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Eggleston to Mickleton & Romaldkirk

The middle section of Teesdale between Eggleston and Mickleton is a delight to explore on foot. There's a network of well maintained footpaths to use crossing rich farmland and offering tantalising glimpses of the river flowing through ancient woodlands.

Distance: 7 miles

Time: 5 hours

Grade: easy

Conditions: well signed field paths and bridleways

Refreshments: Eggleston, Mickleton, Romaldkirk, Eggleston Hall Gardens

OS Explorer Map OL31

Originally published: 12 July 2013

This 7 mile walk starts from the green near the  Three Tuns Inn in Eggleston (GR 999238). It then crosses the valley to Mickleton before following the railway path to Romaldkirk. The return is over pastures high above the river to Eggleston Bridge.

I've mapped two routes out of the village. The first heads some 200 yards downhill from the Three Tuns to a footpath sign, right,  just above the church. This quickly heads out into the former medieval Middle Field and on to a remarkable staircase of terraces, called side riggs, each up to half a mile long, created to allow for easier ploughing on the steep valley slope. They descend as far as the valley road and are clearly visible from the other side of the dale.

The right of way takes a course down the middle of one of these to a new wooden 'squeeze-through' stile where a later field hedge has been planted. From the stile bear right along a higher terrace, continuing below a wall for about 200 yards before climbing via a couple of stiles to join the second route by a clump of Scots pines.

The easier alternative leaves the inn on the left and climbs a few yards to the B 6278, before turning left past the Jubilee Reading Room of 1887. In 150 yards go left on Balmer Lane and, where it bears right to South Terrace,  go left on a field path with magnificent views up the valley (seats provided). The path continues along the line of Scots pines to a group of cottages and Newton House.

From here we follow the access track down to a crossroads and continue on a rough lane down to fords (with footbridges) over Blackton Beck and Eggleston Burn. This was once the route used by teams of up to 20 packhorses carrying lead ore from the local mines to the smelt mill higher up Blackton Beck. When in the 1860s the route was deemed too onerous and time consuming by the London Lead Company, an impressive viaduct, known as Blackton Bridge,  was built for the horses higher up Eggleston Burn. It can be seen through the trees if you walk up the beckside from the second footbridge.

The old route now climbs to a tarred lane where go left. On the corner is the Saddle House, used to store the tack of the Galloway pack horses. We now follow the lane past the tiny Egglesburn Baptist Chapel of 1872 with its bold 'British Workmen' carved over the entrance.

At the B 6282 cross straight over on the track to Toby Hill Farm. Bear right before the farm and go right again on an earth track in another 200 yards. Glorious views now open up of upper Teesdale and the river which appears almost secretly through the trees below.

The right of way descends to the river bank where turn left across a couple of fields to Beckstones Wath Bridge, arching high above the river. On the other bank it's an easy stroll across fields to Yarker Lane on the edge of Mickleton. Turn left and then right along Low Side. Once past the Wesleyan chapel of 1890 go left at a junction up to the village street. If you are seeking refreshments then the Crown, open every day at 10 am, is some 200 yards to the right. The Blacksmiths Arms is around the corner on the left.

Our walk continues along the lane opposite the latter to the car park on the site of Mickleton station. The line was opened in 1868 and took over the role of the packhorses in transporting lead from the dale. When the mines closed before World War I it continued carrying mainly roadstone and agricultural produce until its closure by Beeching in 1964.

Now the Tees Railway Path it is a delight to walk, being mud free, well maintained and liberally provided with seats by the County Council for the enjoyment of the views over the valley to the whitewashed farms of the Raby estate and the moorland of Eggleston Common beyond.

In about 2 miles we reach the site of Romaldkirk station. Little remains although the signal, from Gainford station, is of the type found only on the North East Railway, the arm moving in a slot and dropping down for 'go'.

Turn left into the village, one of the most attractive in Teesdale with three greens surrounded by handsome stone houses, and two pubs, the Kirk and the Rose and Crown.

Look out too for the stocks on the middle green and, if you have time, visit the imposing church which has a Saxon cross, a Norman nave and a stone effigy of Sir Henry Fitzhugh who died in 1304 in the Scottish wars of Edward I.

The walk continues beyond the church and along the side of Low Green. Just past Beckwath, a large late Georgian house of 1828 turn left down Primrose Lane. It soon crosses Beer Beck by a flat stone slab bridge and continues as a well marked field path up on to the cliffs overlooking the Tees which can be heard tumbling far below. There's a bird's eye view from here of Eggleston Hall in its thickly wooded parkland. It was built by Ignatius Bonomi in 1820.

The path descends to Eggleston Bridge with its narrow 11ft wide deck and sharp cutwaters where you can wait for the traffic to pass. It was probably built in the 15th century but has been repaired several times since.

The wall now follow the boundary of Eggleston Hall uphill to the B 6282 where turn left and then first right back to the starting point.



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