A short and relatively easy walk which explores the lesser known Durham Denes that lie to the south of Castle Eden Dene.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
From the A19 or A181, drive into Castle Eden and follow the road curving right past the war memorial and down until you see the Castle Eden Inn on your left. Park on the roadside near the inn or in the village hall car park which is opposite the inn. (the village hall is the second smaller building, the taller building is the Masonic Lodge, please do not park at the Masonic Lodge.) This walk presumes you have parked at the village hall.
(D/A) From the car park, cross the road with the Castle Eden Inn in front of you. Turn right and walk down through the village. Look out for a small bungalow on your left just before a track. Turn left and walk along the track passing the gates to some houses. When there are fields on either side keep an eye out for a path crossing from the left and continuing along the bottom edge of the field on your right. (yellow arrows)
(1) Turn right and cross the stile or go through the gap in the fence (whichever is present). Follow the path along the edge of the field and go through a gap in the fence, Descend through light woodland to the bottom of Bleachery Dene. Follow the path rightwards with the stream to your left until you cross a footbridge, then follow the path upwards to come out on the edge of another field.
(2) Turn left again and walk along the field boundary with the woodland of Bleachery Dene to your left. Do not get distracted by any tracks down into the dene; the descent is steep, muddy and used by trials bikes for practice. Instead, keep to the side of the field until you come to two obvious stiles.
(3) Take the right hand stile and cross from the field into a meadow with a few trees. Descend diagonally to a footbridge. Opposite you will see the workings that are taking place to remove spoil from the old Hesleden pit heap. After crossing the footbridge follow the path into Hesleden Dene. (In medieval times this would have been known as Hazel Dene, giving its name to the village of Hesleden). The path is pleasant as is winds it's way along the dene bottom before ascending through the woods to the old railway track beside Hesleden village. This is the Hart to Haswell bridleway/cycleway
(4) Turn right and follow the bridleway which follows the line of the disused railway. Take care as this is also part of the national cycle network and passing cyclist don't always give a warning when approaching from behind.
Continue until you see a barn in a field on your left. The path splits and a narrower path lies parallel to the bridleway, take this smaller, parallel path but it will be muddy after prolonged rain. (If it is muddy continue along the railway and look out for a stile on the left with a path leading more steeply down) The path and the stile both lead down to the entrance to a tunnel.
(5) Go through a gate, turn right and take the short tunnel under the old railway, then continue along the track with fences on either side to Low Hesleden Farm. At the farm take the gate on the right onto the road. The farm dogs are known for their barking and they may well escort you along the road and through the village to the triangle of grass. At the triangle, turn right and follow the path past some fields to the edge of a wood.
(6) Enter the wood which still has some standing gravestones. There was once a church (St. Mary's) located in the area, but this was demolished in the early 1960's and its location is marked by a post.
Follow the path slanting down to the right through the trees to a stile (a little further on there is a footbridge over the stream); this is the lower portion of Hesleden Dene. Take the path on the right over the stile and follow it with the stream on your left, through the trees and across a meadow to a second footbridge. (You can gain this footbridge from a path leading down from Low Hesleden Farm but you will miss out on the abandoned graveyard)
(7) Cross the bridge and follow the path uphill to the right of a gully and the with a field on the left. The path crosses through into the field where there is a wooden electricity pylon. Turn right and follow the edge of the field always with the edge of the woods on your right. The path curves around the bottom end of the field and back on itself; ahead of you will be the mound of Battersley Hill. The woods will peter out to become a hedgerow, cross through a gap and follow the path/track up to Hulam (farm) and a junction with another track.
(8) Turn right and follow the track with a hedge on your right. You will see the old Hesleden pit ahead of you and then you will return to the stiles at (3). Retrace your footsteps back to (1). At (1) go straight ahead, over the track and into the next field. Follow it with the hedge on your right, then at the end of the field turn right into the adjacent field and follow the path in the same direction but with the hedge on the left. You will arrive at the junction with the bridleway / old railway line.
