Bolam - Heighington - Shildon - Bolam

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Bolam - Houghton le Side - Heighington - Redworth - Shildon

The walk, though suitable for any time of the year, is particularly rewarding in late May when the route passes through the ancient Brusselton Wood and reveals one of the best bluebell displays in the area.

Just past the halfway point the walk passes through the Locomotion Museum and the Timothy Hackworth Museum, collectively forming the Shildon Railway Museum, an annexe of the York-based National Railway Museum. Shildon is considered by many to be the 'Cradle of the Railways' and both museums reflect the rich railway heritage of the town and are well worth a visit. The main exhibition hall where the big locos are housed is probably out of the question on this walk because of time constraints, but the buildings encountered on the route are all accessible, particularly the 'Welcome' building No 1 housing Hackworth's original 'Sans Pareil' steam engine. The 'Sans Pareil' was an unsuccessful competitor to Stephenson's 'Rocket' during the famous Rainhill Trials of 1829, to decide which engines would be used to pull the trains on the soon-to-be-opened Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

Just beyond Shildon the walk encounters the historic Brusselton Incline, where in September 1825 wagons full with coal (and some people!) were hauled up the incline from West Auckland using ropes pulled by stationary engines at the summit. They were then lowered down the east side of the incline, where they were coupled up to the waiting passenger train at the bottom of the incline at Shildon, to become the world's first passenger train to be hauled by a moving steam engine (George Stephenson's 'Locomotion No 1'). The train then made the inaugural journey on the Stockton to Darlington Railway, all the way to Stockton at a top speed of 12mph, witnessed along the route by a reputed forty to fifty thousand excited onlookers.

The first part of the walk to Heighington is almost entirely field- and lane-walking, with a small amount of quiet road-work. The section from Heighington to Shildon is again mainly lane-, field- and road-walking in equal measures. The next part up to the A68 comprises mainly footpaths, stony and grassy lanes, fields and woods. The final lap back to Bolam is almost entirely farm track and road-walking with a small amount of field-work. The bulk of the walk is almost entirely flat except for the steep ascents up the road to Houghton-le-Side and the lane alongside Brusselton Wood. The remainder of the ascents and descents are very gentle.

England - North England - Durham - Countryside

Features

Birds, Butterflies, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Industrial Archaeology, Mostly Flat, Museum, Pub, Tea Shop, Toilets, Wildlife, Woodland

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