Hudeshope Circular

Hudeshope beck is a stream running alongside Pikestone Brow down to Middleton-in-Teesdale, in a valley which has a little loop road running in a circular route to/from Middleton-in-Teesdale. When I said to Dean that I wanted to do some hills in the Pennines, he took me seriously!


I had finished all my academic essays and had about 6 hours free to take an impromptu VC167 club run: I set off from Durham at 8am down to Sedgefield and on to Darlington to meet up with Dean at a coffee shop in town. The slight northeast wind assisted my journey and I was in Darlington having averaged about 28kph over the 40km from home.

I had invited Dean out for a ride, but on his home turf - so I hadn't bothered planning the route. We rode south west from Darlington out to Stapleton where we turned right to Cleasby. This took us on routes used frequently by the Darlington Cycle Club and the CTC Teesside Section, through the fields south of the Tees and north of the A66. We breezed on to a crossing of the river on an iconic wooden bridge familiar to anyone who has ridden the London Edinburgh London route. Then up the zigzig climb to Whorlton and on to Barnard Castle.


In Barnard Castle we dropped down to the footbridge across the Tees. This avoided the single carriageway bridge at the foot of the castle walls. Now on to the B6277 Lartington Lane, we made our way through Cotherstone to Middleton-in-Teesdale. With apologies to AA Milne for adapting his teacosy song:

Cotherstone Cotherstone Cotherstone Pie,
A fly can't bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cotherstone Cotherstone Cotherstone Pie.

Cotherstone Cotherstone Cotherstone Pie,
A fish can't whistle and neither can I.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cotherstone Cotherstone Cotherstone Pie.

Cotherstone Cotherstone Cotherstone Pie,
Why does a chicken? I don't know why.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cotherstone Cotherstone Cotherstone Pie.

In Middleton-in-Teesdale we stopped for bacon sandwiches and coffee, to discuss the next roads we'd ride. Hudeshope had not been on my radar. I was thinking we'd go over Bollihope and Crawleyside, then back to Durham via Lanchester, Dean suggested the Westernhope Moor crossing past Chapelfell - but with only 6 hours trying to cover 100 miles in the Pennines was going to be a bit much. This was when we agreed Hudeshope.


We took this loop road in a clockwise direction so that we could turn left at High Dyke and cross Bollihope, and it starts with a 1-in-5 climb up Dent Bank. Once over this the road undulated along the western wall of the valley, with a great view of the road we'd be returning on later.


This is an infrequently ridden road. If strava is an indication of the number of cyclists who come this way, then our circuit added our names to a short "all-time" league table of 31 riders; compared with the 944 recorded riders who've tackled the easy side of Bollihope!


Just as we dropped down to Middleton-in-Teesdale again we turned left and started the crossing of Bollihope, another fairly comfortable crossing for us both, and Dean was looking forward to the descent because this was the first time in ages he was not riding fixed.


Hudeshope had taken longer than expected, and it looked like Crawleyside was going to have to wait for another day. To get back to Durham in time we decided to take the Frosterly turning and think about either Tow Law, or the A689 back.


On the climb from Bollihope Burn to Hill End I was really enjoying feeling strong, and as I dripped sweat and tried to keep spinning on the climb I didn't notice Dean had punctured. I didn't notice until I'd dropped down the other side to Frosterley and checked my messages. So, back up and over Hill End again.

With time against us we decided to speed back along the A689; through Crook, Willington, Brancepeth and Langley Moor. I had a mental picture of this being a flat or downhill ride... I was wrong. Dean ripped my legs off on the climbs and we finally got back to Durham at 3pm. It was nice to discover that a bottle of Spitfire Ale fits neatly into a bottle cage, so we could relax in the back garden and enjoy a beer. Ride well ridden.


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