Stone cottage is a perfect base for anyone keen to explore new trails! With an abundance of public footpaths and moors to navigate right from the doorstep and some of the most stunning scenery, and what better to come back to after a long adventure than a spacious tiled entrance room to de-kit, a roaring fire to dry off and warm up and a large range style oven to rustle up a wonderful home cooked meal.
Scroll down to read about some of our favourite trails...
Woodland - Gaunless Valley Heritage Walk
Distance: 5.5 Miles
Grade of walk: Moderate
The walk starts from the car park at the Gaunless Smelt Mill and follows the last section of the ‘Steele Road’ circular walk. Please keep to the public rights of way as old colliery sites can be dangerous. From the car park cross over the bridge and take the public bridleway to the left (look for the bridleway sign) which runs above the site of the Gaunless Smelt Mill and through Cowclose Plantation. Go through a bridle gate keeping the fence on your right, and over a stile. Then with the fence on your left to another gate and then over Cowclose Beck, into Cowclose Wood. Follow the path uphill through the field and towards a gate.The upper Gaunless Valley was an area with many small scale collieries. They employed only a small number of men and their output was sold locally to coal merchants from large towns in the region. Follow the track and cross a style on your left. The route here crosses the line of the Woodland Tramway.The Woodland Tramway brought coal from workings in Arn Gill and ran northwards up the valley side, before disappearing into a tunnel running underneath Woodland to the bottom of the winding shaft of Woodland Colliery, which closed in 1928.Continue across the fields and once over the small footbridge on the other side of the tramway, the remains of Cowley Colliery are clearly visible to the right of the bridleway.Beside the spoil heap are the remains of bases for the steam engines which operated the colliery winding gear.Turn right after the ruined building and follow the fence on your right until you cross a stile. Follow the footpath northwards, crossing two stiles immediately after each other and two streams, until House and Holme Farms are reached. Go into the yard through four small gates. Continue on, leaving the farmyard. Where the farm track bears south, carry straight on towards a derelict building, and pass behind to Brass Sides Farm.The walk continues eastwards past West Fold Garth and East Fold Garth farms, before turning left along the farm track towards the village of Woodland. Once at the village, turn right. At the Edge Hotel follow the road round to the right, heading down the road known as ‘Sun Road’ (previously ‘Fines Lane’).The single storey double gabled house opposite the Edge Hotel was formerly West Pitts offices and stables. The Edge Hotel was at the end of the turnpike road from Eggleston in Teesdale. The road was built to carry coals to the lead smelt mills from West Pitts. M i l e s t o n e s marking the distance can still be found along its route.The road down from the hotel became known as the ‘Sun Road’ probably because it ran southwards towards the sun in the direction of Copley.After about 250m, turn left onto the public footpath that leads up towards Lunton Hill Farm. At the farm, the walk passes between the farm buildings then out through a gate. Turn left towards another, then to a gate in a newly built stone wall. Turn right and follow the wall downhill through another gate onto the lane that leads to Lynesack Church.Lunton Hill Farm was formerly the farm for Cowley Colliery. It also provided a home for the Woodland Colliery Manager and the local tennis club.Located near the hedge at the back of Lynesack Church is the grave of Edward Smith who died in 1884. It is said he was the inspiration for the character ‘Smike’ in Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby – a long suffering pupil at Dotheboys Academy in Bowes. The old school building in Lynesack was erected in 1852, and closed in 1950. It was home to the Butterknowle Brewery from 1990 to 1998.From the church, walk down the lane and turn right at the road junction. On this corner is the old school building. At the bend in the road carry straight on, taking the footpath which runs between two hedges, following the course of Howle Beck. Go over a stile then bear left over another stile and then through a gate. Go through a second gate, over a wall, and take the track on your left and then right over the wall. Go around the side of the house and head straight across the fields to Copley. At the main road turn right, cross it then go left down Chapel Terrace. After the road bends sharply to the right take the left hand track between two houses to the stile in the wall just after Low Trough Farm.Continue over two stiles and down the steps that lead back to the start of the walk.
Route provided by The Gaunless Valley Heritage Project and This Is Durham website.
