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Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland

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Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland
Author: Claire, Published: 03 Jun 2018 Walk Rating:star1 Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland, County Durham Walking Guidestar1 Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland, County Durham Walking Guidestar1 Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland, County Durham Walking Guidestar1 Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland, County Durham Walking Guidestar0 Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland, County Durham Walking Guide
County Durham, North Pennines
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland, County Durham Walking Guide boot Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland, County Durham Walking Guide boot Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland, County Durham Walking Guide
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0002_sunny_intervals Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland, County Durham Walking GuideToday's weather
18 °C, Partly cloudy, Wind: 0 mph WSW
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A 6 mile circular walk in the area of Baldersdale, just north of Barnard Castle in County Durham, within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The walk leads you on a journey to discover the gems of this beautiful valley, including the River Balder which flows through three large reservoirs here – Balderhead Reservoir, Blackton Reservoir and Hury Reservoir, as well as the flower-rich meadows and the wild terrain of Cotherstone Moor. The rich habitats are home to a wide variety of birds and the vistas are truly beautiful.

The walk includes several climbs and descents throughout. It follows a mixture of tarmac access lanes, grass and stone tracks and paths through grass meadows and pastures (some of which can be uneven and muddy). You will need to negotiate several gates and a few footbridges. One wooden footbridge has wooden stiles at each end (but there is an alternative ford in the narrow stream which has stepping stones) and you will also need to negotiate a couple of stone stiles as you pass alongside cattle grids (these should be easy enough for most dogs). You will be sharing the paths with free-roaming sheep for almost the entire length of the walk and you will also cross at least two pastures that are likely to be holding cattle. There are no facilities on route but there are picnic benches in the parking area at the start. Allow 3 hours.

The walk starts and finishes at the free Northumbrian Water car park at the northern end of the Balderhead Reservoir Causeway. The car park is located about 2 miles west of the small village of Hury. The nearest post code is for a nearby farm, DL12 9UX, and this would take you just half a mile too far west on the road. Heading west from Hury, continue for 2 miles and the access drive for the reservoir is through some metal gates on your left, signed to Blackton Grange. Follow the drive over a cattle grid (taking care of sheep from this point) and you will find the car park on your right just before the reservoir.

Walk Sections

Start to Blackton Grange
Start to Blackton Grange

Start point: 54.5634 lat, -2.1114 long
End point: 54.557 lat, -2.1086 long

From the car park, follow the tarmac access drive leading you along the reservoir dam, with a stone wall and the large reservoir on your right. The reservoir to your right is Balderhead Reservoir, the first in a chain of three reservoirs on the River Balder, a tributary of the River Tees. It was the last of the three reservoirs to be constructed, with work being completed in 1964. This dam is 48 metres high and about 900 metres long and the reservoirs supply drinking water across Teesdale. To your left you can see the second reservoir, Blackton Reservoir and beyond this, but currently out of sight, is Hury Reservoir. The surrounding land is grazed by sheep and also used as nesting sites by birds such as lapwings and curlews.

At the far side of the dam wall, swing hard left to join the stone track. Stay with this stone track as it leads you through a metal vehicle gate, continues downhill and leads you through another gate to reach the buildings and parking area of Blackton Grange. This was once a Youth Hostel but today acts as holiday accommodation for large groups.

Blackton Grange to Clove Lodge
Blackton Grange to Clove Lodge

Start point: 54.557 lat, -2.1086 long
End point: 54.5552 lat, -2.1015 long

Go ahead between the buildings and take the gate ahead to continue on the grass and stone track which meanders ahead. Just a few metres after passing through a gateway within a stone wall, you will reach a waymarker post which marks a T-junction in the track. This is a junction with the Pennine Way long distance path.

Our route will continue to the right in a moment, but first we take a short detour left to reach the bridge, Blackton Bridge. This makes the ideal spot to view the wetland area on your right. Blackton Reservoir is the shallowest of the three reservoirs and is fringed with wetlands. This is a haven for wildfowl and you may see coots, moorhens, reed buntings, snipe and redshank.

When you have finished at the bridge retrace your steps back to the junction and bear left (the equivalent of turning right from the original path). Follow the track leading you across a stream bridge and through a metal gate. (This gate can be difficult to open, but there is a stone stile a few metres to the left if necessary). Continue on the track uphill for about 50 metres to reach a fingerpost (which marks branches of the Pennine Way in all three directions).

We will be following the main branch of the Pennine Way so stay with the main track which swings right, leading you uphill. Stay with the stone and grass track leading you fairly steeply uphill and, once you are over the brow of this rise, you will pass through a gate to enter the courtyard of Clove Lodge.

Clove Lodge to Willoughby Hall
Clove Lodge to Willoughby Hall

Start point: 54.5552 lat, -2.1015 long
End point: 54.565 lat, -2.0699 long

Go ahead across the courtyard, pass through the gateway ahead and then turn right through the property entrance gate. Follow the stone and then tarmac access lane leading you uphill and swinging left. Ignore the two fingerposts marking paths off to the right (including one for the Pennine Way), instead continue along the tarmac access lane.

