Rookhope is a village in County Durham and a former lead and fluorspar mining community. It is situated in the Pennines north of Weardale.
A local landmark is the Rookhope Arch at Lintzgarth, a few hundred metres from the village centre. This horizontal chimney used to carry flue gases from the lead smelting works up to the moor. Lead and silver deposited in the chimney were periodically dug out and recovered.
The poet WH Auden was a regular visitor as a boy to the North Pennines and first 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 an individual person:
‘In ROOKHOPE I was first aware, of self and not-self, Death and Dread…’
He once called Rookhope, “the most wonderfully desolate of all the dales”.