This month we are heading north to explore the beauty of Northumberland National Park, an adventure playground spanning 400 square miles that starts at the Scottish Border in the north and travels down to Hadrian’s Wall in the south. ‘Home to England’s cleanest rivers, clearest air and darkest skies’ Northumberland National Park offers 700 miles of footpaths that can be explored by foot, bike, horseback or on the end of a climbing rope.
If you are a lover of history and culture you will be rewarded by sites from the Roman and Reiver times including the world famous Hadrian Wall and the Drake Stone, as well as the startling image of the Sycamore Gap – a singular tree nestled in a small valley, which won the prestigious ‘Tree of the Year’ award in 2016 and is now the most photographed tree in the world.
Nature lovers will be inspired by the varied landscapes of the least populated National Park in the UK and treated to rare sightings of red squirrel, black grouse and the Curlew Moorland bird. So if peace, beauty, exploration, nature and stunning views appeal to you, it’s definitely time to schedule a visit to Northumberland National Park.
With such a wide range of activities on offer we wouldn’t blame you for being confused about where to start, so we’ve highlighted some of our favourite walks to suit all abilities and appetites.
If you are prepared for a challenging hike that will reward you with breath taking 360 degree views of the Scottish Lowlands, the Eildons, Bowmont Water, the River Till and the coastal plain leading to the North Sea which is visible on a clear day, then this climb will deliver. At 3.5 miles, the walk is short but steep but with beautiful views and the opportunity to spot wildlife such as Kingfishers, Herons, Buzzards and Ketrel, so take your time and soak everything in as you make your way to the top.
College Valley is situated on the Northern edge of the Cheviot Hills and is an area of renowned beauty. The valley is a haven for wildlife such as roe deer, red squirrel, otters and even feral goats, which rumour has it were released by monks from Holy Island during medieval times! If you aren’t lured by the challenge of climbing the Cheviot Massif (the highest hill in the North-East of England) then this circular 4.75 miles walk offers an incredible alternative and is a fantastic introduction to the College Valley area.
If you are looking for a longer walk to wile the day away, then this 7 mile route starts out from the tiny village of Falstone which lies at the foot of Kielder Dam, the largest man made reservoir in Europe. A couple of miles out of Falstone you will loop round the edge of Donkley Wood and return along the banks of the River Tyne. Keep a sharp look out for heron, dipper and wagtail on your way home.
Hareshaw Linn Walk is a must for all plant lovers! Designated as a Site of Specific Scientific Interest because of its rare ferns and lichens, Hareshaw Linn has more than 300 different types of mosses, liverworts and lichen to explore. Previously a site of two blast fernaces, which in turn were supported by seventy coke ovens, twenty four large roasting kilns, a range of coal stores, a black- smiths shop, wagon shed, stables and stores until 1848; it is an extraordinary example of just how well nature recovers and takes over when left to its own devices.