County Durham Rambles - A walk around Butterwick Moor


Butterwick is a small, agricultural based hamlet which is situated approximately 2 miles due East of Sedgefield in County Durham in open farmland. According to Wikipedia Butterwick was originally mentioned in history in 1156 when it was called Boterwyk which loosely translates to butter farm. Roll the clock forward nearly nine hundred years and I would say the name is as apt now as it was then.

I actually did this walk in April 2023 as part of my seemingly never ending quest to walk every public right of way on the Ordnance Survey explorer map number 305, and was the first time I'd walked in this part of the county. The walk itself starts and finishes at a convenient lay by at the junction of Salter's Lane and Butterwick Road. Salter's Lane being a public bridleway. The lay by is large enough to park safely off the road and also boasts a dog waste bin for dog walkers. 

The above map shows the basic route along with the start/finish point which is SE of Fishburn on Butterwick Road. The picture below shows the location of the lay by at the junction with Salter's Lane. The walk itself covers six and a half miles of flat, mildly undulating ground. For the most part this involves walking on bridleways/public footpaths with only one short stretch of public road. I have also included a badly drawn map at the end of the text which I hope makes it easier to see which public bridleways and paths were followed when used in conjunction with the ordnance survey map.

For navigational purposes the whole of this walk is covered on the OS Explorer map no 305 (Bishop Auckland). There is some signage, but in keeping with the rest of the British countryside this is far from consistent.

It was a beautiful day when Scout (our Patterdale/Lakeland cross) and I marched enthusiastically down Salter's Lane with views of Butterwick Moor wind farm over to our right.

I have to say I'm in two minds when it comes to the aesthetics  of wind farms; sometimes I think they blend in with their surroundings and sometimes they don't. In the case of Butterwick Moor I think they do. Maybe it was because on the day they contrasted well with blue sky and the yellow of the Oils seed Rape which was all around us.

After 0.8 of a mile Salter's Lane makes a slight turn to the right where it crosses over the River Skerne. I have to be honest and say that although I knew the Skerne had it's source somewhere near Trimdon I didn't expect to encounter it on this walk, misguidedly believing it's course was a few miles further west toward Sedgefield.

The River Skerne above. This is the same river that runs through the centre of Darlington.

Not long after crossing the Skerne Salter's Lane makes a sharp right turn toward Butterwick Moor Farm, the public bridleway however, continues in a south easterly direction through what at the time was a field of Rape. This wasn't a problem as the path was clearly visible and there were no navigational issues. The field itself was still a little water logged from the winter rains and I would recommend avoiding using it when the ground isn't either dry or frozen.

After roughly half a mile the bridleway turns due south next to a ruined farm building which may have been a barn or farmhouse, or possibly even both. It always saddens me to see  buildings such as this that have falling into disrepair, and I always give a thought to those who built them as well as those who once lived/worked there.

Following the bridleway due south we crossed some fields that at the time were full of sheep which wasn't an issue, I always keep Scout on a lead whether there are livestock there or not. The only issue was the extra "fencing" the farmer had  put up around the field access points to guard against escapees (or walkers leaving them open) which were a bit awkward, but not impassable.

Once through the sheep fields we found ourselves walking along a well used track with a wooded area to our right (Butterwick Belt) and open fields to our left, well open save for the presence of the wind turbines. I did wonder if the track had once been a wind farm access road, something which caused a shiver to run down my spine having  spent more than my fair share of time on them in the past.

Careful attention needs to be paid to the map at this point, not because of the track which is easy to follow, but because of the right turn which is about to be made through trees of Butterwick Belt. Remember what I said earlier about the inconsistencies when it comes to public right of way markers? Well this is one of them...

The entrance to Butterwick Belt (above) and how it looked in April of 2023. Believe it or not this is a bridleway, not that I think any horses had passed through here recently judging by the height of the "tunnel" one had to scramble through. It did open up after around thirty yards and we found ourselves in a pleasant wood full of fiendish, tree climbing rabbits (squirrels) which was all very exciting for small dogs. Not so for the idiot who was holding onto the lead and found himself half way up a tree after them.

Looking back toward Butterwick Belt (above). As can be seen we were once again in fields of Oil seed Rape. 
After a short distance of around half a mile the path meets  Butterwick Road close to it's junction with the A689. We turned right here walking briskly in a northerly direction until we reached Butterwick itself, which is where we made another right turn onto a public bridleway which ran alongside East Farm. See below.

We followed the track for almost a mile and a half passing the wonderfully named Ten O'Clock Farm and Butterwick plantation as we did so. It should be noted that after a mile the bridleway becomes a public footpath, even though it is the same farm track, the bridleway having forked to the right prior to reaching Butterwick  plantation.

The bridle way with Butterwick Moor wind farm and Ten O'Clock Farm above, and the track leading  toward Butterwick Moor Farm below. This is a public footpath at this point which continues in a northerly direction where the track makes a 90 degree left turn in the distance. The footpath does not pass through Butterwick Moor Farm.

Having left the track we once again found ourselves in a field of yellow Rape, it was actually the same field of Rape we'd found ourselves in when we left Salter's Lane and it wasn't long before we came across the  Bridleway which we'd followed from Butterwick Moor Farm to the ruined farm building earlier in the day. After making a left turn we headed West, regaining Salter's Lane which we followed back to the lay by and the car.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this walk, maybe it was the change of scenery which was so different from the part of County Durham in which I live, or maybe it was the bright blue skies. I think the well maintained/easy to follow nature of the route also helped. As you can imagine when you set yourself the target of walking every public right of way on the map you have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth, fortunately on this walk there was very little in the way of rough. As mentioned earlier the section between Butterwick farm and the derelict farm building would be muddy in wet conditions, but other than that the majority of the walk was on good ground. Total distance 6.5 miles.

Notes for dog walkers:-
There is little or no water on the route so it would be wise to carry some for ones pooch, especially in the summer. There is a dog waste bin at the lay by at the start of the route. There were no prohibitive stiles or fences to scramble over on this route. We did encounter some livestock (Sheep) so please observe the countryside code and keep your dog on the lead.

Badly drawn map
I have attached a copy of a map I sketched out showing the route which if held alongside a copy of the Ordnance Survey Explorer map number 305 should show the bridleways and footpaths I used. Please don't use this as an in the field guide without the OS map.