Hartlepool – Durham Route Description
This pilgrimage route begins at St Hilda’s Hartlepool and follows where possible the likely route to Durham of King Canute’s pilgrimage of 1,000 years ago. That pilgrimage started in Whitby and it would be good to explore possibilities of extending the route from there at a later stage. There are three significant churches on the route, St Mary Magdalene in Hart, St Mary Magdalene in Trimdon and St Helen’s in Kelloe and with the cathedral dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as St Cuthbert, the route has a distinctly feminine flavour! Points of interest are described in red.
The total distance is 45 kilometres or 28 miles. I have organised the route into four sections of between 9 and 15 kilometres.
Hartlepool to Hart – 9km
St Hilda’s Hartlepool
This pilgrimage begins at the historic church of St Hilda. After your visit, turn left and walk out of the churchyard, across the road and down the lane to the sea to enjoy good views of Heugh Lighthouse in the foreground, Hartlepool and Teeside across the bay and the Yorkshire Moors in the distance. Turn left to walk round the headland. You will soon pass the statue of Andy Capp on your left. Andy Capp was the creation of a local cartoonist Reg Smythe. His wife Jean unveiled the statue by the Shropshire sculptress Jane Robbins in 2007.
You will probably want to walk across to the sea side as you continue round the headland. On your right you will see information about the discovery in this area of a Saxon burial ground related to the monastery founded here in 640 AD and destroyed by the Vikings around 800 AD. After passing the breakwater on your right you will come to the Heugh itself, the easternmost point of the headland and to the Heugh Battery.
Heugh Battery was set up after the Napoleonic Wars to defend the port of Hartlepool. In 1859 it was enlarged and two other batteries were built at the lighthouse and Fairy Cove. In 1914, Heugh battery and the lighthouse battery engaged three German warships in combat. It was the only combat of its kind in that war. There were several military and civilian deaths and this battle was later used for propaganda to recruit for the war effort. In World War 2, the battery was enlarged again and was in use until the Battle of Britain. The guns were removed in 1956 and the site became overgrown and derelict until taken over by the Heugh Battery Trust in 2000.
Take the lane to the left of the battery and walk across the green open space before continuing along Sea View Terrace and Marine Drive. You leave the road behind and start on the footpath. There are quite frequent ECP (England Coastal Path) signs to guide you towards Crimdon. You will cross over some derelict land and then pass a cemetery on your left which is also Spion Kop Nature Reserve. There is an opening and in summer you may wish to look for Pyramidal Orchid and Bloody Crane’s Bill here. There is also a Jewish cemetery at the northern end and if you would like to see that, go across the reserve down to the road. Turn right and the Jewish cemetery is the next entrance on your right. When you have finished in the cemetery, turn right and right again before the new housing development to regain the coastal path.
You continue north passing Steetley Pier. You walk for a while close to a fence on your right and then after crossing a dip, the path goes alongside some concrete posts on your left where there was once a sand quarry. The views become more attractive as you pass the golf course on your left and walk up into the Hart Warren Dunes Nature Reserve. This an area rich in orchids including Fragrant, Pyramidal and Burnt Tip. As you descend from the highest point on the dunes keep on the coastal path until it starts to turn inland. At the point where the coastal path turns right to cross a bridge over Crimdon Dene, turn left up a track between fields which leads up to the railway. Cross over the footbridge.
From the footbridge, walk on south for a few metres, then turn right into a street (Hartville Road) which leads to the A1086. Cross straight over and walk up the track opposite with houses on your left and a rather shabby valley on your right. You may be surprised to hear a disembodied voice call out “WARNING: You are being recorded on a security camera!” After leaving the houses behind, continue uphill, passing buildings on your left and on your right until you come to a gate. Go through the side gate and go across a field where you may find highland cattle. Go through the next gate and turn left, following the left field boundary. Cross over a bridge into the next field, where you turn right and left following field boundaries on your right. You then come to a farm track on your right where you walk uphill to North Hart Farm. Go through the side gate and turn left into paddocks. In the second paddock turn right and leave by a gate which leads briefly to a path behind the farm, before turning left towards Hart. There are good views here with the sea to your left, an old windmill on a hill ahead and St Mary Magdalene Church and a beautiful stone walled field on your right. Enter the church yard and turn right.
