Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Back on the tracks........ (Durham) February 16th
  I have not had a railway walk for some time so when Dave suggested we enjoy an extra, midweek stroll on one of the several old Durham tracks that have been converted into cycling/walking paths I needed little persuading.
 We opted for the Deerness Valley walk from Crook, a small town south west of Durham, to the cathedral city itself. It's a bus walk, unless you have cars at either end so we met on Eldon Square Bus Station in Newcastle and caught the X21 to Durham where we changed to the 46 service to Crook. Total travelling time an hour and half but thank goodness for pensioners bus passes.
                                                No car park, Eldon Square bus station, Newcastle
     Crook is a small market town, today the market was in full swing in the small town square. On the north west side, left of "The Original Factory Shop" a street lined with small shops, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, just like the old days, morphs into the B6298. This is the start of the walk.
It is possible to follow the walk without a map as the trail is well marked but if you want a map be warned; a classic "buy more maps" ploy by Durham CC and the OS spread it over three Explorer maps; 305 Bishop Auckland; 307 Consett and Derwent Reservoir; 308 Durham and Sunderland. You can of course photocopy, use a Pritt stick and laminate.
                                               Crook on a cold day.
   Once out of town look for the grassy footpath on the right. It is on an old waggonway and some of the original track has been left, the sleepers have been carved into art works.  The path leads uphill quite steeply but this is the only hill on the walk.
Near Stanley Crook is a memorial to a young man;
                               Much loved footballer.
Cross the road at Stanley Crook and the Deerness Valley Railway Path leads all the way to Durham.
                                          Horses are allowed, cyclists too.
  It was, as promised, a cold day with a strong wind that helped blow us along. The path is one of the prettier railway walks, wooded on both sides and not passing through any other big towns. The first settlement we came to, an old pit village like so many in Durham, was Waterhouses.
                      Waterhouses celebrates the Queens golden jubilee
                      Waterhouses, typical pit village housing, beautifully maintained.
   The path continues down the Deerness Valley, passing Esh Winning and entering Rag Path Wood where we stopped for Herbie, after about 5.3 miles of walking. Being only the two of us there was not the usual goodies to share but we did have ginger flavoured flapjacks fro and Yorkshire flapjacks too.
Lunch over we continued on our easy way. Approaching Ushaw Moor we turned off the main path onto the old mine sidings to look at what little was left of the old colliery where Dave's greatgrandfather had worked. (And possibly mine too). The pit head gear has all gone except for the pumping house. The shaft has recently been capped but the whole site has been planted with deciduous trees and has become a park.
 Information Board explaining the regeneration at Ushaw Moor pit

                                     All that remains. The pit pump house next to the capped shaft.
Walking on we reached Broompark outside Durham. Just beyond is the junction of the old railway lines which are now walks: The Deerness Valley Railway Walk, The Lanchester Valley Railway Walk and the Brandon Bishop Auckland Railway Path.
                                     The junction at Broompark
We walked up to the road, crossed the East Coast Railway Line (This one has trains) and walked down to Stonebridge. Turning left onto the A690 we soon found the footpath leading to the old Neville's Cross College buildings, some of them have been demolished. We followed the footpath down towards the river, passing several school buildings before turning left to meet one of the most glorious sights in England, Durham Cathedral.

                           Always worth a second look; Durham Cathedral from the west
Once in Durham we ignored the siren call from Wetherspoons and went home by bus. In my case it was pub quiz night.
    A really good walk on a cold winter's day. should make the Times on  a Saturday.
The Matrix MMXVI G

                                                             steps                                miles
LIDL3D                                             25626                                10.02
NAK                                                  31497                                 13.42
Dave's 3D                                          24432                                 12.22
  "       USB                                        24064                                 12.15
  "    NAK                                           23936                                 12.08
etrex                                                                                              12.5
OUTDOORS                                                                                12.4

Journey time  4 hours 15 minutes including 48 minutes stopped time

For some reason I can't rotate the last map. It should be turned clockwise 90 degrees

Contains OS data copyright Crown Copyright and Database right 2016