Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Rookhope is a village in County Durham, in England. A former lead and fluorspar mining community, it first existed as a group of cattle farms in the 13th Century. It is situated in the Pennines to the north of Weardale. W. H. Auden once called Rookhope 'the most wonderfully desolate of all the dales'.

The village pub, the Rookhope Inn and the Swallow's Rest on the fell surrounding Rookhope are popular with cyclists on the coast to coast cycling route which runs from Sunderland on the east coast to Whitehaven on the west coast of northern England.

Rookhope Arch


A local landmark is the Rookhope Arch at Lintzgarth, a few hundred yards west up the valley; one of the few remaining parts of the two mile (3 km) Rookhope Chimney. This "horizontal" chimney (parallel to the ground, which actually rises steeply to the moors) was used to carry poisonous flue gases from the Rookhope lead smelting works up onto the high moor. Periodically, lead and silver carried over in the gases and deposited in the chimney were dug out and recovered, rather than going to waste.

St John the Evangelist church


St John the Evangelist Church was built in 1905. It is a Grade 2 listed building. In August 2014 the church was being sold.

Literary references


The Rookhope Ride

The Rookhope Ride is a ballad rescued and noted down by Joseph Ritson from the chanting of George Collingwood of Boltsburn near Rookhope about 1785. The date of the action (a raid) is precise: 6 December [1569?], when robbers from Tynedale made a foray into Weardale.


The poet W. H. Auden was familiar with this whole area of the North Pennines and its derelict lead mines, having visited Rookhope at the age of 12 in 1919. In his poem New Year Letter (1941) he wrote that it was in Rookhope that he first became aware of himself as a poet:

In ROOKHOPE I was first aware
Of self and not-self, Death and Dread...

In this poem he refers to dropping a pebble down a mine-shaft on top of neighbouring Bolt's Law.



External links

  • Past Perfect: Old Rookhope (lead working)
  • In and Around the former lead mining village of Rookhope; and Rookhope fields & fells: A mineral valleys project walk

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