Tag: northumberland national park

A Walk Around Walltown Country Park

Walltown Country Park lies on the line of Hadrian’s Wall and within the stunning Northumberland National Park.

Up until 45 years ago Walltown was still a working quarry where the whinstone (that forms the crag along which Hadrian’s Wall runs) was blasted with dynamite to provide road stone for the expanding road network of the early 20th Century. After it closed in 1976 the quarry was filled in and landscaped, planted with trees and flowers, and today is a haven for wildlife.

Walltown is just a mile from Greenhead and around 6 miles from The Sill Discovery Centre and Vindolanda and only a stone’s throw from The Roman Army Museum making it really accessible if you’re exploring other parts of Hadrian’s Wall. There’s plenty parking, EV charge points, loos, a visitor centre and there’s really handy information boards making it easy to decide which walk or route you might like to take once you get there. Choose from short 10 minute or 25 minute walks or a longer 40 minute nature trail where you will discover the park’s wildlife, birdlife, ponds and a peace labyrinth which was planted in 2011 with 2000 willow trees which once fully grown will form a giant labyrinth.

The car park at Walltown also gives access to the Thirlwall Castle Walk which is an easy 2 mile circular route which takes you along the Tipalt Burn and past the ruins of Thirlwall Castle. This relic of troubled times dates back to the 12th Century to when John Thirlwall built this defensive home to protect his family and of course it was a well chosen spot as he had a plentiful supply of dressed stone from a nearby very large wall.

From Walltown Country Park you can walk along Hadrian’s Wall to Walltown Crags to see one of the most dramatic views of Hadrian’s Wall. The wall is so well preserved at this site and the sheer volcanic rock edge plunges into the landscape along the crags of the Whin Sill creating a spectacular viewpoint.

A day time visit to Walltown Country Park is all about woodlands, walking and wildlife, you’ll find it perfectly peaceful and wonderfully scenic and yet as night falls it is also the perfect place to see the amazing dark and starlit skies of Northumberland. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Visit Rothbury

Northumberland boasts many lovely towns but none perhaps as remote and picturesque as the traditional market town of Rothbury which sits in the heart of the Coquet Valley and within the stunning Northumberland National Park. Both the town and the surrounding area are perfect for a day out enjoying rural Northumberland.

alt="Coquetdale hills with purple heather with Rothbury in the distance"
Rothbury tucked away in the distance in Coquetdale

Known as the ‘capital of Coquetdale’, Rothbury is a thriving market town with welcoming pubs, cafés, art and craft galleries and boasts a number of traditional independent shops along it’s quaint high street. There’s two car parks, loos, picnic area and if you fancy a stroll by the river then there’s a lovely riverside walk that takes you along the banks of the River Coquet.

Rothbury is fantastic place to access all types of walks so if you’re looking for something more a leisurely walk then the Simonside Hills must not be missed and as a Special Area of Conservation you may encounter wildlife such as the curlew, red grouse, mountain bumblebee, and even red squirrels and there are marked walking trails to keep you on the right path. Get to the top of the Simonside Ridge walk and you will enjoy a spectacular 360 degree view encompassing the Cheviot Hills and North Sea coastline.

The area surrounding Rothbury is full of surprises, and no more so than Lordenshaws which is just a short drive out of Rothbury and where you can take in the impressive remains of an Iron Age hillfort built 2,000 years ago. You will see burial mounds and intriguing cup and ring rock carvings that our ancestors left behind and in fact this site has one of the largest clusters of ancient cup and ring marked stones in the country.

Rothbury is also home to the wonderful Cragside House, Gardens & Estate which is a National Trust property not to be missed.

The house is a showcase of Victorian gadgets and inventions for efficient and modern living and witness for yourself how this grand Victorian mansion was powered by hydroelectricity and hydraulics. Outside is just as impressive and with around 1000 acres there’s a lot to enjoy, the Formal Garden, Pinetum, The Rock Garden, the Carriage Drive and the opportunity to discover more of the science and engineering behind how William Armstrong harnessed the force of water.

Whatever you’re looking to do during your stay in Northumberland, be it gardens or walking or shopping or history, the lovely market town of Rothbury offers it all.

Charming Villages – Otterburn

The remote and small village of Otterburn sits in Redesdale on the banks of the River Rede in some of the most stunning and picturesque countryside that lies within the Northumberland National Park. It may be small but Otterburn has a vibrant and thriving community and is home to a small selection of shops and pubs as well as the renowned Otterburn Mill.

The whole of the Redesdale Valley and Otterburn Ranges are a haven for wildlife as birds and animals are able to thrive in this remote landscape. Although nearly a quarter of the Northumberland National Park is owned by the Ministry of Defence and used as a military training area it is the shared aim of the Northumberland National Park and the MoD to encourage as much access to the area as possible. The area boasts amazing walking opportunities and you will encounter some of the most spectacular unspoilt landscapes and views that will simply take your breath away. There are walking routes both on and off the ranges but please note the walks on any part of the ranges are inaccessible when the red flags are flying, a guide to accessing the ranges can be found here.

The Percy Monument, also known as the Battle Stone, lies just north-west of the village. It commemorates the Battle of Otterburn which took place in 1388 and is named after the Percys of Northumberland who lost the battle against their arch enemies, the Douglases of Scotland. You can take a lovely walk up to the Percy Monument from Otterburn and take in the site of this iron age hill fort and this is walk 2 in the leaflet that can be downloaded below .

Otterburn Mill is a great stop, not only is it a former textile mill which boasts a rich heritage but you will also find a shop with a great range of outdoor and country clothing as well as textiles and tweeds. A small museum tells the story of the weaving trade that used to thrive here and the lovely cafe serves hearty lunches as well as light bites and some divine looking fresh cream cakes!

The car park at Otterburn Mill is a also a start and finish point for some of the walks that take you through the stunning surrounding countryside of the Rede Valley with plenty fauna to enjoy and you may even be lucky enough to spot an otter or two. You can download the self-guided walk leaflet here or you will find a copy in the cottage when you stay with us.

Northumberland is home to so many gorgeous little villages who can sometimes be overlooked by the larger towns and visitor attractions, but these villages often hold the key to a wealth of history and reveal some of the totally unspoilt beauty of Northumberland. Make sure you put some of them on your ‘must visit’ list.