Originally this walk was to take place in Gilsland but we decided that was away too far to drive on a short Winter’s day. We changed it to Stanley. Anyway it was the 21st birthday of one of our group who lives in Stanley and she promised us tea and cake afterwards!
We started at their house and almost straight out of their back door we were onto old wagon ways among Autumn leaves in bright sunshine. These paths around Stanley wind through a landscape wrenched free from one hundred years of coal mining and re a joy; I really like these re-used wagon ways with their burgeoning woodland either side of the paths. Hazel, birch, dog rose and guelder rose jostle for elbow room and they provide a lovely tapestry to walk amongst. It’s not Striding Edge but good walking nonetheless.
There’s a nice big pond up here too where we were going to stop for lunch but it was all too squelchy and damp with no benches to give us a dry seat. We made do with the ground instead on the nearby path even though we nearly got trampled by a couple of horses!
The walk continued on to Tanfield Village after lunch with its panoramic views over the rolling hills that were once pit heaps – now green fields without a trace of heavy industry.
The final stretch of the walk took us past soaring wind turbines on Windmill Hill that overlook this corner of County Durham before we descended back to Stanley and birthday cake!