Hart to Trimdon – 15km
After visiting the church, turn right to go out past a car park with an old wall on your left which is all that remains of a 14th century manor house. Pass the primary school on your right, before turning right into Butts Lane, where you soon fork left. You will pass some houses on your left. The road turns to the right and leads up to Thorpe Bulmer Farm. The footpath forks off to the left and there is a pond on your right and the houses here are most attractive. Continue along a grassy path towards a pine wood. As you reach the wood, turn left and right keeping the wood on your right until you reach a stile. Cross over it and descend down steps and go over the bridge across Bellows Burn. Walk up and out of wood and cross over a track to a field. The path continues with the field edge on your right following the line of pylons. When you reach the end of the field, turn left towards the buildings. When you reach the road turn right and you will pass Nesbitt Hall on your right which was built in 1697.
Walk on down, passing a transmitter on your left and then walk down to the bridge to cross the attractive Nesbitt Dene. If it has been reasonably dry and you would like to appreciate the full drama of this dene, look for a path on your right about 30 metres before you cross the bridge. You can get to the bottom of the dene here and if you walk a little way towards the bridge, you will be able to appreciate the fine limestone cliff and a cave. Walk up out of the dene crossing three stiles on the way before reaching a deconsecrated graveyard for the village of Monk Hesleden. The ruins of an ancient Norman church here, which were built on a Saxon foundation, were regrettably demolished by the council in 1968. A white post indicates where it once stood.
Walk to the village on a path between fences and turn left. After passing the vicarage on your left and the farm gate on your right, go up to the footpath which leads you once again between fences across the fields to the Hart to Haswell railway path. You access it by going under the bridge and turning left along a narrow path that leads you gradually up to the former railway. After 700 metres, you will reach Hesleden on your right which has an attractive pond. You cross over a road where to the left there is a business removing ash from a former pit heap to make bricks. After 1.5 kilometres, you come to Castle Eden and you may wish to go off on the path to the left for refreshments at the inn there before resuming your way. You soon pass under the very busy
After passing Headshope Farm on your left and just before the barrier, fork left to cross a field and go under two sets of pylons. Fork right onto a cycle path for a few metres before taking the path on your left. You may like to pause to look at Wellfield Lake on your left which is colourful with flag iris and water lilies in summer. The path becomes Moor Lane as it comes into Wingate. You pass a school on your left and then turn left into the main road through Wingate.
You will pass Holy Trinity Church on your left and The Railway Crossings Pub on your right. After the medical centre, turn right down Johnson’s Street. You will pass allotments on your right and St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School on your left to enter Wingate Welfare Park, which is a delightful community woodland. Walk straight through, passing a pond on your right and an outdoor classroom area with attractive wood sculpture on your left, before reaching the railway path where you turn right.
Walk along the path for 600 metres until you come to the houses of Trimdon Colliery on your left. Turn left here and go to the left and right round the houses to reach a tarmac path. Keep the fence on your left and the houses on your right as you go up the hill. When you come to the road cross over and turn right and immediately left down a lane. Follow the path ahead with a line of mostly beech trees on your right. At the end of the line of trees where there is a disused quarry on your right, take the path diagonally across to the left corner and there take a fenced path on your right with a paddock on your right. You come out by a house with a pair of dragons guarding the entrance! Turn right here and go along a road to another road where you turn left.
