Middlestown to Briestfield (Walking) Route Details

Route Description

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A walk around the pretty and rural valley between Thornhill and Overton, making use of the dense network of quiet roads and paths. Despite the proximity of builtup areas, the walk is suprisingly quiet and rural.


The bridleways are mostly farm tracks so farm and horse traffic ensures the ways remain clear of bogginess and overgrowth. Many of the footpaths can be overgrown in midsummer as they simply don't get much traffic. Waymarking is not always good so you need to be careful in your navigation.

Hazards and warnings


Detailed description

This is one possible walk of many in the area. In contrast with some of the surrounding area, the valley is tranquill, rural and obviously a highly desirable place to live, judging by the expensive cars sitting in front of immaculate cottages. Thanks to the long history of small scale coal mining here, there is a dense network of narrow lanes, an abundance of bridleways and plenty of footpaths, many surfaced in stone slabs to aid the packhorses which were use to move the coal. The coal mining history is not obvious at first glance, but the many paths connecting areas of disturbed ground and small densely vegetated spoil heaps hint at the past. In many places you can see above the valley, the now rare sight of pit head winding gear, at the former site of the Cap House Mine, now the excellent National Coal Mining Musuem.

From the centre of the village follow the footpath round the back of the Little Bull pub and down the back of the village. Cross the road and head into the wooded area of Emroyd Common. In common with a lot of this area, the common area is scared with coal spoil tips, but trees have reclaimed it, producing a landscape of dense woodland covering stangely lumpy ground.

After emerging from the woods, briefly head back up to the A642, and then take a minor road on the right which plunges steeply downhill. The road passes through some woods on a pleasantly small and quiet road. At the bottom of the hill, climb up and head left up Carr Lane to Briestfield. Then pass the now closed pub, and head west along the road, until you see a footpath on the right. Take the steeply downhill stone slabbed path (which can be overgrown), over a stream, and back up the hill to emerge on the road by Whitley Church. Carry on up the the road, (if you don't fancy visiting a cafe there's a footpath to avoid the main road), and turn left. There's an icecream parlour called Charlottes Jersey Icecream Parlour which makes nice stop on the road.

Turn left at the crossroads and head down the road. At the bottom of the hill take the bridleway along the valley floor, through the woods, until you reach Back Lane, which is a muddy track heading uphill to Briestfield. At the road, very near to where you passed earlier, head right and downhill, and then take a small road back towards Briestfield. The road turns into a narrow bumpy lane, which turns into a farm track. At the crossroads of several farm track, head across fields to Lower Denby Farm. Head down the track (the OS map shows a footpath across fields, which doesn't seem to exist), before taking a footpath into the woods.

Head through a series of small pleasant woods, until just before the farm, another small footpath carries on across fields. The area here is still marked with small mounds left by previous coal mines, and above you can be seen the now unusual sight of the winding gear of the National Coal Mining Museum. Carry on through a small wood, and up a steep grassy hill, until ahead of you can be seen a gate and grass track leading to the main road. Carry on up the main road. If you have time, you can return via another track through the upper part of Emroyd Common. We choose to follow the road, as rain was threatening.

Route Map

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