West Loups’s Abandoned Farmstead

A simple there and back walk to West Loups’s Abandoned Farmstead on Cotherstone Moor near Bowes in Teesdale, Co. Durham. Please note that West Loups’s is on an active Army Firing Range. Access is prohibited (for your own safety) when the Red Warning Flags or Lights are flying.

On Location: 24th March 2024.

Parking: There is a small parking area on the west side of the road across the moor at GR: NY 9967 1770. Please be aware that spaces here are limited, room for about 4 cars but is doesn’t usually get busy.

This route to West Loups’s Abandoned Farmstead crosses Cotherstone Moor which is located between the villages of Bowes and Cotherstone. The moor is managed for grouse shooting but depending on the time of year you will not only see Red Grouse but also a wide variety of other upland birds. This being the case, please observe the notices about keeping dogs under close control during the nesting season. The route is all on public footpaths.

Route map: click on the arrow to play the route. Route files in various formats are available by clicking in the Plotaroute.com link at the bottom right.

On leaving the car park we headed west across the moor on a public footpath. After about 300m the path joins a good vehicle track which we followed. The Army range is over to our left at this point. 1km along this track we came to a gate with a warning sign that we are now entering the range area.

No firing today so we passed through the gate and headed up towards East Loups’s. To our right are these three distinctive trees and a view over into Teesdale.

Ahead are the ruins of East Loups’s farm, a property which was taken over by the Army in the war. It was meant to be handed back when hostilities ceased but this never happened. It fell into decay. The name Loups’s is interesting, it comes from middle English, from Old Norse hlaupa; akin to Old English hlēapan to leap. Apparently near here was a beck or stream that could only be crossed by jumping/leaping. Hence the name. We pass to the left of the old house and follow the track slightly uphill. Passing by a small wood on our left we take a few minutes to look at the old lime kiln and rock art slab on the right. This is indicated by an information board. Keep on the track and the flat top of Goldsborough comes into view with Shacklesborough beyond.

We now head for the two trees on the skyline.

The two trees, one birch and one pine are surrounded by a low fallen wall. It is a great location to take a break and admire the views. As long as the weather is good.

Looking back towards Hury reservoir and Teesdale. From here we continue west. Passing though a gate we leave the range area and back on to the open moor. We turn left (south) over the moor which can be wet in places. We pick up the path that forms the Pennine Way and pass through another gate.

Just beyond the gate is a small area of rock breaking through the turf. On closer inspection can be found a faint example of prehistoric rock art. A circle carved into the surface of the rock with four or five cup marks inside that ring. It is easily missed. To protect the work form the elements as small slab of rock is placed over the art. Please replace it when you are done. There are several other examples of prehistoric rock are in this vicinity.

We now take the public footpath that leads through West Loups’s Abandoned Farmstead. To reach the ruins we pass through another gate and re-enter the range area. In the photo above you can see the mound in the mid-distance that forms the butts to the range. Around the area of these buildings can be seen a series of mounds and ditches which date back to the medieval era. This area is classed as a scheduled monument.

This collection of buildings was a 17th century farmstead sited on the medieval settlement. Again, the area was used extensively by the army in World War 2 for training so the inhabitants were moved out. Apparently the army practiced their demolition drills on the empty buildings of West Loups’s so all but one are now almost flattened.

Oddly enough, the only building that seems to have been untouched it this one, the outside toilet.

East Loups's trees, Cothersone Moor, Teesdale

All the other structures are in a sad state but still show the quality of the building that once stood here.

Taking time to look around the site it can be seen that West Loups’s at one time must have been quite a gathering of houses and barns.

It is a remote and wild location, not bad on a day like today but in bad weather a different story.

There is even a broad lane that splits the settlement in two. We took time to explore the area carefully before it was time to head back to the start.

The return section of our walk was basically to follow the public footpath over the moor to the wood on the skyline. From there we used the track past East Loups’s which we had used earlier and returned to the car park.

A walk with lots of interest and good views. No great deal of ascent either, all in all a pleasant stroll out on Cotherstone Moor. A good way to pass a couple of hours.

I hope you have enjoyed the walk.

Thank you for reading.

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