This is a fairly leisurely walk along roads and through fields with few inclines. However, it has been rated as having a medium difficulty due to the many problems regarding the accessibility of the route’s footpaths.
Linear | 7.42km (4.61 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 was originally intended to be a circular walk which crosses onto the Teesdale Way on the other side of the river. However, many of the footpaths were made impassable either due to a lack of maintenance or by being actively blocked. The route shown is at the time of writing a viable path and should be easy enough to traverse. However, the footpaths used in this route may also become impassable in the same manner of disrepair or deliberate obstruction. For this reason the route is not marked as easy because walkers may find themselves having to backtrack over large distances.
1: The start of the walk is Piercebridge. There is a large free car park here in addition to a bus-stop with frequent buses. The route heads up the path which leaves from the South-side of the village’s bridge and heads uphill through a wooded area. At the top of the hill the route turns left through an overgrown path and eventually reaches a field. The route passes through the field up towards a road.
2: The route turns right at the road and follows it for some distance. There is a potential alternative route on this section. This section of the route offers some great views across Teessdale. If its the summer walkers can stop here to visit the pick-your-own fields.
3: Again there is an alternative route at this juncture in the route. Following the road straight ahead should eventually help walkers reach Chapel House Farm. However, at reaching the end of the road where the route should change to a footpath there appears to be no path. There are no signs and no stile where an up-to-date OS map indicates they should be. Therefore, following this road is not an option despite it seeming so on a map. Ignoring this cul-de-sac the rote turns left.
4: Eventually walkers will reach a sign post pointing out a footpath to the right and should follow it. The lane the path follows reaches an end eventually. to the right are some route markers which walkers should follow.
5: The footpath will reach a road. The route crosses straight over the road and continues following the path. Again, there is an alternative route here were walkers could turn right after crossing the road and head back towards Chapel House Farm. However, despite markers pointing out the route the gates along here are locked and the stiles are blocked with rocks and barbed wire. Though there are no signs saying that it is no access (in fact there are route markers which point straight through the blocked off gates) it is apparent that somebody doesn’t want anyone to access the public footpaths. Therefore the route avoids these footpaths and continues on ahead.
6: The route comes to another road and follows the road to the right as it turns left.
7: After the bend in the road there is a junction. The route follows the road to the right.
8: The road eventually turns left and the route continue following it. There is a footpath which heads down to the river here which could in theory be used to add a loop to the end of the route. However, there is no sign that the footpath joins back up with the road despite appearing so on up-to-date OS maps meaning it has likely been blockaded like many other footpaths on this route. Oddly the OS map does suggest a route which involves fording the river as another alternative which isn’t recommended.
9: Following the road eventually brings walkers to the ruins of St. Lawrence’s Chapel. The route supposedly can be continued by following a path from Barforth Hall to Winston. However, after following the few remaining route markers and passing the various heaps of scrap the path seemingly disappears, making Barforth Hall the end of the route.
The original intention was to cross the Tees at Gainford, but since both the bridges on the map are apparently inaccessible this was not possible. Its a shame this route could not be made circular. If the route between St. Lawrence’s Chapel and Winston was made clearer it could be possible to cross at Winston then follow the Teesdale Way back to Piercebridge. This would result in a 13 mile walk however. Despite being a 4.61 mile route you should take into account the fact that it is one way so you’ll either need picking up (since most of the route is on quite country roads this isn’t difficult to arrange – however, there are no bus stops passed) or will have to backtrack to the start. Also you may have to find alternative routes around impassible footpaths, we wasted 4 miles in total having to backtrack due to this reason.