High & Low Force Waterfall Walk
This 5 mile circular walk takes you through the stunning landscape of Upper Teesdale, within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it includes Low and High Force waterfalls - the most spectacular natural features in the Durham Dales.The walk is an excellent way to discover the characterful River Tees and the Moor House-Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve. The high point of the walk (literally) is England’s biggest waterfall, High Force. Drop into the visitor centre at Bowlees for the café and to discover more about the area.Directions:From the Bowlees Visitor Centre, head south (crossing the main road with care) and follow the public footpath that crosses the old miners' Wynch Bridge spanning the River Tees. Turn right and head upstream (this is the Pennine Way National Trail) to Holwick Head footbridge. This part of the route passes alongside Low Force and through the Moor House-Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve, the wildlife of this area is some of the most important in the nation, and includes flower rich hay meadows and breeding wading birds.Staying on the same side of the river at Holwick Head Bridge and continuing up the slope will take you to impressive views of High Force, plunging 70 feet (21m) over the hard Whin sill rock found throughout Teesdale (1.25 miles return). Cross the Holwick Head footbridge and turn left continuing on the other side of the river for a short distance before heading uphill through a woodland, emerging onto the main road at the High Force Hotel (for a small payment you can walk the 0.5 mile return path to the bottom of High Force waterfall).Follow the footpath behind the buildings of the High Force Hotel and turn right along an unmade track (with the car park on your right) to a field barn and then head north east across two fields to meet a minor road to the small settlement of Dirt Pitt. Follow the track through Dirt Pitt and back to Bowlees Visitor Centre. For a short additional extension to the route - at Bowlees, from the car park follow riverside footpaths to Gibson’s Cave and Summer Hill Force Waterfalls (0.5 miles return).
Route provided by the North Pennines AONB Partnership and This is Durham website.
Etherley Dene, Escomb and the River Wear
Total Ascent:254 feet
Total Descent:253 feet
Max Elevation:459 feet
Min Elevation:237 feet
This is a remarkably pleasant circular walk starting in Etherley Dene (on the western edge of Bishop Auckland). The walk provides superb views down the river towards Bishop Auckland.
As elsewhere on the River Wear, the riverside path is wonderful to follow. Escomb, although only a small village, has a Saxon church at its centre, which is worth a visit should you have time.
Access: Etherley Dene is on the B6282, signposted towards High Etherley from Bishop Auckland. Pass the schools and college to turn right at the Mason's Arms pub. There are some lay-bys where you can park.
SatNav: DL14 0SY
Durham Heritage Coast Walk
The Durham Coastal Footpath is a superb 11 mile walking route from Seaham in the north to Crimdon in the south, leading through stunning clifftop scenery with links into coastal villages each with their own special stories to tell.This coast is one that has been affected by constant change, both natural and manmade, but it has always been a special place for nature lovers. The underlying geology is Magnesian Limestone with boulder clay above it which supports fantastic grassland with wonderful plants and other wildlife, including the very special Durham Argus butterfly that feeds on the rockrose and can be seen during the summer months. Coal mining was the dominant industry in the area throughout the 20thC but following the closure of the pits in the early 1990s considerable effort has been put into restoring the coastal grasslands leading to a recreated coastal landscape. Along the route you will still see remnants of the colliery spoil that despoiled the beaches for over 100 years.The walk starts in Seaham where the North Dock, created for the export of coal, is now a smart new marina next to the vibrant working port in South Dock. The path follows the cliffs to Nose’s Point where there are superb views down to Whitby on a clear day. This was the site of the former Dawdon colliery but now a gateway to the most tranquil section of the Heritage Coast. The airy route continues south taking in Hawthorn Dene, passing Beacon Hill and Easington Colliery down into Castle Eden Dene and on to Blackhall, where the final dramatic scenes of Get Carter were played out. Then on past the smugglers caves of Blackhall Rocks, the path runs on through a chicane of small gills to finish at Crimdon and its dunes, where little terns return from Africa every year to breed on the open beach. Along the way you can detour into the villages and onto the fascinating beaches, with some routes more challenging than others.
The coastal path booklet for the route is available from the Durham Heritage Coast office (Tel: 03000 268131) and available for download from . In addition, all walkers are advised to carry an OS map of the area.
Blue Plaque Trail - Barnard Castle
THE BLUE PLAQUE TRAIL provides information on the people and places whose contribution to the history of Barnard Castle has been commemorated by blue plaques erected by the former Barnard Castle Urban District Council or its successor, Barnard Castle Town Council.
Plaque 1 - 57 Galgate
William Hutchinson lived in Durham City in his younger days but moved into this house with his bride, Elizabeth, in 1760. He came to work as a solicitor but business was not as brisk as he had expected, and he became a prolific and versatile writer, excelling as a historian. (This plaque is not easily noticed; it is on the low wall to the left of the wrought-iron entrance.)
Plaque 2 - 45 Galgate
Cyril Northcote Parkinson, historian and satirist, has so far been the only person to be commemorated by a plaque in Barnard Castle during his own lifetime. He died in 1993.
"Parkinson's Law", quoted on the plaque, was not the only one which he discovered. Others included "Expenditure rises to meet income". The defects of bureaucracy were his most frequent target: he believed that administrators make work for each other.
