Organised Walk Around Shincliffe!

On Saturday 29th December 2018, my sister in law, Alison, who runs the company ‘Journey to Discovery’ had organised a Christmas ‘Bobble hat’ walk in the Durham area.  She told me a few days before that quite a few people had shown interest and she double checked with me if I was still coming because she had almost 16 people told her they were coming, and she wanted my help.


We all met up at Sunderland Bridge which is near Croxdale on the River Wear.  Most had fulfilled the brief and were sporting Christmas Bobble hats, except me, no way was I gonna wear one.  I’m from the old school that head wear is for practical purposes.  I wore my trusty Berghaus ‘Dut’, which once the winter sun got out was swapped for my peak cap.


Ali gave everyone a briefing and forms that needed to be signed and before long we were on the footpath NE under the A 167 then through the woods to Croxdale Hall.  The route is fairly clear and it continued to Croxdale Woods.

At this point the group also consisted of 6 or 7 dogs so the group was pretty lively and at points were stretched out a good few metres, but that’s why Ali wanted me there, ‘Tail End Charlie’ to pick up any stragglers.

The route swang east around Butterby Woods up to High Butterby Farm where a group photo was taken and Ali’s stash of Christmas cake was consumed.  I had a little look at the path we were about to take down into Shincliffe Wood and it was muddy and there were quite a few twigs and branches poking down into unsuspecting eyes, especially for the taller of the group so warnings were given to watch feet and eyes.


The route drops quite quickly as it joins the Wear at the bottom of the slippery path but even though there were a few slips and near misses but all backsides were clear of mud and no eyes had been popped out, bonus!  I must say, this stretch of the route I have walked a million times and I never get bored of it.  The Wear has a good selection of birds using it and this is where the path stays level so you can look about at the scenery instead of staring at the floor in case you end up on your arse.

Ali had explained in the joining instructions a refreshment break would be taken at the garden centre in Shincliffe which I think was a good place, well, that or The Rose Tree pub and I think it was ideally placed for some of the tired legs and feet at the rear of the group.

Sat in the centre’s café it was quite clear that people were in very good spirits and everyone was getting on fine, even the ones who had just met were talking like they’d known each other for years and a good deal of hilarity could be heard.


After a good break, it was time to make a move for the route back, not before Milo the Cocker-Poo helped out the staff at the garden centre by watering a few of the ornamental plants.  Back on the track we walked in on, we took a left turn east up to West Grange then went on to join Strawberry Lane which is a clear route through the farmland and a great view across the area.


We were a good few miles into the walk at this point and we had regained the height lost in Shincliffe Wood on the route in when we took the steep path back up through the woods to West Grange.  The slower of the group, who had struggled on some of the hills were still laughing and joking, even though I know some had a couple of feet problems and tired legs.

Strawberry Lane took us south for a good distance, passed Pigeon Plantation to a 4 way junction in a small copse.  A turn right west, passed High Croxdale all the way back to Croxdale Hall to re-join the first part of the route back to the start.

This walk was really good craic, I made a few friends and actually spoke to people I didn’t know socially, which is not like me.

Ali showed great form on this walk, she has a great ability to make people feel at ease and can control with out being controlling, if that makes sense.

Another great route not too far from my doorstep!



Route recce around Embleton, Co. Durham.

Thought I’d turn over a new leaf and bring my blog back to life, it’s been some time since I posted a walk and had not been motivated enough to write about anything, but after writing a few Trip Advisor reviews I thought I’d show my blog some attention.
My sister in law owns Journey To Discovery, a guided walks venture, and she asked me if I’d recce a route with her in the area, so I said I would have a look out with her on my day off.
We met at the car park on the A689 on the north side near the bridge where the walkway from Hurworth Burn Reservoir crosses. It had been raining the whole journey to the spot but seemed to ease off as I pulled into the ‘free’ car park and met up with Ali.
We had a quick chat as I donned my day sack and I greeted my old mate Bruce, the enormous German Shepherd. As we chatted the rain started again so we made tracks and headed north east along a track towards Low Swainston and walked through the farm , heading north up to Embleton.
There’s a few buildings in Embleton but it is apparently a medieval village, like Swainston we’d just passed. After turning right and checking out the derelict church, the track drops down into a dip that someone has built a great, hidden house in fantastic grounds. The path goes straight up through a gate and across a large field called Embleton Moor. The path goes up to ’11 oclock’ and drops down into a beck and over a wooden foot bridge.
By this time it had been raining horizontal and the waterproofs had been put to the test. We laughed about the first time we went out walking about 8 years ago, the weather was exactly the same and it cost me a mobile phone due to getting so soaked.
The path circumnavigates

a large field and then heads north towards Embleton Old Hall. The path then goes around the house and grounds initially but cuts through the rear of the garden onto the track out of the grounds, west on another track towards the Castle Eden Walkway. We decided we’d stay on the small track running parallel ish with the walkway to Green Lane Cottages. Here we joined the walkway south down to the a car park and 4.9 miles later, back at the car.
A good short range route sorted for future use by Ali’s clients, hopefully the weather will be better next time.

Good dog walk near Shildon

We’ve been saving the walks for Country Walking magazine for ages now and today seemed a good day to have a flick through the little pile of cut out pages and find a nice little local walk.  We settled for a nice 7 1/2 miler around the Shildon area!IMG_6945

Great parking at the Railway Museum and free to boot.  Into the museum area and right down the lines towards the Welcome Centre further down the track.  Passed the playground and into a quiet part of Shildon through a small housing estate and a bit of industrial estate then out into the countryside.


The route follows the old railway lines passed some old engine rooms and old railway sleepers which look like they’ve been well preserved.  From the route, great views of Bishop Auckland can be seen and the surrounding farm land.  And the KFC sign, which Kel pointed out, at least twice.


As the route ascends up into Brusselton Woods where the path needs some concentration and easily to lose the ‘scent’, trick is try and follow previous boot marks and not to get fooled by heavily used deer tracks.  Plus, the shoulder high Ferns don’t help, luckily Alfie, our trusty Springer is a great pathfinder so we have an advantage.  Once we were out of the woods the route hit the road a bit but it’s not so busy and very pleasant.


The route back towards Shildon was through scenic farm land and was well trodden, even through the farmers fields that were 99% cattle/sheep free, yay! Back into Shildon and back to the museum and a few pics for some of my spotter friends, not me, honestly!


Nice little walk with no dramas.  Only advice i’d pass on is use your head in the woods otherwise you might get a bit ‘temporarily displaced’ and the midges are hungry.


Great day out, great local walk, recommended!