This is a fairly challenging route with some minor inclines combining riverside paths, farm tracks and moorland crossings. The vagueness of the paths that route follows increases its difficulty and can make it very easy for walkers to lose their bearings.
Circular | 17km (10.6 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.|
It is recommended that walkers ensure they bring a proper map with them for this route. The village of Bowes acts as the best (and possibly only) start and end point of the route. The route can be followed in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. Anti-clockwise may serve best in making paths more obvious and getting the uphill sections out of the way first. However, the route is described as being followed in a clockwise direction.
1: From the village the route follows Back Lane to where a sign points to a track across the fields. The route follows this track, passing Bowes Castle, before heading downhill. At the bottom of the hill, by the riverside, is a great view of a set of falls. The route follows a path slightly uphill from these falls which may be overgrown. The route follows this path to a field and heads up hill to a lane.
2: Walkers should follow the lane here to the left. It eventually passes a farmhouse and reaches the river. Here the route heads up river to a footbridge. From here walkers can cross the field (either straight across or by skirting around the riverside) to a farm track. The route heads right here along the farm track for some distance before heading right through a farm yard.
3: Walkers here will be face-to-face with another bridge across the River Greta, but instead of crossing it they should head left through the field (there may be cows and bulls here) to another bridge which crosses Sleightholme Beck. From here the route crosses through the gate along the path ahead which follows the Greta’s edge. The path eventually reaches a road which the route crosses before continuing along another path on the otherside which follows the riverside. This path here is well maintained and easy to follow.
4: Eventually the path reaches God’s Bridge; a naturally occurring crossing over the Greta made of limestone. The route crosses the Greta here and follows the track uphill. At the top of the fill the route follow the track left where it leads to an underpass which walkers can use to cut under the A66.
5: On the other side of the A66 the route passes through a gate and heads up hill along the Pennine Way. Walkers should be wary to keep an eye out for the track as it has a tendency to disappear initially along this section. If lost walkers can look for the cairns along the high points on the moor which the Pennine Way skirts past. Eventually the path heads downhill again after passing several cairns. Near the start of this section a path to the right appears, this could be followed for a shortcut to point 9 on the route.
6: The route now reaches a track which it follows West for a short distance before heading North again over a footbridge then uphill. The track the route follows leads all the way to nearly the top of the hill where it turns right through a gate and follows a vehicle track. The track crossed at the beginning of this section could be followed to the East for a shortcut to point 9 on the route.
7: The vehicle track is clear and easy to follow throughout this section. Walkers should follow the track for a long distance along the top of the ridge till they reach a gate.
8: The route turns right before the gate and heads downhill. The path here can be vague but walkers should just follow the wall as it heads downhill, then back up before going downhill again and crossing HazelGill Beck. The route heads uphill once more to where walkers should be able to see the thatched roof of the farm at Levy Pool. From here Walkers should make a bee-line straight towards the farm. Walkers wishing to extend the route could follow the track instead of turning right at the beginning of this section. When the track eventually reaches the road walkers could turn right and follow it down to Clint road which they could then follow to re-join the route in section 10 before it crosses the A66 for the 2nd time.
9: Here walkers should cross Deepdale Beck at the footbridge and follow the farm track uphill. The track eventually becomes a small road before joining with another track leading to West Stony Keld. The route follows this track and turns left just before the farm following the Pennine Way sign. The route follows a wall past the farm buildings then heads diagonally across the field to a stile up the hill on the far side. The track continues straight ahead to the left of the farm buildings to another stile. Walkers are advised to be careful along this section as various cattle are kept in these fields. The route then crosses this field diagonally to a stile that leads onto a road. Walkers fed up with farm paths at this point can ignore the track leading to West Stony Keld and continue along the road as it slowly bends to the right and follow it to Section 10.
10: Walkers should follow the road Southward here as it heads downhill. Its quiet but walkers should remain vigilant for vehicles. The road here passes between army training grounds but is perfectly safe as long as walkers don’t leave the road. Eventually the road reaches a junction where the route continues following the road heading downhill. Walkers should be able to see the village of Bowes from here. The road which the route follows then crosses over the A66 on a bridge which leads into Bowes.
Much of the walk is level with only the climbs between points 4 and 5 and between points 6 and 7 being major inclines. Much of the route is susceptible to the seasons with the earlier riverside and moor sections being likely to become overgrown in the summer and boggy during wet periods. The village of Bowes which acts as the start and end point of the walk is serviced by a bus connection and has ample parking (either on the main street or the village hall car park if it is not in use for an event) making it easy to reach.
Adapted from Walking in Country Durham
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Walking in beautiful County Durham