Walking in Northumberland
Northumberland is a paradise for those walkers who seek unspoilt and untamed landsacape, space, solitude and that exhilarating sense of freedom that dramatic hill country can provide. Northumberland National Park and the Cheviot Hills provide spectacular scenery with vast straw coloured areas of open wilderness moorland and opportunities to see great wildlife including redshank and golden plover. Stretching from the north of the county down the western side to the South Tyne valley the Park offers a range of scenic facets and walking possibilities. Of particular interest are the Breamish Valley, the beautiful Coquetdale and the Simonside Hills south of Rothbury which offer splendid views over much of Northumberland. On the west side of the National Park Kielder Forest Park offers quiet dark pine woods and the blue expanse of Kielder Water.
Crossing the county from the western border just south of the National Park to Newcastle Upon Tyne in the east is Hadrian's Wall, northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire. Here the more gently undulating landscape retains the impression of space and walking the wall with nothing but the sound of the wind and the cries of the Curlew is an enjoyable experience. It's a facinating one too, exploring the Roman forts and milecastles and marvelling at the scale of this civil engineering project and picturing the lives of the legionaires who were stationed along it.
South of Hadrian's Wall the land rises once more into the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is an area not to be missed, once again with remote moorland, but tempered with contrasting attractive villages such as Allendale and Blanchland near the Derwent Reservoir. This stunning area continues southwards into County Durham and the upper Tees.
Much of Northumberland's coast from Berwick-upon-Tweed south to Alnmouth is an Area of outstanding Natural Beauty and a walk along part of this coast is yet another 'A' list project. The cliffs and beaches are superb and have the added advantage of being relatively free of people. The bracing climate and particularly the very common sea mist make the beaches unattractive to sun worshippers and so there has been little demand to develop the coast. This in turn, has ensured that wildlife has remained and walkers will be impressed with the variety of sea birds including terns, comorants, fulmars, kittywakes and many others. There are also two of Northumberland's many castles stunningly sited on the coast, Bamburgh and the ruined Dunstanburgh (NT), near Craster.
Blanchland - Blanchland is a delightful stone built model village on the banks of the River Derwent clustered around the church and nestled within woodland and moors. The name is derived from the white robes of the monks of the Premonstratensian Abbey, which was founded here in 1175 and dissolved in 1539. The village layout is based on a monastic plan and the church comprises the former chancel, crossing and north transept of the abbey church.
OS Maps: Explorer 307
A Walk from Blanchland [NY 965505]
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