In an unexpected blog development, I decided this afternoon to start capturing some easy walks so that visitors and locals-new-to-walking can get out and enjoy Weardale. Don’t expect lots of detail and accuracy – these routes will give the main gist of the walk and what to look out for.
Stanhope Dene is a beautiful steep-sided wood that flanks Stanhope burn as it journeys from its source high on the fells to join the river Wear at Stanhope. The walk is just over three miles and should take less than two hours.
Parking is on the street near the Grey Bull or in the Durham Dales visitor centre, and there is an hourly bus service (Weardale Motors 101) Monday to Saturday. The route is on OS Explorer 307 (Consett).
Take the footpath north from Stanhope Hall and follow this for the first leg of the walk, keeping the field boundary to your left. The path is steep and narrow in places and crosses two steep gullies. It can be slippery in wet weather. After about a mile the path circles left and there is a sharp drop to your right where the beck races below you.
Good views of a waterfall can be had before the path terminates at a stile that takes you into the field on your left. Keep the fence to your right for a short distance until you reach the field gate. Go through the gate and follow the track until it curves sharply round to the right to take you to the other side of the dene. You will pass some abandoned quarry buildings, and there are a couple of options for exploring the fell at this point. Stay on the track, heading south, until you come to the Crawleyside road.
Cross over to take the footpath on the other side of the road and follow this until you reach a sign for Ashes Quarry (you can stop and explore the quarry at this point). Take the downhill path that comes out onto a back road. You can turn right or left here, the next downhill road will take you back to Stanhope high street, where there are many options for refreshments.