magnificent cathedral and impressive Norman castle are a World Heritage Site. The countryside is equally stunning, providing some glorious walking country.
The western half of the county, abutting the Northern Pennines, provides fantastic walking in the Durham Dales, namely Weardale, Teesdale and the Derwent Valley which comprise a third of the county area. The Dales landscape is a mixture of rugged upland with young, eager streams tumbling down waterfalls, and gentler river valleys with water glinting across wildflower meadows. Perhaps the most impressive waterfall is at High Force in Upper Teesdale, cascading 70ft. over steep cliffs called the Great Whin Sill escarpment. Caldron Snout, at 200ft. England's highest waterfall, is four miles west. Much of the Dales forms part of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
County Durham's fairly short but dramatic coastline provides bracing but continuously interesting walking along the 11 mile Durham coastal Footpath from Seaham to Crimdon. Several lovely denes can be explored, some on National Trust land such as Warren House Gill and Foxholes Dene near Horden. Just north of Easington is Beacon Hill, also National Trust, the highest point on the Durham coast and famed for its spectacular views. Near Peterlee, Castle Eden Dene, the largest of Durham's deep wooded ravines, is rich in wildlife and a National Nature Reserve with 12 miles of footpaths. At places along the coast it is satisfying to observe sensitive restoration and regeneration work, assisted by nature, helping to heal the landscape from earlier industrial scars.
Inland, just north of Durham city, there are beautiful woodland walks along the River Wear at Moorhouse Woods. There are some delightful walks along over sixty miles of former railway lines which have been sensibly converted into countryside paths. Walking part of the Dere Street Trail, a Roman military supply route from York to Hadrians Wall, is also well worth considering. The guide below offers a great selection of the delights County Durham has to offer.
Cleveland, once part of the North Riding of Yorkshire, is the area surrounding the industrial towns of Middlesborough and Stockton-on-Tees. Cleveland means 'cliff-land' and there couln't be a better description of the local landscape, with spectacular coastal cliffs and the dramatic great scarp of the Cleveland Hills. Although the area has an iron ore mining and industrial heritage, which have left their scars, most of Cleveland is glorious countryside ideal for walking. Particularly attractive possibilities are the Teesdale Way, the Cleveland Way and the Lyke Wake Walk. Another facinating town and country route exploring both beautiful countryside and the industrial heritage of Cleveland is the Tees Link, connecting the Cleveland Way and the Teesdale Way. An extended version of this is given on the Redcar page.
Romaldkirk - Romaldkirk is situated six miles north west of Barnard Castle, close to the River Tees, and there are few villages in England that are prettier. Its lovely houses and quaint cottages are set around two well-kept greens where its original stocks and water pump still stand. The interesting church of St Romald, the 'Cathedral of the Dale' has watched over the village since Saxon times. The village is close to the High Force Waterfall.
OS Map: Explorer OL31
A Walk from Romaldkirk [NY 995222]
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