Cross the road and you will see the back of a large concrete sign for Trimdon Colliery. You might like to look at the front of it, before you go on the footpath which soon turns left to cross over a
green footbridge. Walk uphill passing paddocks on your left. You enter a wood and go straight through into a lane which leads you out onto a road where you turn right. Go over to the pavement for a few metres, but at the next bend go over to the footpath by a barrier and follow the path round and after 150 metres turn left to reach Trimdon Fishing Lake. Walk round on the east and south side of the lake and then turn left to take the footpath which goes along the right field boundary up to Trimdon. Turn right when you reach the road and you will soon come to St Mary Magdalene Church.
Trimdon to Cassop – 11km
After visiting the church, turn right and cross over to the north side of the road and a few metres up, you will find the footpath sign leading you between houses and out to fields, where you will see your next village of Trimdon Grange on the skyline. It is more or less a straight path across the valley with a slight left and right around a disused well. When you reach Trimdon Grange, walk between houses to the main road where you turn left. At the T junction, you will find St Alban’s Church on your right. Turn left at the junction and cross the road and take the first turn on your right. You will see an inviting sign for the woodland walk. Take that path past some garages on you right and through a small pine wood. The path ahead goes over the shoulder of a hill and down past another small wood on your right to reach a road where you turn left and immediately right to join Kelloe Bank – a disused railway line.
Very soon on your right you will see a sign for Trimdon Grange Quarry Nature Reserve which is well worth visiting especially in spring and summer. This whole area is rich in flowers because of the magnesium limestone which has been and, in places, is still quarried here. As well as in the designated nature reserves, you are, in season, likely to see a good variety of flowers along the edges of the path. Over twenty species of butterflies have also been recorded along this stretch. After 1.5km you will see a bridge on your left. Walk under it and you have reached Garmondsway. You pass some paddocks with sheep, emu and alpacas on your left. Follow the road out to the west and soon you will see a field with earthen banks and enclosures indicating the presence of the former medieval village of Garmondsway. This is in fact one of the best preserved medieval villages in England. King Canute got his first view of Durham on the hill above the village so would certainly have passed through the village.
Continue along the road, passing a road for 1.5 kms to reach the A177. Turn right and walk for 200 metres before turning right into Bradyll Street. Go through the gate on the left if it is open or step over the barrier to follow the footpath and cycle way which, when Bradyll Street turns to the right, continues straight ahead with Coxhoe Beck on your right. Cross over the beck at the green footbridge and go straight ahead onto Kelloe Way. You will soon see a path on your right which leads you into a short section of Raisby Hill Grassland Reserve, an important site for orchids. After about 300 metres, you rejoin Kelloe Way. You will pass another entrance to the nature reserve on your right.
As you walk on, you pass sewage works on your left and kennels on your right. Cross over two roads and after the second you will pass an impressive metal sculpture to let you know you are in Kelloe. More unusual sculpture is on offer when you cross over the next road. A line of magnesium limestone slabs references the history of the mines and includes gold nuggets (coal) and Davy lamps. After passing these sculptures, go right to access a cemetery which includes a monument to those who died in the Trimdon Grange mining disaster in 1822. Just across the road is St Helen’s Church.
Kelloe and St Helen’s Church
Return to the cemetery and walk ahead, passing the monument and interpretation panel on your left and regaining Kelloe Way where you turn right. Just before you reach a road there is a plaque in memory of ten miners who died when the mine here was flooded in 1897. There is also an interpretation panel. Cross over the road to go on a path into the Woodland Trust Reserve at Harvey Wood. This path heads south for 100 metres before you come to a wide track where you turn left and walk uphill for 500 metres till you come to a junction where you turn right. Keep along this track going north east with a fence on your left for 400 metres. When you reach a cinder track, turn left to walk up to Cassop. When you reach the village go straight on to the main road where the post office will be on your left and the community centre is on the opposite side.
