Northumberland is a special place to walk in, as it literally has every type of walking you can imagine. Local tour guide and walking enthusiast Jon Monks outlines what's on offer.
Another reason this northernmost English county is such a great place for walkers is that it is the most sparsely populated county in the land: on a ramble through the hills you may not see another person all day. It is often called the land of far horizons - until you visit the area it is hard to understand why, but with its big skies (recently classified as the largest dark sky reserve in Europe), this just brings home what a special place it is to explore on foot.
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Jon Monks set up Shepherds Walks in 1999. He began writing walking guides ‘from a Shepherd’s Perspective’ and selling them online.
Since then the business has grown into the largest walking provider in Northeast England, with well over 3,500 people enjoying Shepherds Walks guided walks, training courses, walking festivals, challenge walks and walking holidays each...
If you only do one walk in the Cheviots, this is the one. Windy Gyle is right on the border with Scotland (the main ridge is just over the border, in fact, but we do like to claim it as one of ours!) It makes a fabulous walk in from either side of the border.
The Northumberland Coastal path is one of the most enjoyable coastlines to walk in the country, but don’t stop at Berwick-upon-Tweed as 95% of the people do. Continue a few miles north into Scotland to St Abbs.
The Cheviot is not the best summit in Northumberland, but as it is the highest it has to be on any walkers ‘to do’ list. The summit is actually flat and the triangulation point has been raised up so you can find it on the plateau.
Just south of The Cheviots, within Northumberland National Park, are the Simonside Hills. Being a sandstone range, the craggy landscape is quite different from the Cheviots with their volcanic geology.
No visit to Northumberland would be complete without a walk along Hadrian’s Wall, and there's no better section to explore than that which lies east of Steel Rigg – high in the hills along the central stretch of Wall.
Best times to go:
There are some great walking events taking place throughout the year in Northumberland:
• Berwick Walking Festival – The first Walking Festival in the region takes place in April and makes for a great location to explore north Northumberland. With its walled town Berwick is worth a visit in its own right, but what better way than to tie it in with the Berwick Walking Festival.
• Rothbury Walking Festival – Every June the Rothbury and Coquetdale midsummer Walking Festival (to give it its full title) takes place. I personally believe Rothbury is one of the best bases for walkers when visiting Northumberland, so to attend a Walking Festival here is an experience second to none.
.• St Cuthbert’s Way Challenge Walk – For those of you wanting something a little more challenging the St Cuthbert’s Way Challenge Walk takes place in August every year. After checking in at Wooler the walkers get bussed to Morebattle in the Scottish Borders, then they pass back over the border and through the Cheviot Hills as they follow the St Cuthbert’s way back to Wooler. Just under 20 miles but worth every mile.
As much of Northumberland is so remote (especially The Cheviot Hills), go prepared. You will not come across shops and pubs as you do in other parts of the country so take equipment for all weathers and take food and liquids with you for your days walking. Plan ahead
The midges at Kielder between June and August are not the greatest experience, but during the shoulder months you will think they have never been there. Do not exclude Kielder from your visit, but just be aware of the midges over summer.
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