Wolsingham to Tunstall Reservoir

This route follows a lot of quiet country lanes and paths across fields to take walkers from the Village of Wolsingham up to Tunstall Reservoir. Sections of the route should take walkers through woodlands, but recent felling has greatly reduced the size and number of these wooded areas. Wet weather can make a lot of the route very difficult and slow going, though it should be fairly straight forward during dry spells. Being able to spot route markers, stiles and gates from a distance is a required skill for this route as there are many fields to cross with no paths to follow.

Circular | 10.5km (6.51 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 starts from the Demesne Mill picnic area. There is parking here, plus a number of bus stops nearby making it a good place in the village to start from. The route is written as being followed clock-wise as this way gets most of the climbs out of the way earlier.

1: From the picnic area, the route follows the path which heads upstream along Waskerley Beck’s South bank. Walkers should keep the beck on their right and follow the path. Eventually the path crosses a small stream, the route heads uphill then right after before crossing the bridge ahead. Immediately after crossing the bridge, the route follows the path to the left along Thornhope Beck’s North bank.

2: The route crosses the road here and follows the footpath sign pointing across the field on the other side. Walkers should climb the stile then follow the path that winds up hill. At the top of the hill the route follows the wall on the right, then at its end heads straight ahead into the next field then across to the gate. The route follows the track to the left here as it slowly heads up hill, passing several farms on its way. Eventually walkers will reach a place where the track bends left but there is a gate straight ahead. Walkers should go through the gate and continue following the track on the other side up hill.

3: Eventually the track ends, at which point walkers should turn right and follow the path here. The path will eventually lead to an old ruined wall on the right, which walkers should cross over and head into the old sheep pen. On the left is a large stile which walkers should climb. On the other side, the route follows the path to the right. At this point, as the path bends left, walkers should get their first glimpse of Tunstall Reservoir. At the end of the track the route turns right and heads downhill through the field.

4: The route goes through the gate here and follows the farm track on the other side. This (after another gate) will lead walkers through some farm buildings where it turns right – the route continues along the track after this turn. Not far past the farm buildings there is a grassed bridge over the stream to the left, the route crosses here and heads through the next field. In the field following this the route heads downhill (to the East) towards the houses at the bottom, then follows the route markers which takes walkers to a track which skirts a copse of trees. The route cross the next field and through the gate onto the quiet road beyond. Following the road to the left a short distance will lead walkers to the dam of Tunstall Reservoir.

5: Walkers wanting to go further can continue along the road without crossing the dam until it reaches another road heading right which leads to a bridge over the reservoir – on the other side is a footpath to the right which leads through the woods to the other side of the dam. Those not wanting to go further can simple cross the dam then follow the road on the other side as it winds uphill through the woods. There is a steep climb once the road leaves the woods, but once at the top all the climbing for this route is done.

6: The route crosses the small bridge to the right of the road here and follows a track along the hill top. Eventually this track skirts along the edge of some woodland. Walkers should keep an eye out for the path forking along this section and endeavour to keep to the path to the right which starts to head downhill. After passing through a gate and across another field the path leads into woodland and crosses a stream.

7: After following the path up out of the woodland on the other side of the stream, the route now crosses several fields. Walkers should head straight ahead in each field and look for the gate with the marker on the other side. This section can be incredibly boggy on wet days so can be slow going. Eventually walkers will reach a farm and should follow the lane that heads in front of it.

8: Outside the farm walkers have a choice. They can head straight ahead, off the farm lane and downhill to where they will find a footpath leading back to the start of the route. Alternatively, if walkers want to go a bit further and see more of Wolsingham they can follow the lane as it turns left and heads downhill. Eventually this lane reaches a main road where the route turns right leading back into the village and back to the start.

As mentioned in the route there is the possibility of walking around the entire reservoir if weather and time permits. The village of Wolsingham has a number of cafes and shops to get food and beverages from (though we found that everywhere was shut on the days between Christmas and New Year when following this route).

Adapted from The Wolsingham Wayfarers.

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