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Witton Gilbert

Differing from the industrial heritage featured in many H100 walks, this walk focuses on County Durham’s world-renowned Christian heritage; traced back to the Northern Saints of the seventh and eighth centuries. 
This calming walk through a tapestry of woodland and arable land begins in the haven of Witton Gilbert Dene, a local nature reserve, with an abundance of wildlife, including forty recorded species of birds as well as mammals, insects, and mature deciduous woodlands. Carparking can be found nearby on Coach Lane and by St Michael and All Angels Church. 
The first section of the walk follows the Dene Burn through the mature woodlands, until it meets with the River Browney, a path that would have been trodden in the seventh and eighth centuries by the Northern Saints on the pilgrimage route: Way of Light. 
Next, we head up to the top of the Browney Valley, on a steady incline through a mosaic of crop fields, continue to follow the top of the field to the right, with fantastic panoramic views of the entire valley; providing opportunities to spot a bird of prey soaring above the vast open countryside. The route then leads us to a suburban area known as White smocks; believed to be named after a long forgotten coaching inn which was consequentially named from the white coats worn by the waggoners on the Great Road that frequented the inn. The route then turns back into the Browney Valley heading back down the farm track, passing Holly House and Hall Farm and skirting past Beaurepaire; the 13th century medieval estate, to re-join the route at the river Browney where we first turned off.
At this point we cross the River Browney and join the Lanchester Valley railway Path for a short while, then crossing back over the river once more to start a steady incline back up to the finish point, on a path past the sewage works, where a Neolithic axe was once discovered. One deep breath and an increase in pace sees you past the works with ease, before reaching the remains of the 12th-century leper hospital known as St Mary Magdalene, followed by the wonderful example of 12th Century churches: St Michaels and All Angels at the top of the bank. 

Distance:  10.2 km (6.34 miles)

Difficulty Rating: ★★★

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Walk Details

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