Cassop to Durham – 10km
The Post Office at Cassop is your last opportunity to purchase any refreshments until you reach Durham. This last stage begins on the path to the left of the community centre. There is an excellent view here of Cassop Vale and to Durham beyond. If you follow pilgrim traditions, you should kneel down here and give thanks for your first site of the cathedral! Walk down and as you near the bottom of the hill, the road bends round to the right and you take the second of two paths off to the left which leads towards an attractive small lake. There are a number of little paths in the area but if you keep the lake on your right and go close to the hill, you will soon find the stile that leads you over to the path along the former wagon way.
Continue on, passing a place where another footpath crosses and then over to a larger field which you cross straight over. Cross the next stile and a farm track comes in from the left, which ascends the hill up to Old Cassop on your right, but you continue ahead on a wide grassy path between fences. Cross over a minor road and into a long field which runs parallel to the road you have just crossed. Look out for evidence of strip farming here. At the end of this field there is a rather boggy patch but hopefully you can find enough stepping stones to get you safely over. Go over stiles to cross the minor road again and then over a small field to reach the A688 through a
Cross with care and go through the gate to another small field leading to another minor road. Cross the road and go over the stile by a gate into a broad farm track which gradually turns to the north west and there are some good views of Durham Cathedral. The noise of the A1 will now be a prominent feature for the next 3 kilometres. When the track ends at a gate, cross the adjoining stile and ahead you will see the post indicating the path continuing along a path between hedges. It is very obvious that this was a former wagon way for the collieries in this area..
When you cross a field, the course of the railway line is temporarily obscured but then restored with another attractive stretch between ivy clad trees and hedges before crossing a field near White House Farm. Next comes another brief section between trees before you cross over a stile into a larger field. Walk straight ahead on the bank to the left of the cutting. This was the site of Whitwell Colliery. The path is rather unclear but after about 400 metres look out for a gate 80 metres to your left. Cross over the stile by the gate and turn right along the farm track which soon crosses a former railway line into a tarmac road. Continue on this road passing Whitwell Grange on your right. Follow the road downhill and take the next footpath on your left. Here you briefly regain the wagon way with its bridge across the Chapman Beck and this leads through a small wood and out onto a B road.
Cross over here and turn left along the footpath to cross over the A1. After 300 metres walking downhill look out for the footpath on your right. This soon crosses a footbridge into a field. Cross over it to climb the hill ahead and skirt round to the left where the cathedral now looms much larger. Join a farm track coming down from Bent House Farm and continue ahead passing two quarries on your right before reaching a wider track where you turn right and walk uphill. When you reach a barrier, turn left along a road which leads gradually downhill towards Old Durham Farm. It is noticeably quiet after the noise of the A1 and there are fine views of the city with the cathedral, castle and railway viaduct prominent. When you reach O’Donovan Farm, look for the road on your right and go past cottages on your left. The road goes round to the left and you soon turn right to go through to Pellaw Wood. Look for a path which forks left and leads down by some steps to the riverside opposite Durham rowing club. Turn left along the river bank soon crossing over a footbridge. The prominent Maiden Hill is across the river ahead of you.
Turn right across the footbridge over the River Wear. Enter the wood here and turn left along the path, keeping the steep and wooded Maiden Castle on your right. Before the path turns left towards the A177, look for a very steep path up through the wood on your right. When you reach the top of the steepest part cross over the stile into a field and make for the trees ahead at the top of Whinney Hill where there is a fine view of the cathedral. Turn right and in the corner of the field you will find a stile which leads along a path with a hedge on your left and the steep wooded hill on your right. You soon start descending and before the path leads you out into the town, turn right down to university buildings. At the bottom of the hill turn left with Brook Halls on your left and a high wall on your right. When you reach a road cross over to Court Lane, which is the road to the left of the trees. You will soon pass the court buildings. The cathedral is very prominent ahead. Go left into Elvet Crescent and when you reach the main road cross at the lights and then go over Kingsgate Bridge and up the steps to reach the cathedral.
Further info can be found on: