History of the Derwent Walk
Hollinside Manor is a 13th century manor house situated east of the Nine Arches Viaduct. From the Manor there are commanding views of the Country Park and surrounding countryside. It was the home of the Harding family for two centuries during which time the manor became known as the 'Giant's Castle' since the men folk were very tall. The estate passed on to George Bowes of Gibside in 1730 for the sum of £10,000. Today the Manor is an Ancient Monument.
Until 1986,Derwenthaugh Park was the site of the Derwenthaugh Coke Works. Opened in 1928 it took coal from the Chopwell colliery and the resulting coke was shipped from the staithes on the River Tyne at Derwenthaugh. In the 18th and 19th centuries Crowley's Ironworks dominated the site.These were the largest ironworks in Europe at the time.The workers lived in old Winlaton Mill which was situated along the lane beside the Golden Lion Inn.The village was demolished and re-built on its present site in 1937.
The Hall was built in 1758 by James Paine for Sir Thomas Clavering, an eminent politician who represented County Durham in four Parliaments.
High Forge and Swalwell Visitor Centre
The Swalwell Visitor Centre is built on the site of an old iron/steel forge which was powered by water from the River Derwent. The power for the mill came from a race, which drew water from the weir at Dam Head. The weir, known as 'The Lady's Steps', was a popular picnic spot in Victorian times. Part of the mill race can still be seen in Swalwell Village, but most of it has been covered over.
Although it is difficult to imagine now, Clockburn Lonnen was once the main highway from the north to Durham. It crossed the River Tyne at Newburn then passed to Winlaton via Blaydon Burn and from there to old Winlaton Mill, crossing the Derwent and following Clockburn Lonnen to Durham. Cromwell's army of 16,000 men passed this way on the 15th July 1650 on their way to the Battle of Dunbar.
Derwent Valley Railway
The Derwent Valley Railway was opened in 1867 after three years hard building work. Four viaducts were constructed and a deep, 800 metres long cutting was dug near Rowlands Gill. Stations were built at Shotley Bridge, Ebchester, High Westwood, Lintz Green, Rowlands Gill and Swalwell. At its peak the railway was carrying over half a million passengers a year with regular goods traffic of timber,bricks and coal to Newcastle and iron ore to Consett. As road traffic became more efficient the service declined until the line finally closed in 1962. The railway is commemorated in the Geordie folk song about an ill-fated train journey from Rowlands Gill, 'Wor Nanny's a Mazer'.
Nine Arches Viaduct
The Nine Arches Viaduct was one of the major engineering feats of the railway. It is five hundred feet long and was built because the Earl of Strathmore would not allow the railway to pass through the Gibside Estate.
From the Derwent Walk near Rowlands Gill there are panoramic views across to the Gibside Estate. The hall was completed in 1620 but the estate was not landscaped until the 18th century. The Column of Liberty, Orangery, Banqueting Hall and Chapel were all built during the landscaping period. The Estate is now owned by the National Trust and is open to the public.
The Butterfly Bridge and Winlaton Mill
The Butterfly Bridge was originally built in 1842 by John English. Lang Jack, as he was known, stood 6 feet 4 inches and worked as a stonemason on the old Scotswood Bridge before he built the Butterfly Bridge. The new bridge was built in 1950. Near the bridge are the remains of George Eavan's house, the miller of the flour mill. This ruin is all that remains of old Winlaton Mill. The village was very attractive with white-washed cottages and a stream running through the centre. Winlaton Mill was founded by Saxon families who chose to settle there after the Romans left the area.