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Walking in County Durham

Durham CathedralCounty 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. You can admire the famous Durham City skyline on a walk along the banks of the River Wear. The countryside is equally stunning, providing some glorious walking country with breathtaking landscapes in the Durham Dales and along the dramatic Durham Heritage Coast.

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 form part of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where the dramatic dales, heather moors, upland rivers and waterfalls, colourful hay meadows and charming villages all make for enjoyable walking.

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 Hadrian’s Wall, is also well worth considering.

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 couldn'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 fascinating 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.


Romaldkirk ChurchRomaldkirk 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.

A Walk from Romaldkirk [NY 995222] OS Map: Explorerâ„¢ OL31

The Tees enters one of its most attractive spots below Egglestone, near Romaldkirk. This walk includes a section of riverside path at this particular part of its course, well away from any roads, so the only way to see it is on foot. From the village the route heads south west to Low Garth Farm and then on to meet the river Tees. The delightful riverside path is followed as far as Woden Croft Farm from where the route heads west across field paths and woodland as far as the B6277. From here the route heads north back to Romaldkirk.

Best Pub for this walk
Rose and Crown, Romaldkirk Tel: 01833 650213 (Good Pub Guide)
This handsome eighteenth century country coaching inn has a charming environment, notably welcoming service and superbly cooked food. The cosy beamed bar has lots of brass and copper, a Jacobean oak settle and a crackling warm fire in winter. In summertime outside tables look out over the village green. Accommodation is available making this an ideal base for a walking weekend exploring the local countryside and returning for a wonderful meal in the smart Crown Room.


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County Durham