Sparsely populated and home to England’s largest forest and countless empty beaches, Northumberland is a walker’s paradise. With a startling quality of heather, moors, hills and coastline, it’s often hard to know where to begin, particularly if you’re only stopping for a few days. We’ve listed a few of the best walks in Northumberland for this very reason, so it’s time to stop deliberating and get your boots on.
A circular coastal walk from Alnmouth
OS Explorer map 332; start: The Wynd, Alnmouth, NU246106; 2 miles; difficulty: easy; refreshments in Alnmouth
This is a fairly easy family route with expansive sea views, beach walking and rockpools.
At the north end of Northumberland Street, Alnmouth’s main thoroughfare, wander down The Wynd towards the sea. When you come to a junction, turn left and continue to the golf club entrance where there’s a footpath fingerpost by a road hump. Veering left here will lead to an uphill dirt path offering good views of the coastline.
After half a mile or so you’ll reach a fork in the path by a golf green. Go straight downhill here, crossing the green until you reach the beach, which opens by Marden Rocks (good for rock pooling). Turn right and walk back to Alnmouth along the beach, re-entering the village at the southern end. A pint and hearty lunch await at the Red Lion.
Round-island walk of Lindisfarne
OS Explorer map 340; start: first public car park you come to on reaching the island from the causeway, NU125424; 5 miles; difficulty: fairly easy on uneven & soft paths
It takes a couple of hours to complete this circular trail, which is a beautiful walk with constant views of the sea, and culminates in the priory and castle.
The last time I walked around the island on a gloriously sunny morning in September, I didn’t meet anyone for the first hour and had the beaches on the north side of the island all to myself. As for the route, you hardly need a map; just a sense of the shape of the island and the location of the village and castle in relation to the dunes and causeway.
Two valleys hike via The Cheviot
Unless you’re really fit, you’ll want to take two days to complete this strenuous circular route from Harthope Valley over The Cheviot to College Valley.
Practicalities aside, this has to be one of the best long walks in Northumberland. It takes in two of the finest Cheviot valleys and provides many stupendous views of the endlessly folding Cheviot range, where solitude and hardiness reign.
Steel Rigg: a classic Hadrian’s Wall walk
This well-trodden circular walk takes in some of the most photographed scenery in Hadrian’s Wall country and gives you two perspectives of the Wall: from the Whin Sill looking north across farmland into ‘barbarian’ country, and from below the crags gazing up at the Wall ribboned along the edge of the spectacular escarpment.
If you extend the route to Winshield Crags on your return, you’ll also experience one of the most breathtaking views in the whole of the region, from Cumbria to the east coast.
The South Tyne Trail by bicycle or on foot: Haltwhistle to Alston
The mixed-use waymarked South Tyne Trail is an ideal way to discover the valley and some of the best river, woodland and hill country in the North Pennines.
For the most part it follows the railway path and as the route continues south, walkers stay close to the riverside while cyclists take a quiet hilly lane via Leadgate.
Eager to explore more of Northumberland on foot? Check out our comprehensive guide: