Stanhope Walk: Stanhope Bridge to Hag Bridge
Distance: 4 miles    Time: 1h 40min    Difficulty: Beginner    Ascent: 276 ft

Description:  This is an easy, low level walk following an unspoilt section of the   River Wear on the outward leg where dippers, kingfishers, goosander and herons may be seen.  The return is on a quiet, wonderfully scenic stretch of typical Weardale back road,  passing some fine stone buildings.
Map: Explorer OL31 North Pennines

 

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HagBridgeMap

 

Hag Bridge Graph

 

 

Start: Take the A689 from Stanhope towards Eastgate and at the outskirts of Stanhope turn left on the B6278 towards Middleton. After 300 yards park in the long layby on the left.
(To start from Eastgate take the A689 towards Stanhope and after 300 yards turn right on the small road signed to Horsley Hall.  Just after crossing the River Wear on Hag Bridge there are two parking places on the right.)

Directions:

  1.  Carry on along the B6278 in the same direction for 100 yards and just before Stanhope Bridge cross the road to turn through the metal pedestrian gate on the right. (Stanhope Bridge is an attractive single arch bridge built over a narrow stretch of the River Wear where it runs through a rocky gorge. The bridge is medieval in origin and was widened in the 18th century. It is Grade 2 listed.   The gorge is one of the few areas in Weardale where the very hard rock of the Whin Sill which underlies much of Northern England is visible at the surface).
  2.  Pass a beautiful flooded quarry on the right to reach a water gauging station with a weir after 300 yards, where salmon and sea trout leap during their annual run upstream to breed.   After another 100 yards you reach a small clearing where you ignore the obvious track heading uphill ahead and turn left between two concrete posts to cross the Weardale railway and then cross a stile into a large field.
  3.  Follow the fence on the left through the field, then after 600 yards take the waymarked wooden gate to the left of the house ahead to reach another gate. The path now runs in a narrow strip between the Wear and the disused railway track. Where the path is rutted due to the collapse of a stone wall there is usually a more comfortable alternative nearer the river. Further on you may be intimidated by cattle grazing in this narrow channel and may need to  to outflank them taking a gate on to the railway for a short distance. (This section of the Weardale Railway closed in 1993 when the output of the Eastgate cement works was transferred to the road. The Weardale Railways have produced a brief history of the line: http://www.weardale-railway.org.uk/history.htm.)   Pass through a gate into a caravan park, then at the end of the park take a wooden gate on the left to reach the road.
  4.   Turn left over Hag Bridge (built in 1996 to replace a stone bridge damaged by floods the previous year) and then after 200 yards turn left on to the quiet back road, where after an easy short initial climb there are unobstructed views over the Wear valley and down to Stanhope. On the way you pass the Grade 2 listed Horsley Hall, a 17th century country house, now a hotel.
  5.   After a mile where the road bends sharp right either follow the footpath sign over 3 fields to rejoin the road (this may involve some gate climbing) or continue on the road which after a further mile meets the B6278.  Turn left here over Stanhope Bridge to the lay by.

 

Hag Bridge Map You can download the .GPX file of the walk for your GPS – (as a .zip file)  Please Click HERE to download
Gallery:

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Video of the walk:

 

 If you are interested, why not visit: www.weardale-railway.org.uk/history.htm