Whorlton to Barnard Castle

This route covers the stretch of the river between the village of Whorlton and Barnard Castle.  Mixing some stretches of field walking with river side paths this route is relatively long but isn’t too taxing.

Circular  |  13.7km (8.5 miles)  |  Difficulty: Easy

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 mostly flat with only two brief ascents up the sides of the Tees valley.  Though the field sections are rather monotonous there are some interesting sights along the way, such as Bowes Museum and the ruins of Egglestone abbey.  The route also offers plenty of opportunities to stop off for refreshments.

1: Walkers can start this walk from a number of places.  If using public transport Barnard Castle would be the better option due to its numerous bus links.  Parking may also be better in Barnard Castle for those who don’t know the back roads of Teesdale.  This route assumes the walker starts at Whorlton bridge.  However, if a walker plans to start from here they are advised to get there early because there are only several places by the side of the road to park.  As with most circular routes walkers can choose to do this walk in any direction.  There isn’t much difference between the two directions as the ascents and descents are all gently.  The route is written up assuming walkers will follow it anti-clockwise to get the first ascent done straight away.  The route heads over Whorlton bridge, up the footpath to the village and along the top of the slope parallel to the river.  Most of this route is well signposted.

2: The first point of interest along this section is a beck crossing.  Walkers should keep an eye out along here for the wildlife that can often be seen along this section of the Tees, including pheasants and foxes.  This is the first of several field walking sections.

3: After several fields the path finally veers off back into the woodland by the Tees.  After leaving the fields the path splits in two; one staying near the edge of the woodland and the other dropping closer to the river.  The route follows the path towards the river which offers some great views of this rocky and narrow stage of the Tees.  The paths do meet up again but the lower path will require walkers to head back up hill.

4: The route now reaches a road.  Here walkers have several options.  For a short walk walkers can follow the road to the left where it crosses a bridge over the Tees.  On the other side of the bridge lies a later part of the walk.  Taking this option cuts out half the route.  Following the road to the right will eventually take walkers into Barnard Castle.  Along here is the opportunity to see Bowes Museum from close up.  However, taking this route will require heading further up hill.  The third choice  is to cross over the road and follow the path that continues by the river side.  Along this stretch of the route walkers will be treated to a great view of the ruins of Egglestone Abbey.

5: Walkers will eventually find themselves in Barnard Castle.  There is the option of stopping here for refreshments or ti have a look around at some of the places of interest the town offers, such as the castle itself or Bowes Museum.  The route then heads downhill to the river.  Here there is a footbridge which walkers can cross to the start the return leg of the route.  For this section the route simply follows the path by the river edge.  Eventually it’ll lead into a caravan site and follows the site’s roads up hill to the exit.  There are thankfully some markers dotted around the site to help walkers navigate their way out.

6: The route heads up hill and follows the markers off the road to the top of the slope.  There is a fantastic view from here over Barnard Castle which includes the castle ruins, Bowes Museum and the backdrop of the Tees valley.  This section of the route has several great views along the river and is easy to follow.

7: The route will lead to a road which walkers must follow by the river.  Along this road the route passes Egglestone Abbey.  It is along this section thatthe route passes the bridge that there was the option of crossing earlier for a shortcut.  Crossing the road leads to a path that leads down towards the riverside.  The only obstacle along this section is the crossing of Thorgill Beck.  This crossing consists of only two stepping stones.  In the winter these can be icy so holding onto the neighbouring fence is recommended when crossing.  Eventually the route will deposit walkers on a road and bears left following it.

8: The road will soon meet the Greta.  Here there is a clear view of where it meets the Tees.

9: The route follows the road up hill to where there are some markers on a fence to the left.  Following the marker pointing away from the road leads towards a gate.  Some rather unusual wildlife is kept on this land such as llamas and alpacas.  Walkers may need to skirt round some rather odd cattle to get to the gate.  The route continues along the top of the next few fields.  Despite being field walking there are some great views of the Tees.  Observant walkers should be able to spot earlier sections of the walk on the far side.

10: For the final section the route departs from the river and follows the stone wall along the edge of the field towards a small farm house.  Before reaching the house it bears left.  Walkers should now be able to see Whorlton Bridge.  The remainder of the walk is a straight line downhill towards the start.

When finished walkers can head back up the other side of the river to Whorlton village for refreshments.  Walkers are advised to note that some sections are likely to be very muddy on wet days.  In addition to this walkers are also observed to look out for black ice during the winter on the road section.

Route adapted from the Teesdale Way

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