River Tees: Far From The Water Bridge

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This route has a delightful blend of woodland and river scenery. We visit the cosy little village of Lartington and explore the sylvan valley of Deepdale Beck where a wide range of flora and fauna can be enjoyed.
Barnard Castle, or ‘Barney’ as it is more affection­ately known, is an ancient market town. It grew up in the shadow of Bernard de Balliol’s magnificent fortress, after which it is named. The castle dates from 1125 when the original timber structure was rebuilt in stone. It stands 80 feet (24m) above the river Tees and uses the natural defence of almost sheer cliffs on the west and south sides. The remains include the Great Hall and a large circular keep – the Round Tower, also known as the Balliol Tower.
In 1569, during the Rising
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This was constructed in 1893 to convey water from the reservoirs in Baldersdale to the towns and industries on Teesside. The aqueduct, known locally as the Water Bridge, provides a safe crossing of the river and has a fine view of the castle.
After crossing the river we follow the Teesdale Way to the remains of the Tees Viaduct. This was built in 1861 to carry the railway to Kirby Stephen and Middleton-in-Teesdale. The viaduct had six tall piers, four of which stood in the river. The line closed in 1965 and the viaduct was demolished in 1972. Plans were put forward, in 2002, to erect a rope suspension bridge between the two remaining piers. If this ever came to fruition, it would be the world’s longest rope suspension bridge at a distance of 600 feet (183m).
Our walk continues through the fields to Lartington Hall. Built in 1635 during the reign of Charles I, Lartington Hall was the ancestral home of the Maires family. They were one of the North’s wealthiest Catholic families, whose ancestry has been traced to the twelfth-century Lords of Appleby. The hall served as a Red Cross convalescent home during the war and after extensive restoration it became a hotel. The restored gardens were originally laid out by architect Joseph Hansom, most famous for introducing the Hansom
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This area has been landscaped at some time and is planted with Giant Wellingtonia trees. There are also traces of ornamental ponds and waterfalls.
Leaving the village we pass the Lartington Aqueduct and then continue into the sylvan valley of Deepdale. The aqueduct was built in 1863 to take the beck over a railway cutting, through which the South Durham and Lancashire Union Railway ran. We also pass the site of the Deepdale Viaduct, opened in 1861, to carry the railway on to Tebay. This was 740 feet (225m) in length with eleven spans across the river and it stood 161 feet (49m) above Deepdale Beck.
Deepdale contains some of the richest deciduous woodland in Upper Teesdale and is a haven for birds and wild flowers. Great spotted woodpecker, robin, tree creeper and grey wagtail are often seen and, with patience, kingfisher. You may also spot the brown argus and dark green fritillary butterflies. Our path leads us back to the main road.
Now we follow the road into Barnard Castle via County Bridge, another bridge so named because the river Tees was the former border of Yorkshire and the Palatinate of Durham. From the bridge we continue up through the town passing the Butter Cross and return to our parking

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