Derwent Walk Cycleway Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
The Derwent Walk cycleway is a linear cycling and walking path which runs from the river Tyne in Gateshead to Consett in County Durham.
It is signed as NCN14 for the whole way, and is approximately 12 miles long. The route forms part of the national C2C route for finishes in Tynemouth too.
Like many of the other cycleways in the North East it is based on the route of an old railway line, in this case the Derwent Valley railway which was closed in 1962.
The spectacular route passes through a variety of terrains from ancient woodland to meadows and country parks. As it’s an old railway, there are old stations which have been repurposed, and numerous bridges as well as some viaducts with stunning views across the tree tops. The best of these is the 500ft long nine arches viaduct.
The northern end of the route though the Derwent country park can be busy with walkers on pleasant days, but the rest of the route is generally very quiet and peaceful.
The route is a steady uphill grade from north to south, but is never very steep. It passes though, or close to, several villages along the route, Rowlands Gill, Hamsterley Mill, as well as the town centre of Consett.
At the southern end of the route near to where NCN14 crosses NCN7 at Hownsgill, there is an excellent tea room with some very fine views down the Browney valley.
There are spectacular views across the treetops at several points along the route, including views of Gibside from the nine arches viaduct.
Durham County Council who own and manage part of the route have published a detailed route guide to the whole route which is available here.
Almost everything in this route guide was done by Gary Dawes. Any errors however, are mine alone.
The route has a mix of surfaces from tar to self-compacting gravel. It is generally all ridable all year round.
Towards the southern end of the route between Hamsterley Mill and Consett, there are several points where the route crosses roads, and bridges have been removed. This results in short descents and ascents.
Most of these crossings have wide access barriers at the bottom. Although cyclable, it does usually mean you are starting a short sharp climb from a standing start, so it’s often easier to dismount and negotiate these on foot
Most kinds of bicycles can be used on the route. However, trikes and most cargo bikes may struggle to get through the barriers.
There are toilets and refreshments available at the visitor centres near the northern end of the route at Thornley wood and Swalwell, and there is a third “Land of Oak and Iron” centre in Winlaton Mill, which also has a café and toilets.
Refreshment stops: ⭐⭐⭐
Points of Interest
There are various outdoor sculptures at the southern end, both next to the route and a short distance away along NCN7 towards Consett. The “butterfly bridge” between Swalwell and the Nine Arches viaduct is also worth a stop.
There are 2 council ran visitor centres, at Swalwell, and Thornley Wood, and there is a third “Land of Oak and Iron” centre in Winlaton Mill which also has a café and toilets.
Routes in Durham
- Reivers Route – UK Coast To Coast Routes
- C2C – UK Coast to Coast Routes
- Lanchester Valley Railway Path
- Deerness Valley Railway Path cycle route
- The Waskerley Way traffic-free cycle route
- Thorpe Thewles to Ryhope traffic-free cycle route
- Derwent Walk Cycleway
- Two Rivers Cycleway
- Consett & Sunderland Railway Path
- Bowes Railway Path Traffic-free Cycle Route
There are several old access barriers along the northern end of the route though Swalwell, all are passable with conventional cycles, although some are only about 1m wide.
There is an access barrier in Rowlands Gill where the path joins the road, but there is a gap in the fence replacing an old kissing gate which can be ridden through.
Towards the southern end of the route between Hamsterley Mill and Consett, there are several points where the route crosses roads, and bridges have been removed. This results in short descents and ascents. Most of these crossings have wide access barriers at the bottom. Although cycleable, it does usually mean you are starting a short sharp climb from a standing start, so it’s often easier to dismount and negotiate these on foot.
Forecast for the Derwent Walk Cycleway
What it looks like
Getting to the Derwent Walk Cycleway
The start of the route is a short ride from the railway station in Newcastle, and is not far from the Metrocentre station on the Newcastle-Carlisle railway line. Before taking you bicycle on the train, first read my Bikes On Trains guide.
Consett is not on any rail link, but for the car free, the X70 and X71 buses between Consett, Stanley, Gateshead and Newcastle take bicycles.
To find more routes, click this link.
DayCycle routes are routes can can easily be cycled by most people in a day, or part of a day. Do have a look at all the other DayCycle routes available on WillCycle. Many contain detailed route guides, as well as embedded maps (like the one below).