Barras - High Ewebank - Belah Viaduct - Barras

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The walk is a delightful circuit of the hidden Belah Valley. The route visits the remains of a famous steel railway viaduct on the trans-Pennine route between Barnard Castle and Tebay. The viaduct was designed by Sir Thomas Bouch.

Construction of the wrought and cast iron viaduct got under way in November 1857. At 196 feet, it was then the tallest bridge in England. Sadly it was dismantled in 1963, the line having fallen victim to the widespread railway closure programme. Bouch's career also ended in ignominy after the collapse of the Tay Bridge near Dundee (see Walk 4215). The walk goes right by one of the viaduct's buttresses and onto a lane with fabulous views across the Eden Valley to the Pennines and the Lake District fells.

The route then passes the old gamekeeper's cottage, Tufton Lodge, and reaches the 'lost hamlet' of High Ewebank. This settlement was once at the junction of packhorse roads from Kirkby Stephen to Bowes and to Richmond in Yorkshire. It was clearly a busy place, with no fewer than three inns in the 1850s and numerous dwellings. Now only two remain.

From High Ewebank the path drops deeply down to the River Belah, where you get a glimpse into an ancient ravine woodland, a haven for birds and the occasional red squirrel. Return is via the buttress on the other side of the viaduct, crossing the river to climb to the farmhouse at New Hall, thence along the lane to the walk start.

England - North England - Cumbria - Eden Valley


Birds, Flowers, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Industrial Archaeology, Moor, River, Wildlife, Woodland
4/20/2013 - Mike Walker

Did this walk today (20/04/2013) Navigation was straightforward until after the two awkward stiles across the very boggy ground. After passing the western buttress, none of us knew what a stone stoop was, which made finding one a tad difficult. Four university educated walkers had never heard of this architectural term. Perhaps you could rephrase the instructions to make it easier to understand. At least the bridge by the old barn was visible, so we knew where we had to go, but the instruction left us baffled! The river valley is very picturesque, in spite of the rough walking.

10/2/2012 - David Lacey

Did this walk a week or so ago. The navigational information is spot on, although it might be worth adding a comment that the gate below the buttress on the return leg is not the one visible as you approach the buttress, but only becomes visible once you reach it. We found the walk quite tough going between the cream coloured house and the second bridge, and we are not unused to rough-ish walking. The circuit took us about twice the advertised time, although we did stop for lunch and the ground was very wet. I was surprised to see what appeared to be BLUE cattle in the fields on the far side of the Belah. Never seen anything quite like them before. The viaduct is still magnificent, it must have been astonishing in its day. Perhaps a link to a picture of it when still intact would add to the description. Enjoyed it greatly, thanks.

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21.8 Miles