Bow Lees to Middleton-in-Teesdale

This route covers the section of Tees which travels between Bow Lees (near Low Force) and Middleton-in-Teesdale.

Circular | 13.5km (8.37 miles) | Difficulty: Medium

Please note that the route given is a rough guide and should not be relied upon solely when planning a walk. Remember to plan ahead, get a proper map and ensure you have the right equipment.

The route is varied and travels through fields, moorland, forests and villages.  The walk earns its difficulty rating because of its steep up hill sections which are made much trickier when they’re muddy.

1: The route starts at the Bow Lees car park (much like the Bow-Lees to Cronkley Scar route).  Walkers can follow this route in either direction, though clockwise has the advantage of getting the up hill sections out of the way first and leaving the leisurely riverside sections for later.  To head clockwise walkers will need to head towards the back of the car park, up the slope to the field gate which they can then pass though.  The path along this section of the walk is tricky to see at times, it helps when entering a field to look for the style at the opposite side and to head right for it.  In this first field the route follows the track up hill then carries on towards the corner of the field when the track loops back on itself.  Walkers will eventually reach a stile, the path here is easy to follow to the nearby group of houses.

2: The path will deposit walkers at the top of road, instead of following the road they should cross it and follow the track up hill past the shed.  As with all the fields along this section cattle may be around so walkers should be careful.  Because of this the path can be extremely muddy in places.  The route follows the path till it reaches another road which it follows into Newbiggin.

3:  Walkers should follow the road through Newbiggin across the bridge and up hill.  Here there are two signposts pointing further up hill.  Walkers should now follow the route pointed out by the second sign they come across and keep heading straight up hill till the path in the grass becomes visible.  The route travels diagonally up hill towards the farm house at the top of the neighbouring field.  Once in the next field the route heads to the stile on the Eastern side.  Along this stretch there are some great views across the valley.  Once over the next stile the route heads uphill along the road to the T-junction.

4: On the opposite side of the junction are  two footpath signs.  The route follows the path right-hand sign points along and follows the track up hill to the old house.  From here the route heads to the right further uphill and follows the track.  Like many of the paths along this route it may be hard to spot so walkers are advised to look for the stiles.

5: Walkers will eventually reach a field with a black barn in it.  The route turns right in this field and heads towards the stile on the Eastern wall.  In the next field it bears left and goes through the gate.  For the next few fields the route is so vague so walkers are advised to aim for the stiles.  Eventually the path becomes defined enough to follow again and it leads past some farm houses and on to a road.  The route crosses the road and heads downhill.  The path here is clear for once but the next stile walkers need to cross is easy.  When found, walkers should head through this style, the next gate and down towards the tree line.

6: A bull is kept here so walkers are advised to be careful.  The route follows the wall by the trees till it reaches a style and crosses over it into the forest.  From here there is a steep descent on some stairs to the bottom of the valley.  At the bottom of the stairs are several points of interest.   To the right is a small series of waterfalls, opposite is a rock cliff overlooking the Hudeshope Beck and to the left is an old mine entrance.  The path through the forest is easy to follow.  Walkers will eventually reach a road which the route follows southward.  Along this stretch of the route can be seen many old mining buildings.  There are also a number of small waterfalls in the Hudeshope Beck and its tributaries.

7: Eventually the road reaches a path to the right which the route follows to a bridge that crosses the Hudeshope Beck again.  The route follows this path uphill and  eventually reaches Middleton-in-Teesdale.

8: The route now follows the main road downhill, across the beck (again) and into the village centre.  Walkers can stop here for refreshments.  When ready to set off again walkers should head off downhill to the Tees.

9: The route crosses the bridge over the Tees and passes the farm.  Here there is a sign pointing up-river (to the right) for the Teesdale/Pennine Way which the route follows.  This section of the trail is easy to follow because the path is well maintained in comparison to the prior parts of the route.  This section can still be muddy and also runs through a few cattle fields.  Other than that its relatively plain sailing.

10: The only point the path becomes difficult to follow is when it reaches a field and it seemingly disappears.  Walkers are advised to head towards the far side of the field and they should eventually spot a bridge over a small tributary.  the route crosses the bridge where on the other side the path becomes as clear as day again.

11: Eventually the route reach low force, crosses the swing bridge and heads up hill.  Here  there is a path that will lead walkers to the main road.  The route crosses the road into Bow Lees, heads up past the old visitor centre and over the bridge back to the car park.

This is a great walk and isn’t too demanding, though it would be better to do when the ground is more solid – perhaps during the winter with shallow snow and ground frosts would be the best time.  The distance and incline isn’t too demanding and the ability to stop off halfway round for a meal in Middleton is fantastic.  The only issue is the difficulty of following the path along some sections of the route but as long as the walker aims to find the right styles they should stay on track.

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