Plaque 3 - 41 Galgate
For most of the period in which he was Surgeon to the Durham military forces, Edward Nixon lived in Barnard Castle where his social qualities and skill in medical science were much appreciated. He died in 1869, aged 82. His medal, uniform and photograph are in the Durham Light Infantry Museum at Aykley Heads, near Durham.
This plaque is in King Street, just round the corner from Galgate on the first house on the left (now used as Council Offices).
Plaque 4 - 33 Galgate
Abraham Hilton was a tea and spirits merchant, and a long-serving member of the Board of Guardians of the Poor, the Local Board of Health and its successor, the Urban District Council.
He was kindly, practical and forthright. Though of a religious nature, he was keenly anti-sectarian and, at his own wish, was buried in unconsecrated ground high on the bank of the Tees, a short distance downstream from Cotherstone. (4 miles from Barnard Castle.)
Plaque 5 - 27 Galgate
From its earliest days Barnard Castle has been a market town; its main streets include the Market Place (once called the Great Market) and the Horse Market.
After many complaints about the state of the streets after a cattle market had been held in lower Galgate, an auction mart was built in 1892 in Vere Road where, much enlarged, it still exists. It can be reached on foot through Farmers Way, opposite this plaque.
Plaque 6 - 21 Galgate
When Roderick Murchison came to Barnard Castle his chief interest was fox hunting. His wife, Charlotte, who made drawings of mineralogical specimens for Henry Witham (see plaque 11) persuaded her husband, with the help of Sir Humphry Davy, that a country gentleman could become a scientist without abandoning his field sports. Murchison went on to be the only man who was President of both the Royal Geological and the Royal Geographical Societies. He was knighted in 1863 and was made Baronet in 1866.
Plaque 7 - 13 Galgate
Elijah Yeoman probably came to Barnard Castle in the 1870's. After living in Marshall Street, he and his wife moved to these premises in Galgate which became family home, studio and shop. He also opened a branch shop in Kirkby Stephen. Like other photographers, his regular income came from portraits and family groups, but his scenic pictures are outstanding; a large collection of them is held by The Bowes Museum.
Plaque 8 - 31 Horsemarket
The Post Office has been in various parts of the town, often dictated by the method by which the mail arrived. When it was collected from the Royal Mail coach at Greta Bridge and brought by horses over the County Bridge, the Post Office was in Bridgegate; after the Abbey Bridge was built the Post Office moved to Newgate; when the mail came from Darlington by train, with a station beyond Galgate, the Post Office moved towards the town centre.
Plaque 9 - 23 Horsemarket
In 1764 fire broke out in the stores, perilously near the powder-magazine. If the fire had reached the powder there would have been considerable loss of life and destruction of property.
Led by their officers, men bravely entered the burning building and moved the powder into the church where it was kept under constant guard until the stores were repaired.
In 1864 Militia Barracks were built in Birch Road, where the guard room and main entrance can still be seen.
Plaque 10 - 26 Horsemarket
The founder and first editor of the Darlington and Stockton Times was Mr George Brown. Orphaned at the age of 13, he worked as an office-boy in a solicitor's office; he went on to qualify as a solicitor and a barrister. He was Clerk to the Local Board of Health and also the Guardians of the Poor; he acted as a voluntary minister to the Unitarian Church, and in 1870 a newly-built Unitarian church (since demolished) was dedicated to his memory.
(The plaque is on the wall beside the left-hand window.)
Plaque 11 - 3 Horsemarket ("The Witham")
Henry T.M. Witham (1779 - 1844) was generous with both his time and his money, and worked strenuously for the Mechanics Institute (providing education for the working classes) and the Relief of the Sick Poor. His kindness was greatly appreciated: 2039 people subscribed to a ceremonial presentation to him in 1838, and after his death this building, in which his good work could continue, was erected to his memory. In 1860 a large hall was added to the rear of the building.
Plaque 12 - 14 Market Place
The part of the building bearing the plaque was the King's Head Hotel when Dickens stayed there. He interviewed various people, including a local solicitor and a man who had taught at William Shaw's Academy at Bowes (4 miles away); he visited that school and met the proprietor, and he used the information to create the fictitious school of "Dotheboys Hall" in his novel. (Owing to an earlier misunderstanding, the dates on the plaque are incorrect. Dickens actually stayed on the 1st and 2nd February 1838).
Plaque 13 - 9 Market Place
Charles Dickens used the name (minus the final 's') of Thomas Humphreys (1787-1868) clock-maker of Barnard Castle in "Master Humphrey's Clock". It was not a novel in itself, but a story in the course of which Dickens could introduce novels to his readers. "The Old Curiosity Shop" and "Barnaby Rudge" were first published in this way. This was the site of a shop to which Humphreys moved four years after Dickens' visit. (See plaque 16).
