Adventure and nature can be found right on our doorstep
For many people the mellow, almost lullaby voice of Sir David Attenborough filled our childhoods with adventure, excitement and wanderlust as he ventured around the world creating documentaries such as Life and Planet Earth. He encouraged us to get outdoors and seek out wildlife on our doorstep. Yet as we grow older our childish enthusiasm seems to filter out and allow technology to replace that wanderlust space we once had.
So why do we do this? Why do we spend the majority of our lives sat in a room watching the television or flicking our thumbs on games? It is because we’re under the impression that nature and adventure is inconveniently too far away for us to bother with. That is absolutely not the case!
Adventure and nature can be found right on our doorstep…
What is the first thing that springs to mind when you think of the North East? Is it the hustle and bustle of Newcastle city centre? Perhaps it’s the Closing Down Sale signs plastered along Bishop Auckland’s high street?
We don’t look at our towns and see the beautiful greenspaces we actually have: Bishop Auckland Rugby Club has a beautiful river walk alongside the River Wear with convenient benches and picnic areas, so even if we don’t fancy a walk, we can still enjoy the scenery. There’s car parking available both at the beginning of the walk where you turn into the Rugby Club road and further down closer to the pitches and picnic areas.
Take for granted
One thing we seem to take for granted and don’t embrace is the endless landscape of agricultural fields which surrounds our homes and the disused railways of our mining past.
I’m not saying jump over the closest fence with the dog for a walk; farmers aren’t too keen on that, but there are many public footpaths which give us a legal right of way through private land; and quite often we miss hidden pathways which take us to new exciting places.
Coundon Railway Station is situated along the Auckland Way path and allows visitors to park their cars before walking the path. Auckland Way is a disused railway line which was originally built in sections between 1841 and 1885 as a line used by passengers to get between Bishop Auckland and Cornforth.
It was then closed in 1939 and is now used as a walking and cycling route between Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor.
As you walk along the disused railway line you can easily notice the remnants of its history: the huge Bishop’s Bridge which was built for the bishop because he found the railway ugly looking. He built it twice the width of a normal bridge so he could plant trees along the sides and hide the sight of the railway.
Further along the line you can find the old station platform located in Byer’s Green, surrounded by the ancient woods that give the village its name.
If we start at the Coundon Railway Station car park and turn right towards Spennymoor, just before we get to the golf course on the left-hand side there is a noticeable well-used track heading up the field and parallel to the golf course, which is separated by a large stone wall.
Make sure Fido is back on his leash before entering!
Here, if you’ve got your walking boots on, it can either take you directly to Bishop Auckland or if you’re feeling adventurous it can lead you through the less well-used walks through Auckland Park (but we’ll come to this another time).
A mere two-minute walk from the car park and for your dogs, its heaven… A big open field they can run wild in while you can keep along the muddy footpath. There are plenty of trees along the footpath with fallen branches, so you’ll always have a backup for Fido he decides to chew up his stick or mistake it for a urinal (or maybe that’s just mine?).
The first half of the path is a small incline up the hill where the summit can be seen by a dividing hedge at the top of the field, from there it’s all downhill with amazing views looking over the area.
A little way down the hill you will come across a road which leads to the entrance of the golf course from Durham Road. Cross the road and carry on and you’ll notice the huge houses on your left-hand side and their back gardens.
Carrying on down the field you come to another stile into another field usually occupied by horses, so make sure Fido is back on his leash before entering!
Don’t worry though, you’re only in the field for a mere minute before jumping over another stile, walking down some steps and coming out onto Durham Road, opposite the turn for Durham Chare or The Willows housing estates.
So for those of you who walk to Bishop Auckland for work or school from Coundon or Leeholme areas, I’d recommend this route! That is of course depending on the weather and how clean you are at walking. I on the other hand always seem to smother my shoes and legs in mud, so I prefer to use this route for dog walking.
As I carry on writing blogs about the walks in our local area and various other nature and outdoor topics, I’ll be venturing further afield and finding new, exciting walks which are close to us! So stay tuned for more adventure ideas!