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Rookhope and the Lead Mines

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Rookhope and the Lead Mines
Author: Claire, Published: 02 Jun 2018 Walk Rating:star1 Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guidestar1 Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guidestar1 Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guidestar0 Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guidestar0 Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guide
County Durham, Weardale
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Rookhope and the Lead Mines
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guide boot Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guide boot Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guide
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A 5 mile circular walk from the village of Rookhope in County Durham. The walking route explores this beautiful area of Weardale in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) taking in a mixture of high moorland, rich flower meadows and grass pastures. There is plenty of wildlife to enjoy including ground-nesting birds such as snipe and lapwing. Along the way you will discover the local rocky stream, Rookhope Burn, as well as many stone remnants of the lead mining industry that dominated this area in the 1700s and 1800s.

The walk has several climbs and descents including a couple of quite steep sections. The ground is generally rough moorland which can be muddy at times and is very challenging and uneven underfoot. You will also follow a few stone tracks and a quiet country lane. You will be sharing many of the pastures with both sheep and cattle. You will need to negotiate a couple of narrow footbridges, some gates, one kissing gate plus 12 stiles. The stiles are a mixture of stone stiles (within stone walls), fence stiles and one low ladder stile (see Gallery image) – at least 6 of the stiles have enclosed fence surrounds so dogs would need a lift over them. In terms of facilities, the village of Rookhope (which you pass through towards the end) has a post office, pub and public toilets. Allow 2.5 hours.

The village of Rookhope is located about 3 miles north of Eastgate and the A689. The walk starts and finishes from a free gravel lay-by parking area just to the west of the village. The post code DL13 2DA will take you to the western edge of the village. From this point, continue west out of the village, cross the cattle grid, pass the stone arch remains of Rookhope Arch within the pasture on your left and, immediately afterwards, you will see the parking area on your right. If you are coming by public transport, Rookhope village is served by buses from Stanhope.

Walk Sections

Start to Low Lintzgarth Cottage
Start to Low Lintzgarth Cottage

Start point: 54.782 lat, -2.1199 long
End point: 54.7801 lat, -2.116 long

Standing in the parking area facing the road, turn left along the road (taking care of any traffic) passing Rookhope Arch within the pasture on your right. This isolated stone arch makes an intriguing sight and is the first of many reminders of a once thriving lead mining industry in this area. The arch is the only surviving fragment of a row of six arches that carried a 2 mile flue, known as Rookhope Chimney, from the smelt works at Lintzgarth across the valley. The flue worked as a horizontal chimney and its purpose was to cool the gases from the smelting floor, which contained vaporised lead. The lead was deposited on the walls of the flue and was either scraped off or washed away with water flowing along the tunnel into special fume tanks. Flowing within the pasture in front of the arch is the large rocky stream known as Rookhope Burn; the name Rookhope translates as valley of the rocks.

Just before you reach the cattle grid ahead, look for a stile and footpath fingerpost on your right. NOTE: You are likely to come across both sheep and cattle in the pastures from this point onwards. Turn right over the stile to enter the pasture and walk ahead over the narrow footbridge across the burn. At the far side, continue ahead climbing up the rough hillside and passing a whitewashed stone house directly on your left.

Immediately after this building, turn left for a few metres and then turn right to follow the vehicle drive leading you uphill. Pass through the wide gate and then turn left to join the stone vehicle track, passing another cottage, Low Lintzgarth Cottage, on your left.

Low Lintzgarth Cottage to Broad Dale House
Low Lintzgarth Cottage to Broad Dale House

Start point: 54.7801 lat, -2.116 long
End point: 54.7791 lat, -2.1029 long

Follow the stone track leading you steadily uphill into the upland moorland. This area is managed as a nature reserve and is an important habitat for many ground nesting birds including black grouse, curlew, red shank, snipe, lapwing and golden plover. In the spring and summer months you are likely to hear their distinctive calls.

Pass through the gate alongside a cattle grid and continue on the track for about another 160 metres to reach a fork in the track alongside a Private Road sign. Take the left-hand branch of track and follow this passing through a metal gate, passing Lintzgarth Farm on your left, passing through a second metal gate (or gateway) and then passing the whitewashed cottage, Saughtree Cottage, on your left.

Just a few paces after this cottage, turn left through a wide wooden gate to enter a meadow. Cross this small meadow diagonally right to exit via another wooden gate. With your back to this gate, cross this second meadow between 11 and 12 o’clock to exit via a stone stile at the far side. Cross the pasture at about 11 o’clock to exit via a wooden gate at the far side. Cross this second pasture diagonally left, heading for the stone farm buildings. Exit the pasture via the stone stile (immediately to the right of the farm buildings) and you will emerge directly in front of the farmhouse, Broad Dale House.

Broad Dale House to Weardale Way
Broad Dale House to Weardale Way

Start point: 54.7791 lat, -2.1029 long
End point: 54.7794 lat, -2.0985 long

Look ahead across the front of the farmhouse and you will see a wooden stile within a stone wall. Use the gravel driveways to reach and cross this stile to enter a large rough hillside pasture. Take the path to the left which leads you downhill, passing an old stone building on your left. The path leads you steeply downhill, heading towards Rookhope village in the valley bottom. Stay with the well-trodden path as it begins to bear right towards the bottom of the pasture. The path leads you down some stone steps to reach a wooden fence stile.

Cross the stile and walk straight ahead on the stone track, passing an industrial unit on your right. (Ahead at this point you will see a bridge over the burn, which we will use on the return leg). Immediately after passing the industrial unit, turn right to pass through the industrial yard and keep ahead to join a stone track. This track is part of the Weardale Way long distance path.

