Leisurely walk around Staindrop in County Durham

PUBLISHED: 01:15 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:44 09 October 2012

Sometimes there's a big difference between the sepia image of a place and today's reality - but not in Staindrop

Looking at old photos of a village can be a sobering experience. Sometimes the gap between the sepia image and modern-day reality is an unbridgeable gulf. However, I can happily report that the village of Staindrop is not one of those places.

If you were to stand in the centre of the village, look along the main street and mentally turn the parked cars into ponies and traps, you could almost be looking at a scene from an old Edwardian postcard.

Not that I want to give the impression that Staindrop is backward-looking. A thriving line of shops and the odd satellite dish show that the village has fully embraced the 21st century. But despite these nods at modernity, Staindrop still has charm to spare and is the ideal spot to start and end this months walk.

Begin the walk at the east end of the village at St. Marys Church. The building is medieval, though it was built on the site of an earlier, Saxon church. Inside the current building are effigies of the Neville family, erstwhile dynastic owners of nearby Raby Castle.

If the church deals with the spiritual side of life in the village, the Black Swan pub opposite is handy for those with more corporeal needs. From the church, cross over the road and follow the footpath that cuts along the side of the pub - unless of course the temptation of liquid refreshment cuts your walk short.

Carry on along the path past a school, following the distinctive yellow footpath arrow markers. At the end of the path cross over a stile and bear left, continuing along the edge of several long, narrow fields to a cluster of farm buildings and allotments. Follow the path through these buildings, threading your way through a narrow gap between two fences. Continue to follow the

path to a wooden footbridge over Sudburn Beck.

Cross over the bridge and walk diagonally over a field, aiming for the left corner of Alwent Farm. From the farm, take the track south, following the edge of a number of fields until you reach a road, the B6274, and a nearby junction with a lane leading to Little Newsham and South Cleatlam.

Walk west along the lane past Westholme Hall and then through a small wood until you reach Little Newsham. The village, as the name suggests, is small but it does boast a splendid Methodist chapel that is still used regularly.

Once past the chapel, take the footpath on the opposite side of the road, leading to West Farm. Go past the farm and drop down to Westholme Beck. Cross over the beck via a wooden footbridge. The path now crosses the route of a former rail track, one of many that used to criss-cross the region in the age of steam.

Continue north following the footpath along the edge of farm fields to the village of Cleatlam. At a small stone cross, turn left into the village and follow the road west. Once you are past Cleatlam High Farm, turn right through a gate and follow the direction of the public footpath. The path gently meanders north-west across farm fields, eventually reaching the A688 road, which leads to Staindrop.

Cross over the road and walk due north along the track directly opposite. Continue along the track to a small clump of trees and then drop briefly downhill to a footbridge over Sudburn Beck. From the beck, walk uphill to a snicket gate (dont stray through the

gate to the left of the path into the grounds of Snotterton Hall). Cut through the gate and follow the path until you reach the junction of a bridleway and a farm track.

Follow the farm track downhill until it curves sharply right. The walk can be shortened at this point by following the farm track back to Staindrop. Otherwise, at this curve, turn left and follow the marked footpath that skirts a hedgerow, to a farm gate at the edge of a field. Go through the gate and follow the well-defined path across the centre of the field until you reach another farm gate. Go through the gate and head uphill toward Scaife House Farm.

Make your way through the farm, following the footpath to the B2679 road. Briefly follow the road until you reach a junction on the opposite side of the road with a short lane leading to West Lodge House.

Cross the road at this point and walk up the lane to West Lodge. Follow the footpath east in front of the wall that marks the boundary of Ladyclose Wood. After approximately one kilometre the path veers away from the wall. Although there is not much evidence of it now, you are crossing the course of an old Roman road. The only indication of its existence now are a few lines on a map.

Follow the path as it heads away from Ladyclose wood, across a field to a narrow close. Continue along the close until you emerge onto North Green in Staindrop village.

Start Point: St. Marys Church, Staindrop

Grid Reference: NZ 130 205

Ordnance Survey Map: OS Landranger 92

Length: 7.8 miles (12.6 km)

Time: 3.5 hrs

Difficulty: Moderate (some slopes and rough paths)

Nearest Pub: The Black Swan

Nearest town: Staindrop

Other Notes: To find out more about the history of Staindrop visit: www.aboutbritain.com/towns/staindrop.asp

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