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Walking in Northumberland

Northumberland is a paradise for those walkers who seek unspoilt and untamed landscape, space, solitude and that exhilarating sense of freedom that dramatic hill country can provide. Northumberland National Park and the Cheviot Hills provide spectacular scenery with vast straw coloured areas of open wilderness moorland and opportunities to see great wildlife including redshank and golden plover.

Stretching from the north of the county down the western side to the South Tyne valley the Park offers a range of scenic facets and walking possibilities. Of particular interest are the Breamish Valley, the beautiful Coquetdale and the Simonside Hills south of Rothbury which offer splendid views over much of Northumberland. On the west side of the National Park Kielder Forest Park offers quiet dark pine woods and the blue expanse of Kielder Water.

Crossing the county from the western border just south of the National Park to Newcastle upon Tyne in the east is Hadrian's Wall, northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire. Here the more gently undulating landscape retains the impression of space and walking the wall with nothing but the sound of the wind and the cries of the Curlew is an enjoyable experience. It's a fascinating one too, exploring the Roman forts and milecastles and marvelling at the scale of this civil engineering project and picturing the lives of the legionnaires who were stationed along it. You can walk the full length of the wall or just sections using the Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail.

South of Hadrian's Wall the land rises once more into the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is an area not to be missed, once again with remote moorland, but tempered with contrasting attractive villages such as Allendale and Blanchland near the Derwent Reservoir. This stunning area continues southwards into County Durham and the upper Tees Valley.

Much of Northumberland's coast from Berwick-upon-Tweed south to Alnmouth is an Area of outstanding Natural Beauty and a walk along part of this coast is yet another 'A' list project. The cliffs and beaches are superb and have the added advantage of being relatively free of people. The bracing climate and particularly the very common sea mist make the beaches unattractive to sun worshippers and so there has been little demand to develop the coast. This in turn, has ensured that wildlife has remained and walkers will be impressed with the variety of sea birds including terns, cormorants, fulmars, kittiwakes and many others. There are also two of Northumberland's many castles stunningly sited on the coast, Bamburgh and the ruined Dunstanburgh (NT), near Craster.

Blanchland is a delightful stone built model village on the banks of the River Derwent clustered around the church and nestled within woodland and moors. The name is derived from the white robes of the monks of the Premonstratensian Abbey, which was founded here in 1175 and dissolved in 1539. The village layout is based on a monastic plan and the church comprises the former chancel, crossing and north transept of the abbey church.

A Walk from Blanchland [NY 965505] OS Maps: Explorer™ 307

Most of this walk is over pastureland with attractive views along the Derwent valley. The final section is along the riverbank and a gentle bridleway stroll. The route takes in Baybridge, Allenshields, Rope Barn and Low Haugh. About 3.5 miles.

Best Pub for this walk
Blanchland Crewe ArmsLord Crewe Arms, Blanchland Tel: 01434 675251 (Good Pub Guide)
The tremendous age of this fine old hotel is evident everywhere. It was once the lodge of the Abbot of Blanchland and the abbey guesthouse. The attractive garden was the cloisters. The bar is a stone barrel-vaulted former storeroom. The lounge, with its huge fireplace was a room used by the monks for curing and storing bacon. There is an excellent range of bar meals available from filled rolls, ploughman's and soup to Cumberland sausage with black pudding, smoked salmon, prawn and tuna salad and pasta with Parma ham.
Friendly and comfortable farmhouse or B&B accommodation provide a perfect base to explore breathtaking views from the Cheviot Hills, Hadrian’s Wall Roman World Heritage Site and the natural sandy beaches of the Northumberland Coast.
This walk is fully described in the guidebook Pocket Pub Walks in Northumberland by Stuart Miller


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