Northumberland National Park
Northumberland National Park stretches along the border with Scotland and is England’s most tranquil and least populated corner, although the cities of Edinburgh and Newcastle are just over an hour away. The Park provides 400 square miles of crystal clear air, wide horizons, scented heather moorlands and hidden wooded valleys with musical streams to make this protected landscape a joy for those who love nature, walking and relaxing. All of these great attributes, the enormous variety, the tranquillity, the vast open spaces and stunning iconic landscapes make the Northumberland National Park a wonderful place to explore on foot.
The Park boundary, which hugs the western boundary of Northumberland, includes a large part of the wide and lonely Cheviot Hills. These wild uplands have a character of their own with a more undulating irregular profile than the whaleback hills of the Pennines. Peaks such as Yeavering Bell, Hedgehope and Peel Fell are more clearly defined. The hillside vegetation consists mainly of fine grasses and the rivers run in narrow dales draining to the east.
Alwinton lies in Upper Coquetdale on the eastern edge of the Park, where undulating farmland gives way to the crowding hills whose tussock covered slopes dominate the narrow valley floor below where the rivers Alwin and Coquet meet. These are the outriders of the Cheviots which mass towards the higher ground of the Scottish border. The village has an unusual split-level church where the chancel is ten steps above the nave. Standing on a hillside just south of the village the mainly 13th century St Michael’s and its churchyard are worth visiting. Each October the village hosts a famous sheep dog trial and show. You can start a walk from Alwinton going all the way to the Scottish border at Russell’s Cairn on the summit of Windy Gyle by following the ancient drovers’ road Clennell Street.
A Walk from Alwinton [NT 921064] OS Maps: Explorer™ OL16
From the hillside village of Alwinton this walk takes you on an ascent of Barrow Scar and then returns past the spectacular waterfalls of Coquet Gorge. Leave the village heading westward into the hills and after some 700 yards go through a gate on the left marked Barrow Mill. Head towards the farm, pass through a further gate into a field which you cross, and then through another gate to reach the river bank. The river is not deep, but needs to be forded at this point - exciting isn't it! (Take thick plastic bags to tie over your feet to avoid your boots leaking). Cross the field in front of you and stick with the line of the fence which brings you to yet another gate. Walk toward the derelict farm buildings and stay on the track that takes you to the south-west corner of a wood.
You now begin your ascent of Barrow Scar as you skirt the woodland for about half a mile. Then take the lesser track over the heather-clad slopes on the right. The ground rises until you reach a fence, the line of which leads over Barrow Scar. When you come to a second fence walk along this until you come to a style, then descend towards the bend in the river. You are now heading towards Linshiels Farm, reached after crossing a further three stiles. Pass through the farmyard, over a pair of bridges and pick up the road.
Turn left for a short distance until you see the sign for Shillmoor. Head off up the slope, cross the stile and take the pathway that runs past the Coquet Gorge and waterfalls, taking care on the steep descent. On reaching a junction take the right-hand higher fork and skirt the crest to join a further track coming in from your left. Turn right onto this path and head uphill. At the gentle summit keep going over the level plateau and then head downhill to a stile. Cross this, keep on the trackway, cross another stile after which you will meet the road. Turn left to return to Alwinton. About 4.5 miles.
Best Pub for this walk
Rose and Thistle Tel: 01669 650226
This is an ancient inn nestling in the fold that the village occupies and offers a warm and friendly welcome. Bar meals are available at lunchtime and in the evening, except for Monday. The menu offers a typical good value choice of starters, main courses and deserts. The inn has a claim to fame in that Sir Walter Scott stayed here when he was working on the novel 'Rob Roy'
This walk is fully described in the guidebook 'Pub Walks in Northumberland' by John Sadler
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