C2C - Route 7
Route Section: Alston > Consett
From Start: 149km (93m) | From Finish: 74km (46m)
Stanhope 7km (4.5m)
Consett 27km (17m)
- Once you have climbed that lung busting section out of Allenheads it is a fast and exhilarating run down to Rookhope.
Out of Rookhope
On road - go out of Rookhope on Front St past the old working man's club and take the left fork at Stotfield Burn.
This wonderfully scenic and quiet lane takes you down to the A689 and so into the handsome market town of Stanhope, on the banks of the Wear.
Off road - instead of turning right just past the pub go left up a rough road. You will see signs and soon you will be on a magnificent stretch of moorland which takes you straight across to Parkhead Station, at Mile Marker 100, avoiding Stanhope and that dreaded climb up Crawleyside.
This is suitable only for mountain bikes, though you could push your hybrid (or carry your road bike). After the Glorious Twelfth (Aug 12) it is occasionally closed for grouse shooting.
The stretch out of Allenheads is almost the last tortuous ascent - and it drags on until you reach the summit at Currick. Then there is a nice stretch of gentle downhil al the way to Rookhope.
You soon pass the boundary into County Durham, land of the Prince Bishops - palatinate rulers with absolute authority, equal to a sovereign within the principality. They were granted such power because of the huge strategic importance of the area in the ongoing battle with the Scots.
Consequently teams of chimneysweeps were employed to scrape the valuable lead and silver deposits from the chimney once a week. It was a dangerous and filthy job, done by children.On your approach you will pass the Lintzgarth Arch, an incongruous and enormous vestige of a bygone era, lying abandoned on the valley floor. The arch carried a 3km horizontal chimney across the valley which replaced the more conventional vertical type when it was realised that a lot of lead literally went up with the smoke.
Rookhope is another shrunken mining village. It is also charming, keeping the secret of its hiding place well guarded from sight, high above the Weardale Valley.
It is hard to imagine that this small group of dwellings was a hive of activity only a few years ago. In its heyday it supported a surgery, a resident district nurse, vicar, policeman, teashops, several crowded pubs and a busy school. The mining of lead, iron and fluorspar, smelting and the rail- ways totally dominated people's lives.
The village has been one of the most popular watering holes along the route before the final leg of the journey down to the NE coast. Now there is only a pub (it is occasionally open), village shop, post office and working men's club. There is a bunkhouse next to the pub and a camping field also. The pub has occasionally been in the hands of those keen to encourage cyclists, but this has varied somewhat over the past 20 years. Most folk tend to head to Stanhope now.