Sunday, 1 February 2015

New cycle path at Cockfield

The railways of County Durham

One of the best ways to get into cycling around County Durham is to do it on the miles and miles of reclaimed railway tracks all around the county.

You can start in Bishop Auckland and head east out towards Spennymoor or north out towards Willington and onto Broompark. From there you can then Head northwest on to Lanchester, Consett and beyond. That is a lot of distance to cover through beautiful scenic countryside on paths that, whilst not dedicated to cyclists (remember they are open to walkers, dogs and horse riders), are a perfect surface for a leisurely ride out.

Only north?

In the paragraph above, I mention a number of routes. Based in Bishop Auckland, when I head out along these railways, it’s generally in a northerly direction. But the old railways extend much further than that, south towards West Auckland, (confusing name, I know!), Newton Aycliffe and eventually Darlington. A new section recently opened up between Shildon and Newton Aycliffe, called Locomotion Way.

Not much going on south of Bishop Auckland, but in the north...take your pick!

Future Improvements?

In the spirit of Locomotion Way, a new project has begun at Burnt Houses, near Cockfield, County Durham. Work has begun on turning a disused section of railway into a path suitable for walkers, horse riders and cyclists. It is however, only 500m long. Despite the small length of track being converted, it will in fact link existing pathways, creating a longer route. It seems like a big effort for such a small distance, but the idea behind this work is much bigger.
Image taken from Teesdale Mercury
According to the Teesdale Mercury, the work is costing £30,000, with £8,000 being funded by Teesdale Action Partnership: “Craig Morgan, from the partnership, said the overall aim is to create the "South West Durham Heritage Corridor.”

The idea is that this work, when completed, will show other funding bodies how impressive the project is and then extend the renovations, linking Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle. Currently if you were to cycle to Barnard Castle from Bishop Auckland, you will end up on very fast, main roads. A safer alternative would definitely encourage more people to visit Barnard Castle, and in return, Bishop Auckland.

A waste of money?

The article plays on the idea that this is a waste of money, with some residents, presumably those who don’t like cyclists, voicing concerns. I can only see this having a positive effect. As a regular cyclist and dog walker on these railway lines, I can certainly say how popular they are. I don’t think I've ever ridden or walked one without seeing at least one other person.

I’d like to congratulate Teesdale Action Partnership on going ahead with this project and I hope that they receive the funding they require.


  1. Is this route just north of Cockfield towards Butterknowle, I know there is a an old station near, the lone which went thru Gaunless Valley, would be good, especially as viaudct still exists, but think its unsafe.

    1. To be honest, I do not know where it is exactly. Since I read the article, I have not been up there to see. Hopefully I can get a ride out next week and see exactly what is going on.

  2. start in Bishop Auckland and head west out towards Spennymoor

    Or even east ;)


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