You will be following this lane for a distance of about 2km. Across to your left you will have lovely views across the pastures of the Baldersdale valley and up to the right are the wild slopes of Cotherstone Moor. Along the way you will pass a few farms on your left and the prominent rocky outcrop known as Goldsborough Carr on your right. Before you draw level with this outcrop, you will notice a branch of the Pennine Way crosses the access lane – ignore this path and simply continue on the lane.

Further along, the road swings left to reach a cattle grid. NOTE: This next field is likely to be holding cattle so take extra care. Pass through the gate alongside the grid and follow the tarmac lane leading you downhill through the pasture. At the bottom, exit via another gate alongside a cattle grid and stay with the lane as it swings right to pass the farm buildings of Willoughby Hall on your left.

Willoughby Hall to Blackton Gate
Willoughby Hall to Blackton Gate

Start point: 54.565 lat, -2.0699 long
End point: 54.5648 lat, -2.0827 long

Continue on the lane, passing through a gate alongside a third cattle grid. About 80 metres later, turn sharp left to join the entrance track for the reservoir. Pass through a gate alongside a cattle grid and follow the track for about 500 metres, to reach a wooden gate alongside a cattle grid just to your right. Fork right to pass through this gate and follow the grassy track leading you downhill.

At the bottom of the slope, turn right to cross the footbridge and grass causeway across the end of Hury Reservoir (which is to your right). At the far side, do NOT walk ahead up the bank, instead turn left to follow the grass path with part of the reservoir down to your left and a stone wall running on your right. The path leads you gently uphill to reach a gate, at which point you will have drawn level with the dam wall for Blackton Reservoir.

Blackton Gate to Footbridge
Blackton Gate to Footbridge

Start point: 54.5648 lat, -2.0827 long
End point: 54.5639 lat, -2.0942 long

Pass through the gate but do NOT keep ahead on the grass path. Instead turn immediately right through a metal gate in the stone wall to enter a field. This is the first of a series of eight fields that you will be crossing for the return leg – they are a mixture of hay meadows, sheep pastures and cattle pastures. With your back to the gate, walk diagonally left (about 10 o’clock) across this first field (heading for the middle of the trees at the far side) to reach a gate in the field corner.

Go through the gate and walk ahead with a tree line on your left and a stone wall on your right. As you reach a tree line heading off to your left, turn left to walk along the length of this second field with this tree line running on your right. At the far side, pass through the wooden gate to enter the third field and keep directly ahead, passing an old stone barn on your right and then continuing with a stone wall on your right.

At the end of this third field, take the right-hand of the two gates ahead and continue ahead along the length of a fourth field, with a stone wall now on your left. Towards the end of this field, keep ahead on the grass track between stone walls. This leads you to a wooden footbridge (with stiles each end). Cross this to reach the fifth field (if the stiles pose a problem for larger dogs, there is a stream crossing point with a bridle gate just to the right of the bridge).

Footbridge to Low Birk Hatt
Footbridge to Low Birk Hatt

Start point: 54.5639 lat, -2.0942 long
End point: 54.5608 lat, -2.1008 long

Keep straight ahead through the centre of this fifth field, exiting via the gate at the far side into the sixth field (which contains a barn just to your left). Cross the centre of the field, exiting via the right-hand of the two gates within the stone wall ahead.

Maintain your direction across this seventh field and take the gate to enter the eighth field. Follow the field edge (with a stone wall on your left) as it swings steadily left and leads you downhill. At the bottom of the field you will reach a gate ahead, with the farm buildings of Lower Birk Hatt on your left.

Low Birk Hatt to End
Low Birk Hatt to End

Start point: 54.5608 lat, -2.1008 long
End point: 54.5636 lat, -2.1113 long

Pass through the gate ahead, keep ahead for a few paces and turn right for a short distance to reach a T-junction with the tarmac access drive. Turn right to join the drive and you will reach a cattle grid. Use the gate or stone stile to pass alongside the grid to enter Hannah’s meadow. Follow the tarmac drive leading you uphill through the meadow.

Hannah’s Meadow is a managed nature reserve and wildflower meadow. In the late spring and early summer, you will be treated to a multi-coloured spectacle of flowers. It is named after Hannah Hauxwell who became well-known through an ITV documentary in 1973, Too Long a Winter, which followed her life as she single-handedly worked the farmland of Low Birk Hatt under very frugal conditions.

Follow the tarmac drive uphill, passing alongside two more cattle grids (via the gates or stone stiles) and exit via a gate at the top to reach the road. Turn left along the road for about 300 metres and then turn left into the reservoir entrance drive. Take the gate alongside the cattle grid and follow the drive down to the car park where the walk began.

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network Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland, County Durham Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by 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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2 gallery images for "Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland"

10869_0clairesharpuk1528056264 Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland, County Durham Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 03 Jun 2018
Blackton Bridge makes the ideal spot to view the wetland area
10869_0clairesharpuk1528056478 Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland, County Durham Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 03 Jun 2018
The wooden footbridge (with stiles each end) between Blackton Gate and Low Birk Hatt

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