Most of it is walkable, obviously at the Pelaw end you can't pass a certain point or you're trespassing onto the active railway.
If you plan on exploring it go with people! There a number of unsavoury characters who use it. When I walked it I probably saw at least 4 or 5 used needles along with the odd condom... Keep your wits about you and don't stay on it after dark.
I haven't been on it for a good 4 or 5 years now though, so things may have changed with new housing etc.
I've walked it from the north end where it is crossed by Follingsby Lane at Wardley to Fencehouses, and also taken a peek at the remaining formation further south around Rainton Meadows. The down line was more overgrown than the up line where a twin track formation was still extant, but the route was entirely passable on foot and now that the track has been recovered you might find that a lot of additional vegetation clearance has taken place in the nine years or so since I did it.
Good evening. I have just signed-up to the forum. I have a plan to start exploring my local disused lines now that I am retired.
One of the first of my local lines I plan to explore is the Leamside line. Does anyone have any further updates on the current state of access to the line? I'm hoping to start at Pelaw and go through to Washington Station some time in the next couple of weeks, then at a later date to get dropped-off at Tursdale then walk back to Washington. Any points where access is denied, or difficult? I have the latest edition of Landranger Sheet 88, but I'm well aware that things can change quickly after publication of maps.
I have walked the Washington section today, although I went the opposite way to that which I mentioned ^^^ above.
I first got on to the trackbed about 400mtrs north of Victoria Viaduct, near the junction of the former Stanhope & Tyne Railway (now the Consett & Sunderland Railway Path). At the south-western end of the site of Washington station, the trackbed is fenced-off. I had to divert to the right, onto Wilden Road, then left (Sterling Close) before turning left again onto Station Road where a path has been beaten up the embankment to the north-east of Station Road bridge.
The trackbed is then distinct, although very overgrown and narrow for some distance. Approaching the ASDA Distribution Centre, there is a fenced-off bridge over a footpath (once a narrow lane?). Only the bridge is fenced, and you have to go down the embankment, across the footpath, and back up the embankment. Again, paths have been beaten on the embankment, but they are steep.
The trackbed remains distinct, and passes under the A1231, to the site of the level crossing on the A1290 close-by the new Fire Station. The dead-straight walk continues, crossing the River Don to the site of the Follingsby Lane level crossing. Up to this point, all the track has been lifted, and I spotted a few random discarded concrete sleepers along the way.
From here, the line is inaccessible - fenced-off with no visible way around it, and "No Trespassing" signs clearly visible. So I called it a day, having walked 3.25mls of the line, according to my eTrex GPS device. Through the fence I could see a siding, with track and buffer intact, on the site of what would have been Wardley Colliery.
I didn't see any "unsavoury characters" (or anyone at all, for that matter) and no obvious sightings of discarded hyperdermics or condoms - as mentioned above. However, there were plenty of discarded plastic fizzy-pop bottles, lager cans, energy drink cans, and several sites where fly-tipping has occurred.
I have recently completed the walk south from Victoria Viaduct to Tursdale.
Starting with a scramble up the embankment from the footpath along the River Wear, the walk was straightforward as far as the bridge at Broomside Lane/Pittington Lane on the outskirts of Durham. Beneath the bridge there was a large pool of deep water right across the trackbed. It extended a few metres either side of the bridge and necessitated another up/down embankment scramble. The water was too deep for me to negotiate in my walking boots.
After that there were no problems all the way to Tursdale, where I couldn't a legal way off the line so I had to back-track to Bowburn.
As per my observations at Washington, there were several points where fly-tipping has occurred, and where the line passes between West Rainton and Leamside, there were actually some scallies in the process of emptying a large van from adjacent to a housing estate - in broad daylight.