Ebchester and Milkwellburn Wood
This eight mile circular walk takes in Ebchester and Milkwellburn Wood. It starts at Ebchester Station Picnic Area and heads down the hill towards the village. It then continues onwards through the village, close to the remnants of Vindomora Roman Fort.
On leaving the village, we will walk through an area of woodland. Hepper Hill Park Wood follows the Mill Burn up to Lead Lane. We will cross this lane and enter Meirs Wood. On leaving this wood we will walk up to Hollings Farm and along the road to Hollings Hill Quarry. After passing the quarry we will enter Milkwellburn Wood.
Throughout the woods we will see various areas of woodland and streams. We will also see various man-made structures on our route. These are a result of the industrial history of the area.
At the exit of Milkwellburn Wood at Blackhall Mill where we will cross the river using the footbridge. From here we will walk up to Hamsterley and on to the Derwent Walk. We will follow the short stretch of the Derwent Walk back to the start and finally end the walk at Ebchester Station Picnic Area.
Ebchester and Vindomora
The name Ebchester is derived from the name Ebba and the word chester. Supposedly, St Ebba founded a nunnery here in 660 AD by , hence the Eb of Ebchester. Chester is the roman word for fortification. The fortification is, of course, the roman camp of Vindomora, upon which the current village was constructed.
Remnants of the roman fort are still visible in the village. However, much of the stone from the fort has been used in the buildings of Ebchester village. St Ebba’s parish church is a good example of a building constructed from the Vindamora stone.
Durham Wildlife Trust manage Milkwellburn Wood. The wood is open to the public all year round and is very popular with dog walkers. It was once dominated by ancient oak, which have slowly been overtaken by coniferous trees. The wood consists of steep sided gills and gullies, home to a range of flora and fauna, including many mosses and ferns.
The Trust are planning to return the wood back to native woodland, as it originally was. This involves removal of conifers and allowing native species to grow in their place.
The Derwent Walk
The Derwent Walk is a multi-use path that follows the old trackbed of disused Derwent Valley Railway. This railway operated from 1867, until its closure in 1963. It stretches over about 11 miles, between Swalwell and Consett, over a very scenic route. As a result, The Derwent Walk is one of the most popular walks in the North East.