I work near Witton Gilbert and so the drive to get to this walk was rather like going to work on a Sunday. Which can never be a good thing.
Thankfully this walk was a good thing.
The early segment of the walk took us through woodland which was rapidly losing its Autumn colour. It was a dry day and the leaves were crunchy underfoot as we made our way along footpaths and farm tracks, ending up near the remains of Beaurepaire, once the summer home of the Bishops of Durham. All that is remaining are a few piles of stones that echo, very faintly, the layout of the handsome old holiday chalet. It is indeed in need of a good repair job. Nonetheless, it is a romantic setting and ideal for a lunch stop.
Heading out into surrounding countryside we were lucky to have bright clear sunshine to accompany us after lunch and therefore far reaching views out over the Durham countryside as we walked down a farm track alongside Arbour House farm. From there we picked up the path along Toll House road for about half a mile and then turned onto the footpath just after the bridge over the river Browney. This fine flat surface runs parallel to the river for quite a distance and gave us distant view of our lunch stop across the valley.
From there we followed well-trodden paths across farmland pasture before climbing back up through woodland tracks to the outskirts of Witton Gilbert at the site of St Michael and All Angels church.