(9) Turn left and follow the bridleway. Look out for a path on the left which takes a narrow alleyway between the gardens of two houses.
(10) Turn left into the alleyway, this will lead you out onto a road behind the car-park of the Castle Eden Inn. Walk around the car-park, cross the road and back to the village hall. (if you miss the alley you will arrive at a bridge, pass under and take the steps to the left, these will bring you out at the side of the bridge with the Castle Eden Inn opposite and to your right) (D/A).
D/A : km 0 - alt. 117m - Castle Eden
1 : km 0.79 - alt. 92m - Intersection
2 : km 1.13 - alt. 90m - Crimdon Beck
3 : km 2.12 - alt. 0m - Fork
4 : km 2.77 - alt. 101m - Bridleway
5 : km 3.6 - alt. 91m - Gate
6 : km 4.5 - alt. 79m - Wood
7 : km 5.03 - alt. 66m - Bridge
8 : km 6.27 - alt. 102m - Hulam
9 : km 9.02 - alt. 107m - Bridleway
10 : km 9.6 - alt. 114m - Alleyway
D/A : km 9.75 - alt. 117m - Castle Eden
It can be muddy in all of the denes so boots are recommended.
You will need to take everything you need with you.
Good food and refreshments at the Castle Eden Inn. I can recommend their 'Lite Bites' menu served until 6:00pm.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
The disused railway line was once part of the rail network which linked collieries but the demise of the mines at Wingate and Hesleden lead to its eventual closure. These old 'lines' now form good bridleways and are part of the cycle network.
This is a varied an interesting walk with much to see and enjoy. In early spring and early summer oarts of the dene are covered in wild garlic. Those who enjoy quiet will be rewarded with glimpses of shy wildlife.
If you are interested in exploring further why not try this route? https://www.visorando.com/en/walk-the-le...
Or for a full exploration of Castle Edene Dene...https://www.visorando.com/en/walk-castle...
Global average : 4.33/5
Number of opinions : 1
Description quality : 5/5
Routemap quality : 5/5
Walk interest : 3/5
Thanks for the comments. I will edit the text to advise it is best done in a dry spell from autumn to spring when the grass is shorter and not too muddy.
I will call down and look at point 6 as the farmer should not be blocking footpaths with barbed wire. Thanks
Global average : 4.33 / 5
Date of walk
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Average
Despite my comments below we did enjoy the walk and will try it again after harvest time and on a clearer day.
We only did the section of the walk from point 4 through 5,6,7,8, 3 and back to 4 on Sunday 27 June 2021 on a misty morning following three days of mist and drizzle, so not the best choice. Also it was the time of year when the grass is high in the fields. The previous days rain had laid the grass flat making it difficult to find the path through the fields, between 5 and 6, 7, 8 and 3. But this may not have been a problem if we'd done the walk the previous Sunday. However the first half of the path between 5 and 6 and the path between 7 and 8 and back to 3 is badly maintained or rather not maintained by the farmer.
In point 6 you mention that there is a path leading down from Low Hesleden Farm however as far as we could see there is a barbed wire fence across the entrance.
A varied and interesting circular walk from Castle Eden. It starts and finishes near the Castle Eden Inn which is well known for its good beer and good food. Explore the lesser known denes that lie to the south of the village via the disused railway which is now a bridle path and part of the national cycle network. Traverse the coastal path north before dropping to the beach and then heading back via the better known Castle Eden Dene.
The full tour of Castle Eden Dene taking in all the best parts with varied and interesting scenery:- Old buildings, open country, ancient woodland, the North East coastline, a magnesium limestone dene with its craggy outcrops, a meandering river and steep-sided gorge. There is a multitude of flora and fauna; if you are quiet you may see squirrels and/or deer. Starts and finished near the Castle Eden Inn which is well known for its good beer and good food.
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