Walk of the week: Step back in time on Cockfield Fell
For this week’s walk, Kirsty Brien, a member of the outdoor team at the TCR Hub, heads to Cockfield Fell, with its rich industrial heritage. The route follows quiet lanes, tracks and old railway lines. There is a short section on a road with no path (about 350m) so walkers should make themselves visible to traffic. Highlights include great views, herds of horses and sheep and plenty of opportunities to see several species of birds
OUR walk starts in the village of Cockfield, once home to Jeremiah Dixon (1773-1779) famed for the Mason-Dixon railway in the USA and now a thriving village surrounded by beautiful Teesdale countryside, but with some incredible history, particularly with regard to our industrial heritage.
1. Starting on Front Street (just downhill from the pharmacy), cross over the road and follow Jubilee Court onto Coronation Terrace.
Just beyond the end of the houses, the road bends sharply round to the left. Keep straight ahead, through the stone stile and onto the signposted public footpath.
2. On reaching the road turn left, and follow it for 350m (please take extra care as there is only a narrow grass verge to walk on). On reaching Burnt Houses, cross over and follow Scotland Lane, which has the high wall and woods of Raby Castle on its left hand side.
Follow the lane for 1.4 km (about 20-25 minutes). Be aware of very occasional traffic.
At the end of the Raby Castle wall, and a small crossroads, cross over the cattle grid, staying straight ahead on the track running along the left hand side of a large open field with great views in all directions.
3. At the end of the field go through a large metal gate and immediately turn right through another metal gate, onto the old railway track. The path quickly becomes high-sided as you go under an old railway bridge and through a cutting. At the far end is a metal gate, pass through onto the open fellside with panoramic views as far as Woodland, Butterknowle and down to the River Gaunless cutting a path through the valley below.
4. Keep following the old railway and pass Peathrow Farm buildings up to your right. Here you will need to negotiate a small tricky section as the old bridge is closed and no longer safe to cross. Make a little (often muddy) detour, a few metres down to the right, before rejoining the old track.
Ahead you will see the houses that make up the old Cockfield Station. Just before them, follow the path around to the right of the uppermost house and sub-station. Cross the stile to meet the road.
5. Turn left onto the road and almost immediately look for a stile on the opposite side (footpath sign). Cross over the stile and you are back onto the fell.
Follow the track that trends gently uphill towards Cockfield village, rejoin the main road through the village and to your starting point on Front Street.
Make sure to look back and see if you can make out the giant earthworks of the Roman fortified farm that it is believed was built to serve as a supply post for Roman troops on their way to the most northerly outpost of the empire at Hadrian’s Wall.
What the kids thought
Seth, 6: I love the nature on Cockfield fell, it makes me happy. I like seeing the horses, finding mushrooms and butterflies and I like the gorse when it is all bright and yellow.
Esme, 11: I love all of the history, thinking you could be walking where Romans camped and where the steam trains ran, it’s very cool.
As well as providing ideas for enjoying walks you can all enjoy during the current lockdown, the TCR Hub team is running a range of online activities for you to access via the Zoom platform. With workshops ranging from Yoga and jewellery making to cookery and crafts, go to www.tcrhub.com to see what you can tap into and don’t hesitate to get in touch with any queries by emailing email@example.com.
Stay local – if this walk is not local to you, please save it for when restrictions are lifted.
Give other walkers plenty of room at gates, narrow path sections, bridges etc.
Take a map as well as the walk notes and appropriate kit and food/ drink for the weather.
Walk length: 6km/3.7 miles. Approximate walk time: 1.5 hours.