This route combines country tracks and climbs with paths through leafy suburbs. General’s Wood, the Victoria Viaduct and Penshaw monument itself are some of the points of interest covered on the way. The monument can be seen on its hill from nearly every point on the route then offers amazing views over Washington, Sunderland and Houghton-le-spring when reached. The route can be cut down by several miles by returning to the start early when the route passes by.
Circular | 12.3km (7.64 miles) | Difficulty: Easy to 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.|
There are several places this route could be started from, such as the foot of Penshaw Monument itself which has decent bus links, parking and a nice tea room nearby. Fatfield is the documented starting point as it too has plenty of parking, bus links and plenty of options for food or drink.
1: The route starts by heading East along bonemill lane, passing the bridge and staying on the North side until the lane becomes a track heading alongside the River Wear and under the Victoria Viaduct. This track should be followed for some time until Cox Green is reached.
2: From here walkers should cross the river on the bridge and continue heading East for a short while on the South side until a road heading up hill next to a pub called the Oddfellows Arms is reached. Heading up the road (which has side paths) will take walkers up to the a bridleway along an old train line.
3: The route follows the bridleway East until there is a bridge crossing it, here a flight of steps to the left can be taken to get up to the bridge. The road on top of the bridge is then to be followed South until a stile to the right can be seen before the road twists left (be careful along this section as there are no side paths on the road – luckily it is quite quiet most of the year).
4: Crossing the stile will lead to a muddy field which must be cross to reach the track through the woods. Along this tracks there are several branching paths which lead up to the top, any can be taken to reach the top track which leads to the monument and its amazing views. Once walkers have had their fill of the views they can then descend from the monument following the steps that lead back down towards the woods Westward. From here the track drops down onto a bridleway that leads straight to the village of Penshaw.
5: Once the village is reached the route immediately turns right and leaves the village, instead following a straight footpath along across the fields and heading towards a country road. On the other side of the road is the bridleway along the old train track (a section of which was followed earlier in this route). The route heads West along this track.
6: Eventually a bridge crossing the track will be seen with a flight of steps to the left. Climbing these steps then crossing the bridge and following the road will lead to a footpath on the left. Following this footpath, the route heads back towards the river wear. The route heads into the wooded area around the river where soon walkers will come across a path to the right descending downhill. Walkers should follow the path and head into the passing Mt Pleasant Lake on their left and the River Wear on their right. The route follows the riverside path until it reaches the bridge back into Fatfield.
7: If walkers have had enough they can choose to finish the route here and head back to the start (or one of the restaurants along the riverside. If continuing walkers should head West along Bonemill lane.
8: Walkers can risk crossing the busy slip roads where the Washington Highway crosses Bonemill lane or can head to the right up the street just before the highway and use the underpass. The route continues uphill along Bonemill lane until the entrance to Shiphouse Woods is passed on the right. Walkers should be able to see an entrance to the woods on the South side of the road, this is where the route heads to enter General’s Wood.
9: After entering the woods the path soon reaches another path. The route heads left here and following the path along the ridge. Eventually the path bends to the right before reaching another track.
10: Here walkers should head left and follow the track to its end on a quiet road. Walkers should then follow this road Eastward. This road offers a great view back on Penshaw monument and eventually leads back to the starting point of the route.
The tracks the route follows are well kept and are easily traversable, even in the winter – though they can be very muddy in places (such as on the ascent to the woods towards the monument). There are plenty of places to stop for refreshments such as the restaurants in Fatfield, the tea room near the foot of Penshaw monument and the Italian restaurant near General’s Wood.