Tunstall Reservoir

Wolsingham North Moor & Tunstall Reservoir

Walk Summary

A hugely enjoyable ramble above the valley of Waskerley Beck visiting the top of Wolsingham North Moor and the lovely Tunstall Reservoir before returning via Backstone Bank and Baal Hill.

Distance: 9.5 miles
Total ascent: 1250ft
Walk Rating: ****
Parking: Demesne Mill Car Park, Wolsingham
Route: Download Route [GPX]

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Walk Report

This walk started from the Demesne Mill car park in Wolsingham which can be found just before the B6296 crosses over Waskerley Beck. Before the route proper started I first took the footpath heading upstream alongside Waskerley Beck to visit The Rills, a series of very small but attractive waterfalls.

Returning back along the access road to the car park I then crossed over Waskrow Bridge and soon left the road by taking a footpath at Corner Cottage. This passed around the back of the houses on to a couple of fields and then out on to a minor road. Turning right I then soon turned left on to another footpath which climbed steadily up a pasture to the woods below Baal Hill House. Passing through the edge of the wood I then took an enclosed track on the right. This led on to another minor road, Thistlewood Lane.

"After my break I walked south along the road next to the reservoir to reach the reservoir dam. The views of the reservoir from the dam were quite lovely and were enhanced by the cloud reflected on the waters below."

Turning left on Thistlewood Lane I climbed uphill passing a little waterfall on Trod Beck. Continuing on past Thistlewood Farm the road changed to a vehicle track. After passing some shallow quarries on my left the path passed through a gate and on to a lovely tract of heather moorland. The views looking back to Weardale and across the Waskerley valley towards Collier Law were excellent. Soon I arrived at the small cairn and trig point marking the top of Wolsingham North Moor. It is worth noting the trig point is listed as Sand Edge Common on the Ordnance Survey database.

From the trig point I continued north on the path, the heathery section all too soon coming to an end. Continuing on with more nice views I eventually came to a junction of routes just below a disused and barely discernible railway line. Turning left on a good track I descended to reach the head of Tunstall Reservoir. Although not marked on the map a thin path left the road end to follow the reservoir shore round to just above the point where Tunstall Burn flows into the reservoir. After a very short section on the road I then arrived at the parking and picnic spot. Here I decided to take a well earned break, have some lunch and enjoy the views of the reservoir.

After my break I walked south along the road next to the reservoir to reach the reservoir dam. The views of the reservoir from the dam were quite lovely and were enhanced by the cloud reflected on the waters below. Here I had two choices, the easiest routine would have been to continue south along the road and then take some beckside footpaths leading almost all the way back to the car park. Instead I decided to cross the dam and take a path winding up through the woods to reach the farm at Backstone Bank. From there I took a super little path heading south above a steep bank with a fine view back to the reservoir dam.

After passing along the top edge of some woods the path continued on contouring at about 225m above the valley floor. As I continued south the path took on more park like surroundings with Weardale increasingly coming into view ahead. Upon reaching Baal Hill Farm I dropped down through the fields to reach the minor road. Turning left on this I then took a left and then right hand turn on to Lydgate Lane which I then followed to reach the main road running through Wolsingham. Before returning to the car I went on a short exploration of the village including a visit to Wolsingham Bridge (which featured an Ordnance Survey flush bracket) and the lovely Church of St Mary and St Stephen.

This was one of a number of walks that I've had on my to-do list in the Weardale area of the North Pennines for some time. Despite coming in at just under ten miles the going was steady throughout. With good views from a relatively minor top and a visit to the beautiful Tunstall Reservoir it is certainly a walk that I'd recommend.

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