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ancient stones
Walking in Durham

Ancient Stones

ISBN 978-1-905444-32-8

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About the Guide

By Keven Shevels.

The second edition of this popular book is now available. With a revised layout and even more photos to help guide the walker this publication has now been expanded to 104 pages.

Stones abound on the hillsides of the Durham Dales. However, not all are natural as man has exploited the hardness and durability of this material for thousands of years.

On the hills overlooking the valleys have been placed standing stones, stone circles, cairns and curricks, each with their own special significance and history. Some of these have been as an act of worship, some as an act of reverance and others just as an act of daily work but with most the significance of their placement escapes the walker as he passes them by and with some even their existence is not noticed.

In the course of eight walks this book explores a cross-section of these monuments and their mysteries. Try and look at the dales with eyes from a past time and see a different world. Using the newly acquired right to roam, the walks in this book explore the legacy left in stone by our ancestors.

The Walks

Sometimes a monument can be in place for so long that it becomes part of folklore and tradition. The stone cairn on the ridge above Bollihope is one of these.

  • DISTANCE: 5.5 mile (8.8 km)
  • ASCENT: 945 feet (288 metres)
  • START: Car park alongside the Bollihope Burn (GR NZ 007 350) on the Frosterley to Eggleston road, signposted from Frosterley as "to White Kirkley and Hill End".
  • TERRAIN: Open fell with a large proportion of the route over open ground and will involve some heather bashing. There is a short section along the B6278 road.
  • FGS Grading F8 - [ D0, N2, T2, R2, H2]

As the name suggests God's Bridge is a natural limestone feature that has been carved out by the action of the river Greta and now forms a natural bridge over the river.

  • DISTANCE: 8.25 miles (13.2 km)
  • ASCENT: 528 feet (161 metres)
  • START: Bowes and Gilmonby village hall car park (GR NY 996 135).
  • TERRAIN: Mainly track and field path although there is a stretch of moorland walking when following the Pennine Way over Ravock. The walk starts with a stretch of road walking when leaving Bowes.
  • FGS Grading F4 - [ D1, N1, T1, R1, H0]

Within County Durham there are three known stone circles all within the Teesdale locality. The best preserved is on Barningham Moor on the southern slopes of Teesdale.

  • DISTANCE: 9 miles (14.5 km)
  • ASCENT: 728 feet (222 metres)
  • START: Forestry commission car park in the Stang Forest (GR NZ 023 082). There is no charge for this car park.
  • TERRAIN: A total mixture ranging from forest road to moorland path and quiet country road. There is one very steep climb on the route.
  • FGS Grading F4 [ D1, N1, T1, R1, H0]

Stones don't have to be large and eye-catching to have archaeological merit. Sometimes even the smallest ones can provide interest and get the mind wondering. This site is one of these, something small that could be taken as insignificant but which fills in the gaps of our knowledge.

  • DISTANCE: 5.3 miles (8.5 km)
  • ASCENT: 673 feet (205 metres)
  • START: Tunstall Reservoir car park (GR NZ 064 413)
  • TERRAIN: A mix of farm paths and moorland paths. There is a short stretch of tarmac walking at the start and finish.
  • FGS Grading F5 [ D0, N1, T1, R1, H2]

Sat on a ridge overlooking the Burnhope valley stands a single standing stone.

  • DISTANCE: 7.8 mile (12.5 km)
  • ASCENT: 771 feet (235 metres)
  • START: Small parking area just outside of Edmundbyers alongside the B6278 Edmundbyers to Stanhope road. GR NZ 013 497.
  • TERRAIN: Field and moorland track and path all of which are quite defined.
  • FGS Grading F5 [ D1, N1, T1, R2, H0]

Located high on a hillside overlooking Teesdale, this site stands in rugged isolation with only the sheep and grouse for company. If you are into atmosphere then this is the one for you. The most awe-inspiring site in these walks and one that is unique in the North East.

  • DISTANCE: 6.4 miles (10.2 km)
  • ASCENT: 1362 feet (415 metres)
  • START: Bowlees Car Park (GR NY 908 283 ).
  • TERRAIN: Woodland path and field path followed by open moorland. The moorland section follows a rough quad bike track over open boggy ground with a short section over pathless grassy tussocks.
  • FGS Grading F9 [ D1, N2, T2, R2, H2]

One of the features of travelling over the moors of Northern England is the number of piles of stones that are identified on the map as a currick. Most walkers naturally assume that a currick is just another type of cairn and this is further compounded by the use of the word on the map to describe anything from a natural rock formation to a cairn.

  • DISTANCE: 11.3 miles (18 km)
  • ASCENT: 1388 feet (423 metres)
  • START: Long layby in the centre of the village of Westgate next to the Methodist Chapel on the north side of the road, approx. 100 metres after the Hare and Hounds pub if driving from the Stanhope direction. (GR NY 906 380)
  • TERRAIN: The walk starts with field paths and walled lane as it makes it's way up the valley side. However most of the walk is over pathless boggy heather moor with some peat hags along the watershed.
  • FGS Grading F8 [ D1, N2, T2, R2, H1]

Five cairns gathered around the trig point on top of the fell commanding a magnificent viewpoint down over Teesdale.

  • DISTANCE: 9.4 miles (15.1 km).
  • ASCENT: 1309 feet (399 metres).
  • START: The centre of Middleton in Teesdale. (GR NY 947 254).
  • TERRAIN: The first half is on high moorland where at times the going can be rough and boggy. There are two serious stream crossings which can be dangerous if the water levels are high. The second half of the walk along the Pennine Way/Teesdale Way is on riverside and field paths.
  • FGS Grading F9 [ D1, N2, T2, R2, H2

Customer Reviews

What do our customers think about this guide?

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The guide provides clear route instructions for each of the eight walks, including detailed route diagrams. There is also plenty of practical information for planning and safety including distance, ascent, terrain, walking time, access and grid references. Each walk chapter also includes information about the sites visited and the local area. All the walks have been grade using the Ferguson Grading System, which gives a very clear indication of the difficulty of the route. Some of the walks are serious undertakings and require an experience and love of the hills. However all of the walks are within the capabilities of the reasonably fit, competent and equipped hill walker who has the basic ability to navigate with map and compass.

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