Northumberland - The Hills

Dry stone wall Simonside Hills Northumberland England UK by Dave Head Shutterstock
Dry-stone walls are a feature of the Simonside Hills © Dave Head, Shutterstock

There’s a lot to pack in: hiking through valleys to waterfalls, watching the salmon run, searching for prehistoric rock art.

Solitude and big landscapes are guaranteed in the northern reaches of Northumberland National Park. There’s a lot to pack in: hiking through valleys to waterfalls, watching the salmon run, searching for prehistoric rock art, cycling old drovers’ trails, climbing heather covered crags and exploring ruined castles.

The Cheviots can seem desolate with their largely tree-less slopes and covering of sub-montane grasses and shrubs, but between their folds are deep glacial valleys, trout-filled rivers, waterfalls and remote farmsteads. On many summits are remains of ancient hillforts and Bronze Age cairns.

Between the coast and Cheviot foothills, and extending for almost the entire length of Northumberland, is a long arc of craggy hills and moors hiding prehistoric rock carvings, castles, hillforts and an ancient wild cattle park. The best-known area is the Simonside Hills near Rothbury which should not be missed in August when the heather flowers turn the ridge deep pink.

The River Tweed marks the boundary with Scotland and is explored here along with places along its tributary, the River Till. Those who take a leisurely jaunt along these rivers will find a scattering of ruined castles and towers, and a couple of old world villages.

To access the national park and its hinterlands you can either shoot along the A697 or take a more meandering route (as described in this chapter) on old drovers’ trackways and unclassified roads that criss-cross the moors and hills and hug the courses of rivers. By tootling along country lanes you encounter quite a few hamlets, farms and 19th-century villages.

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