RAIL HERITAGE: Remains of the Haggerleases line
RAIL HERITAGE: Remains of the Haggerleases line

THE history of Cockfield Fell – England’s largest scheduled ancient monument – is being celebrated as part of a two-week heritage festival.

A walk across the fell organised by the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway will take place on Monday, September 23.

The Darlington and Stockton Railway was designed to be made up of not just a main line but also branch lines carrying the public as well as coal or other goods. One of the first to be built was the Haggerleases branch line, which follows the River Gaunless below Cockfield Fell.

The walk will not just tell the story of the line but also the industrial history of the fell from the Iron Age through to the creation of the railways.

For those interested in the fell’s past but unable to take part in the walk, a second event has been organised by Bishop Auckland Civic Society for Tuesday, September 24.

Local historian and journalist Chris Lloyd will give a talk entitled Pits, Pockmarks and Haggerleases: the Story of Cockfield Fell.

Both events are part of the first Bishop Auckland History and Heritage Festival, a two-week programme of activities to celebrate the town’s past which continues to September 28. Organised by Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone (HAZ), the festival features everything from a showcase of Norman Cornish's poetry to first class travel on the Weardale Railway and a tour of the deer park at Auckland Castle.

A partnership between Historic England and Durham County Council, Bishop Auckland HAZ is a five-year project to revitalise the historic market town and regenerate it as a vibrant place for local people, businesses and visitors.

Dr Bob McManners, chairman of the Bishop Auckland HAZ Advisory Group, said: “Thanks to the talent and commitment of many local people and organisations, we’ve been able to create a wonderful and varied festival programme.

“There’s something for everyone to enjoy, from talks and exhibitions to train rides and guided walks.”

The walk across Cockfield Fell is a free event. Those taking part will leave from opposite St Mary’s Church, Cockfield, at 10am. It is expected to take up to four hours.

For details, contact Trish Pemberton, chairwoman of the Friends of the Darlington and Stockton Railway on 01388 833229, or email trish.pemberton@btconnect


Pits, Pockmarks and Haggerleases: the Story of Cockfield Fell takes place at St John's School, Woodhouse Lane, Bishop Auckland, at 7.30pm and admission is £2 on the door or book by calling 03000 262052.