Plaque 14 - The Butter Market (or Market Cross)
Though created as a Butter Market, the building is locally known as the Market Cross. Probably a market cross formerly stood here and public announcements were made from its steps. After the Butter Market was built, announcements were made from stone steps (later removed) on the southern side. (The plaque is on the inner arch nearest to the entrance. Be very careful about traffic when walking to or from the building.)
Plaque 15 - Corner of Newgate and The Bank
Richard III, formerly Duke of Gloucester, became lord of Barnard Castle at the age of 25. His emblem, a boar, is carved on the church and the castle; several other buildings in the town formerly carried similar carvings, two of which still exist; one of the carvings is kept in The Bowes Museum. In addition to Richard's work on the castle and the church, he obtained a licence to found a college at Barnard Castle. The white roses planted in front of the plaque represent the House of York of which Richard was a member. (This plaque is located in a small enclosure).
Plaque 16 - Corner of Newgate and The Bank
The shop which attracted the attention of Charles Dickens in 1838 stood here but was demolished during a road-widening scheme in 1933-4. Humphreys was apprenticed to a local clockmaker in 1806 and established his own business in 1815. Two sons followed the same trade, one of them in Hartlepool, and when their father died his daughter-in-law continued the Barnard Castle business, from different premises in the Market Place, until her death in 1891. The family had been making clocks (and sometimes watches) during the reigns of four monarchs. (This plaque is located on a low wall).
Plaque 17 - 30-32 The Bank
As well as a private house, an inn, and a restaurant, Blagraves (named after its seventeenth century owners) has been a rope-works and, in the twentieth century, a museum. The little stone musicians on the front wall are a twentieth century addition, but on one of the rear walls is a carved boar, the emblem of Richard III (1452-1485).
If you wish to avoid a steep downhill and then uphill walk, omit plaque 18 and go along the route under the archway on the left of Blagraves.
Plaque 18 - 8 Thorngate
The Hon. Sir John Hullock was born at Barnard Castle in 1764. He was kind and generous to his fellow lawyers and to the poor of his native town. He died at Abingdon while a judge on the Oxford Circuit, but his body was brought to Barnard Castle for burial. His memorial, surmounted by the figure of Justice, is in the Parish Church, next to that of his wife. A large portrait of him, which was presented to the people of Barnard Castle, is kept at The Bowes Museum.
Plaque 19 - Broadgates Chapel, facing The Demesnes.
Because of the alteration and addition of windows at the east end, the building has lost much of its original appearance as a chapel, but the south wall has changed less. The Wesleyan Methodists faced strong opposition while creating their chapel, and sometimes newly-built sections of walls were pulled down during the night. The arched tunnel accommodated a medieval route called Broadgates which linked the castle and the town to The Demesnes. Walk up the churchyard, through a narrow passageway, cross the road, and continue through another narrow passageway, at the end of which plaque 20 is above your head.
Plaque 20 - Hole in the Wall, Queen Street.
John Wesley preached in the Meeting House on the evening of 7th June 1763 but, on the following morning, so many people gathered to hear him before they went to work that he had to preach in the open air at 5.00 a.m. A century later, consideration was given to turning the Hole in the Wall into a proper road, linking Queen Street to Newgate, but nothing came of it and the Meeting House survived, though by that time most religious organisations had their own places of worship.
Plaque 21 - Low Mill, Hall Street.
Industry in Barnard Castle began on the riverside, using water-powered machinery to produce textiles. In the mid-nineteenth century, however, the land around Queen Street became a new industrial area, mostly consisting of metal works. Low Mill typified this change: its earlier riverside premises had been a flax mill before becoming a foundry which then moved to its final site.
Additional Plaques A1 - Teesdale Mercury, 24 Market Place.
In 1854 John and Reginald Atkinson produced the first issue of The Teesdale Advertiser and Monthly Chronicle at their general printing office in the Market Place, Barnard Castle.
When it became a weekly newspaper, the name Advertiser was dropped and replaced with Teesdale Mercury. The familiar masthead took its place at the top of the front page along with the Barnard Castle town seal. In 1880, the Mercury moved from its original premises, at what is now the Nat West bank, a few doors down the street to offices at 24 Market Place, where the paper is still based today.
Route information provided by DCC and This is Durham website.
Make your own way, plan your own day!
As well as having a fantastic number of routes to choose from, we do provide a good selection of guides, and OS maps of the area so that you can plan and make the most of your stay!
We are also more than happy to help at any point whether it is help finding information or routes, or simply questions about the cottage or area - we are here to help!