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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Footpath No.10 Westgate (Slit Wood)

slit wood
Yesterday, me and superpooch walked the route of next Saturday’s Durham County Council guided walk which is a 9 mile route from Westgate – over the tops and to Rookhope and back along the Weardale Way. And part of this route goes through the very lovely and quite interesting Slit Wood.
Now Slit Wood has the remains of at least two lead mines – one of which has had a bunch of money spent on restoration and preservation quite recently and so, footpath 10 is quite important for this alone, apart from the fact that it’s very popular for Weardalers and their children and doggies and it’s quite well know further afield.
fp 10 succumbs to middlehope burn
And I found that some footpath 10 is either falling into the beck or is being covered by a landslip.
So I took these pictures of some of the industrial archaeology in the wood and some of the difficulties that the path is now experiencing.
I told the rights of way peeps at County Hall, obviously and they’ve replied saying that they’re monitoring the path and are planning some works. Which is good.
Hopefully, key bits of FP10 will still be there on Saturday.
A lump of FP10 about to dive into Middlehope Burn
Evidence of the testing of rock drills in the smithy doorway at Slit Mine
Remains of the smithy
This culvert defies gravity. The dog defies all attempts to get him to walk to heel
Maybe something to do with the hydraulic engine?
Footings for Armstrong hydraulic engine
Wheel pit and dog uninterested in wheel pits
Main shaft – capped with concrete. Shaft has shuttered in at 95 feet depth. Don’t jump up and down here…
Slit Vein Hush
Stile incorporates tramway rails
Gloopy landslip
Wet level Middlehope mine
Dam and tramways Middlehope Mine
Plants in the stream emanating from the Middlehope mine level

More about this route after Saturday’s walk! (Starts at 10:00 at the layby with the phone box on the A689 Crook to Alston road at Westgate – bring butties and a camera)


Dawn said...

Amazing Mike, I always admire the breadth of your knowledge with these things. It is so fascinating. Hopefully the powers that be will get that path fixed.

Mike Knipe said...

Dawn - Examines shoe laces and simpers a bit... yes, well, koff...

Nigel Towler said...

Hi, I've just come across your blog and thought I'd add a comment on my favorite and local walk that is slit woods.
Now aged just 55yrs young I've been walking or playing along this footpath since i was a babe in arms and now retired early from the armed forces due to a variety of complex issues i often find peace along this route and spend many hours here.
I always start at Westgate from where the old slaughter house and butchers used to be entering past the old mill.
ts with some concern i have noticed that some incomers who have bought this property are quietly land grabbing what is a public footpath and making the start of this beautiful walk a rather unpleasant experience with their unofficial and aggressive signs plastered everywhere. Planting none none natural plants along the river side and taking over what i believe is public land for their own use.
I'm concerned if this is allowed to continue then this footpath will be lost.
i intend to take the issue up with my local authority and also rather than keeping this area and it walk along with its history quiet its my aim to raise its profile and see more walkers and families using this superb area.

Armed forces veteran

Mike Knipe said...

Nigel - I'm really happy to report that the footpath that was once falling into the beck is now in the process of being seriously restored. Your concern for access is understandable, and seems to be shared by Westgate locals as well as off-cumd' uns like me (apols for Yorkshire dialect here by the way!)And my view is that it's for this reason (and specially in view of the huge amount of cash spent in restoring the path and, previously on the archaeological restoration of Slitt Mine plus the creation of permissive paths) that access to the area is safe and potentially well-defended. I expect that quite a lot of people will be using the paths following restoration and will be keeping a keen eye on access, as they have done in the past. Keep going up there and enjoying it and try not to let any off-putting signage irritate you. I've not personally seen any aggressive notices although I have been up there within the last few weeks (maybe they're new?) I do have local contacts, though, and I would get to know if problems were starting to happen - and I'll check with my local pals