A fantastic walk from Stanhope to the top of Collier Law via Crawley Edge and Black Burn before returning via Fatherley Hill and Shittlehope Edge.
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A murky start had led to another overcast day in Stanhope. I wasn't sure if I'd get the opportunity to fit in another walk but then at about 3pm in the afternoon a small patch of blue sky appeared overhead. I quickly got my kit together, laced up my boots and set off straight from our holiday cottage on this pre-planned route up on to Collier Law.
Just down the road from our cottage I took an enclosed path leading up to Ashes Quarry. Continuing straight on the path crossed above two sections of the old quarry. After crossing a bridge on the far side the path turned left. I then took a path slanting up to the right before doubling back again to the right to reach the rim of Crawley Edge. Crawley Edge is a super viewpoint for this part of Weardale. Sadly the patch of sunshine that tempted me out was a bit of a red herring and the first view I had was of approaching showers.
"The path soon crossed to the other side of the wall and I kept on it all the way to the little mound of Fatherley Hill. A brief detour to the prominent Fatherley Hill Currick provided more super views."
Fortunately the showers quickly passed and as I walked south-east along Crawley Edge a few patches of light materialised across the valley. There was also a nice contrast between the purpling heather above the modest rim and the green quarry below. At grid reference NZ000396 I turned left trying to find a track marked on the map. I found it very faintly in the heather and this led to a much firmer track at NZ003399. From here I had a fine view of my route all the way up to the top of Collier Law.
Turning left on the track I followed it downhill passing a couple of buildings before crossing Crawley Burn. The track then climbed up alongside Black Burn. Alternating steeper and more gradual sections the track led unerringly all the way to just below the summit of Collier Law. As the track swung left towards some masts I took a track on the right towards the summit. Crossing over a fence I soon arrived at the trig point marking the highest point.
The skies had remained largely cloudy but at this point some quite spectacular patches of light began appearing further up Weardale. In the other direction the views extended from the Cleveland Hills to the south-east to Tyneside to the north-east. The higher fells on the Teesdale / Weardale watershed were largely obscured by cloud.
From the trig point I followed the fence a short way to a currick at a fence junction and then made my way to the public footpath running for a time along the rim of the moor. Turning left on this I enjoyed a super walk south across the moor. The path soon crossed to the other side of the wall and I kept on it all the way to the little mound of Fatherley Hill. A brief detour to the prominent Fatherley Hill Currick provided more super views.
From Fatherley Hill I crossed the nearby fence and made a beeline due west to reach a track. Turning left on this I came to a fork. The clearer option maintained a level course but I took the right hand option. This proved to be faint to non-existent but by keeping the same direction I soon came to a wall where the way once again became much clearer. The following descent along the track to Shittlehope Edge and Shittlehope Farm was very fine indeed with good views of Weardale ahead of me and back up to Collier Law to my right.
The next section from Shittlehope Farm was a bit scrappy. The initial enclosed path was very overgrown and then as it became a sunken way in a line of trees next to impossible to follow. Instead I took a diagonal bearing down a steep grassy bank to reach a footbridge over Shittlehope Burn. On the other side of the bridge I crossed a sheep pasture to arrive on a residential street. Turning left I soon came to the main road running through Stanhope. Turning right it was then a nice walk back to the start.
This would have been a five-star walk but for the scrappy ending. The ascent was relatively fast and straightforward and the summit views much better than I remember. Although the skies had largely stayed overcast some small patches of sunshine had occasionally illuminated the valley quite beautifully. All in all this was a great route.