Low Dinsdale - Girsby - Over Dinsdale Grange - Back

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Low Dinsdale lies in the Darlington unitary district of the ceremonial County of Durham. The walk starts at the northern end of the village next to the lovely old 12th Century church of St John the Baptist. The village also includes a manor-house dating back to the Middle Ages that was the seat of the Siwards, a family of Normans who changed their name to Sur Tees, which in Norman French meant 'on the Tees'. Robert Surtees, a 19th Century descendant of the family, is revered as the foremost historian on the history of County Durham.

The entire length of the walk is on the Teesdale Way. From Low Dinsdale the walk heads south on a surfaced lane to pass by old, disused Sulphur Spa Wells, where during the early part of the 19th Century a bathhouse was sited for the purpose of 'taking the waters'. After passing through a couple of fields the walk eventually intersects a minor metalled road that heads straight into the neck of the Sockburn Peninsula.

The peninsula, bordered entirely by the winding River Tees, has a secret history that includes being a place of Anglo-Saxon religious importance where both an archbishop and a bishop were consecrated in the late 8th Century. Probably the most renowned 'occurrence' on the peninsula however, was the tale of a dragon-slaying. According to legend the brave Sir John Conyers, a Norman knight who came to England during the Conquest, slew the man-eating Sockburn Worm (dragon) that terrorised the good people of the neighbourhood. In return for his act of heroism the lands of Sockburn were awarded to the Conyer family and a grand hall was built. A tradition followed whereby the falchion, the sword that killed the dragon, was presented to every incoming new Bishop of Durham as they entered their new bishopric for the first time. The tradition ceased for about 200 years until its reintroduction in 1984. The ceremony takes place in the middle of Croft-on-Tees Bridge and the falchion is kept on permanent display in Durham Cathedral treasury. One of England’s greatest poets, William Wordsworth, also spent several months at Sockburn Farm near to the hall where he met and courted his future wife Mary.

The walk leaves the peninsula across an iron bridge that was erected in the late 19th Century by the Lady of the Manor, in order to give local worshippers access to the new All Saints Church at Girsby.

The hamlet of Girsby lies high up on the eastern bank of the Tees in North Yorkshire and from here the walk heads due north through mainly flat fields, eventually to intersect a Roman road at the hamlet of Over Dinsdale Grange. The little-known road is part of a longer Roman supply road that went from east of York to the east of Hadrian’s Wall, running parallel to the more famous Dere Street.

A short walk follows along the metalled road that sweeps around in a wide semi-circle to recross the River Tees over a narrow former toll-bridge and return to Low Dinsdale.

England - North England - Durham - Countryside

Features

Birds, Butterflies, Church, Flowers, Mostly Flat, River, Woodland
08/03/2015 - Judy White

In spite of living within 15 miles of the start of this walk, we had never walked in this area so we set about putting this right yesterday. We extended the route a bit by starting at Middleton One Row and following the Teesdale Way from there to the starting point of this walk, and back again at the end, which gave us a total of 8.8 miles. It's a lovely walk through a very quiet area, the route is easy to follow and the only wet and muddy patch was near to point 13, as mentioned in the walk details. We enjoyed reading all the background information provided by Alan - I'd heard of the Lambton Worm but never the Sockburn Worm! An area which we will definitely return to, as this route made us aware of other paths in the area which we can explore.

29/02/2012 - Walkingworld Admin

Our thanks to Alan Anderson for his updates for this walk. February 2012. Adrian (Admin)

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19.9 Miles
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