West Bowburn Way

(First published in Bowburn Interchange no. 55, June 2010)

The Parish Council has commissioned work to repair and improve footpaths, stiles and signage along the West Bowburn Way.

This walk starts (or finishes) behind the Wellfields Business Centre (soon to house Bowburn’s new dentist’s), on Durham Road West, and ends (or starts) along the track opposite Bowburn Community Centre. An excellent leaflet about it can be picked up from the Community Centre.

From Durham Road West, follow the old Corn-forth road along the field edge towards Peat Edge Farm, crossing the even more ancient Roman road soon after you set off.

After the first stile, head straight on, to another stile, then cut across a corn field towards Bowburn sewage works.

Over another stile and along an overgrown track, beside the sewage works on your right, then turn right and head for the steps over the disused Leamside Railway. (This was the original East Coast Main Line, before a new line opened through Durham City in 1872.) Cowslips, less spectacular this year than usual, are still numerous. Dingy Skipper butterflies (a Priority Species for conservation) live near the embankment.

Once over the embankment, follow the path beside the beck crossing the track that leads up to Tursdale House farm.

Through some woodland and then, after a staggered crossing (left, then right) of the track up from the Hett Mill level crossing, then keep beside Tursdale Beck into Tursdale Wood. This is resplendent in bluebells at this time of year.

When the path reaches a fork, bear right, up the hill. (The lower path is not a right of way.) The bank here is quite steep – so you may prefer to do this walk in the other direction! But there’s a large flat stone near the top, to sit on and “admire the view”.

At the top, head left along the side of the field to a derelict stone building (the “hemmel” – an old northern word for cow shed). Then cross the stile (which may have been replaced by then) and the field to the High Croxdale farm buildings.

Turn right and follow the ancient carriage road back east towards Bowburn.

Where this reaches the trees is probably the worst part of the walk. It is really boggy.

The walk now crosses the ancient Strawberry Lane, from Shincliffe to Tursdale. The bridleway turns south here but walkers can keep straight on, over the restored pit head.

Once over the top, cross the Leamside line again and head straight on to Bowburn Community Centre.

Time taken? The Parish Council leaflet says three hours. But this must allow for lots of stops to “admire the view”! Some might say about two hours.