Weardale Way to Roadside
Weardale Way to Roadside

Start point: 54.7794 lat, -2.0985 long
End point: 54.7681 lat, -2.0888 long

Keep ahead on the track, with some old industrial workings and Rookhope Burn on your left. Just a short way along, ignore the slope down to your left, instead stay on the level track ahead. This track was once the trackbed for a railway line built by the Weardale Coal and Iron Company, another reminder of the area’s industrial past.

Stay ahead on the main stone track, ignoring any paths to the left. You will notice the undulating nature of the moorland up to your right. This area contains the old mining shafts. In the 1800s Rookhope became a bustling, noisy place, dedicated to extracting minerals out of the ground in the surrounding hills. In its heyday the village population approached 1,000, with ten shops, several churches and chapels, an Institute and generous sports fields.

Stay on the track, passing through three gates (or the stiles alongside if the gates are locked). Continue on the track as it leads you through the farmyard of Smailsburn Farm via another two gates. The track now leads you gently uphill through a pasture with power lines running parallel on your left.

Towards the top of the pasture, the track peters out and you will see a Weardale Way yellow arrow on one of the wooden pylons. NOTE: This next path is not obvious so follow the directions carefully and use the App’s GPS map as an extra guide. Turn left immediately before this pylon and, where the tractor markings end, simply keep ahead through the centre of the field, heading steadily downhill (with a stone wall running parallel across to your right).

The subtle path leads you through the low stone remains of a wall and building and, once you are over the brow of the descent, you will see the wooden stile towards the left-hand edge of the bottom fence ahead. Make your way down to this stile (if you use the ridge along the left-hand edge you may find this to be the driest and easiest route) and cross it to reach the roadside.

Roadside to Quiet Lane
Roadside to Quiet Lane

Start point: 54.7681 lat, -2.0888 long
End point: 54.7676 lat, -2.0838 long

Taking care of traffic, turn left along the road for about 190 metres, crossing a small stream to reach a footpath fingerpost for the Weardale Way on your right. Turn right over the low ladder stile and then cross the narrow footbridge leading you over the beautiful Rookhope Burn. At the far side, cross the stone stile (with metal bars) to enter the corner of a sheep pasture. Turn right to walk through the sheep pasture with the burn running down to your right.

Stay in the lower half of the field, with first a wire fence running on your right and then a stone wall running on your right. There is a small stream tributary that runs down to the burn across your path – this can be very wet underfoot but there are some stepping stones to help. Where the stone wall on your right changes to a wire fence again, look up the hillside diagonally left to see a metal gate and fingerpost in the top boundary. Bear left, heading steeply up the pasture, to reach this gate and pass through it to reach a junction with a quiet lane.

Quiet Lane to Burn Bridge
Quiet Lane to Burn Bridge

Start point: 54.7676 lat, -2.0838 long
End point: 54.7804 lat, -2.0986 long

Turn left to follow the lane, taking care of any occasional traffic and taking time to enjoy the beautiful views across the valley to your left. The famous poet W. H. Auden once called Rookhope 'the most wonderfully desolate of all the dales' and it is not hard to see why.

After 0.6 miles the lane leads you down to a T-junction at the edge of Rookhope village. Turn right and follow the road leading you into the village. As you reach the village centre, pass the post office on your left and follow the road as it bends left to pass the public toilets on your right and the village pub on your left.

Follow the road as it bends right and, just a few paces later (after crossing a stream), turn left onto the tarmac track signed as a public footpath and part of the Weardale Way. Follow the track as it bends right and then left to cross Rookhope Burn via a slab bridge. If you look ahead here, you will see the industrial unit that you passed on the outward leg.

Burn Bridge to End
Burn Bridge to End

Start point: 54.7804 lat, -2.0986 long
End point: 54.7822 lat, -2.1199 long

Walk ahead towards the industrial unit and, as you draw level with the front of this, turn right onto the side track. This is a permissive track which continues with the burn running on your right. You will come to a stile ahead. Cross the stile, continue on the track and, a little further along, stay with the path as it bears left up a bank slope to join a slightly higher ridge path.

Cross the next stile ahead and, few paces later (with the start of some stone properties on your right), dog-leg right then left to join the signed public footpath (marked with a yellow arrow). Pass through the metal kissing gate and follow the obvious path ahead through the pasture. Cross the next stile ahead and you will notice you have drawn level with a whitewashed cottage to your left and a footbridge to your right (which you should recognise from the outward leg).

From this point, we will be retracing our steps back to the starting point. To do this, turn right across the bridge and keep ahead to take the stile out to the road. Turn left along the road, passing Rookhope Arch on your left, to reach the parking area on your right where the walk began.

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network Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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5 Gallery Images for: "Rookhope and the Lead Mines"

10849_0clairesharpuk1527959802 Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 02 Jun 2018
Wonderful meadow that you will walk through on the route
10849_0clairesharpuk1527959918 Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 02 Jun 2018
There is just one ladder stile on the walk it has generous treads and so isn't too challenging.
10849_0clairesharpuk1527960084 Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 02 Jun 2018
St Johns church in Rookhope
10849_0clairesharpuk1527967649 Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 02 Jun 2018
Lintzgarth Smelt Mill, located on the south side of the Rookhope Burn, was the smeltmill for all the leadmines in the Rookhope Valley from 1740.
10849_0clairesharpuk1527967714 Rookhope and the Lead Mines, County Durham Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 02 Jun 2018
Rockhope mining operations

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