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Hamsterley - Witton-le-Wear - Morley - Hamsterley Walk

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Hamsterley - Witton-le-Wear - Toft Hill - Morley - Hamsterley

From Hamsterley to the footbridge over the River Wear, the terrain is undulating through fields, woods and along farm tracks. East of the river the route almost immediately intersects the Weardale Railway line. Although there is little to show for it now, a station complete with stationmaster's house, waiting-room, platforms and signal box was built here in 1861, originally to serve as a private station for the nearby Harperley Hall and Estates. During WW2 the station was used to transport low-risk Italian and German POWs to the nearby Harperly POW Camp. (The camp, which still exists to this day, is now a museum). The station and signal box officially closed in the 1950s. The railway built in 1847 was originally a branch line running from Bishop Auckland and terminating at Eastgate. This was a working commercial line as recently as 1992, serving the now closed Eastgate Cement Works. The line is now privately owned by British American Railway Services, who plan to reopen the whole of the original section by the end of 2009 for both freight and passenger services. 

From the river the walk passes both Old Harperley Hall and New Harperley Hall (new, although built in 1785!). The latter is now one of the leading forensic police colleges in the country. The walk continues to Witton-le-Wear, passing through pleasant countryside. 

Just past Witton the route recrosses the Wear and enters the grounds of the well-preserved, medieval Witton Castle, currently owned by the Earl of Durham, Lord Lambton. The walk passes the castle and carries on past the exclusive, all-year-round, static caravan park. 

A long pull up to Toft Hill follows, after which is a mainly downhill section through fields and along roads to the hamlet of Morley. Just past Morley the route turns north, passing mainly through fields on the final lap back to Hamsterley.  

Try the Hamsterley - Witton-le-Wear - Morley - Hamsterley walk out on the FREE WalkExplorer app for iPhone. This walk will be on the Android app soon.

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