Northumberland Walking Guide
The Northumberland National Park covers a diverse area of landscape between the Tyne and the Scotland England border. The highest point within the National Park is the Cheviot and besides this famous hill there are many other notable summits. The valleys are also of interest to walkers, although some have restricted access.
Northumberland is a large county in northeast England running south to the River Tyne from the often fiercely contested border with Scotland. The Cheviots form the western boundary, offering superb walking on rounded hills that stretch for miles in the wonderful solitude of the Northumberland National Park. In complete contrast are the golden sands that stretch for miles along the coast. The intervening land includes the rugged Simonsides, deep river valleys, expansive Kielder Water, and huge tracts of forest.
These borderlands were fought over for centuries: Stone-Age and Iron-Age men dug hilltop forts that can still be explored; Hadrian constructed his Wall to control entry to his Empire; the great lords of the Middle Ages built their castles as protectors from Scottish raiders and unwelcome visits from the sea. Great saints ministered including St Aidan and St Cuthbert whilst the area was home to Inventors including Lord Armstrong.
Unlike the Lake District and Peak District National Parks, this area lacks the proximity of large centres of population and hence suffers very little from crowds. Even today large areas of the Cheviots see few people and it is still possible to walk and enjoy complete silence apart from the sounds of nature!
Elsewhere in the County there is much of historic interest that can be combined with walking. The superb castles along the coast are a perfect excuse to put on those boots and explore the shoreline. Elsewhere there are many historic houses that can be easily incorporated into a walk providing an extra dimension to the content.
Long-distance footpaths in the area include the Pennine Way which meanders northwards along the border from the Tyne Gap to Kirk Yetholm a few miles inside Scotland. Another great path is the St Cuthbert Way, which explores some of the lesser known parts of this wonderful county.
Running along the southern edge of the county is Hadrian's Wall. Besides offering a marvellous insight into this remote outpost of the Roman Empire, the Wall provides an excellent excuse for walking with the paths following its course often requiring more exertion than you might think!
In between all this history is some fine rural scenery. The Aln, Coquet and Breamish Rivers in particular are all worth exploring. Dotted across the county are many towns and villages all providing a good base for exploration. Wooler, Rothbury, and Alnwick in particular offer ideal places to stay, being well located between the Cheviots and the North Sea coast.
In conclusion Northumberland has something for everyone especially if you want to avoid those crowds. Imagine being able to walk for eight miles across some of the finest country in England and not meeting a soul .... yes its true .... and for four hours the sound of the internal combustion engine was notable by its absence ... That's Northumberland!