Cockfield Fell

Cockfield Map

Cockfield Fell is described as “one of the most important early industrial landscapes in Britain”. In addition to four Iron Age (or Romano-British) settlement enclosures, there is evidence within the landscape of early coal mines (the Bishop of Durham licensed mining here at least as early as 1303), medieval agricultural field patterns, centuries of quarrying activity, a railway line established in the 1830s and several earlier tramways All together, Cockfield Fell constitutes England’s largest Scheduled Ancient Monument, described as ‘an incomparable association of field monuments relating to the Iron settlement history and industrial evolution of a northern English County’. One reason for its preservation – unusual for a lowland fell – is that it was not subject to enclosure in the 18th or 19th centuries, perhaps due to its highly industrialised past. Source


The fell is ablaze with fragrant golden whin

The Cleveland Dyke outcrops on the fell and was quarried for roadstone.

The remains of the Gaunless Viaduct

Gaunless ME gaghenles ‘useless’ (from ON gagnlauss). The name may refer to scarcity of fish or the like. English Place-Names. Eilert Ekwall. 1959 


Coal was mined on the fell from the early medieval period until the late nineteenth century

Beehive coke ovens on the valley floor


A beautiful Cob keeps me company

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Many thanks to Graham Vasey for showing me around this wonderful place


The Old River – Portrack

The Old River - Portrack

The first major undertaking of the Tees Navigation Company was inaugurated on 18th September 1810 with the opening of the Mandale Cut, near Stockton. This 200 yard canal, which by-passed a meander loop in the channel of the river and reduced the distance to Stockton from the estuary by over 2 miles. At a celebratory dinner after the ceremony, the first public reference was made to the idea of constructing a railway or canal for the conveyance of coal from the pits in County Durham to centres in the south of the county. Eventually, this led to the establishing of the Stockton & Darlington Railway.