Witton le Wear - Escomb - Hunwick - Witton le Wear

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Witton le Wear - Escomb - Bishop Auckland - Hunwick - High Grange - Witton le Wear

The first half of the walk follows a section of the Weardale Way, a long-distance walk that tracks the River Wear from its source at Killhope to the Wearmouth Estuary at Sunderland. The walk starts down an enclosed, narrow lane, crosses a steep railway embankment and emerges through grassy fields to intersect and cross Witton Bridge spanning the River Wear.

Easy walking follows along the south side of the river on riverside paths, lanes, roads and through fields and woods to Escomb, the site of one of the best-preserved and complete Saxon churches in Northern Europe. Built in the 7th Century, most of the raw building materials used in the construction of the church were taken from the nearby Binchester Roman Fort, as the Roman motifs and inscriptions in the walls of the church attest.

Virtually the whole of the area on the left between Witton Bridge and Escomb is populated by either fishing lakes or nature and conservation areas, nestling in the numerous loops both sides of the meandering River Wear. Beyond Escomb the track between Waymarks 14 and 16 can be very muddy after prolonged wet weather, especially in the wooded area called Broken Bank, a good reason to tackle this walk either during high summer when the ground is dry or midwinter when the ground is hard with frost. Note along this stretch the unusual feature of the Red Beck, a stream with a vivid red-tainted bed caused by minerals discharged from derelict mine workings.

At Bishop Auckland the walk crosses the 15th Century Newton Cap road-bridge, then soon passes under the impressive Newton Cap viaduct, formerly a rail bridge, now a converted road-bridge. From here the route leaves behind the Weardale Way and proceeds north of the river, where the majority of the walking is through fields.

From Bishop Auckland the walk rises gently to New Hunwick before descending back down to the valley floor at High Grange. The last section of the route is field- and lane-walking back to Witton le Wear.

The terrain south of the river is mainly flat, north of the river is more undulating but none of the ascents are in the too-strenuous category.

England - North England - Durham - Countryside

Features

Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Castle, Church, Flowers, Great Views, Nature Trail, Pub, River, Wildlife, Woodland

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