The Best Walks in the Cheviots - Outdoors Magic

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The Best Walks in the Cheviots

Local expert Paul Mitchinson takes us on a grand hiking tour of the hills of north-east England

This is part of our series in collaboration with Komoot, the route planning app for runners, bikers, and long-distance hikers. To find you the best walks in the Cheviots, we reached out to a local expert on the area and had him plan his top five routes using Komoot. Paul Mitchinson is your guide for the Cheviots. He runs North East Guides, a dedicated group who provide a range outdoor adventure services all along the Anglo-Scottish boarder (and a bit below too). They run guided hikes, mountain skills courses, indoor climbing, and a wealth of other activities for anyone looking to explore England’s wildest corners. Take it away Paul.

The Best Walks in the Cheviots

  1. Harbottle Circular
  2. Windy Gyle and the Border Ridge
  3. Yeavering Bell and Humbleton Hill
  4. The Cheviot via the Hen Hole
  5. Wild Camp from Alwinton

Harbottle Circular

Distance: 4 miles / 6.5 km
Start/End: Forestry Commission Car Park, Harbottle

This is a fine, friendly half-day walk which also serves as a perfect introduction to the area. With a length of 9 kilometres and a gentle 500 ft elevation, it should take around three hours. Of course, feel free to spend some more time admiring the views as the route leads you up to the ancient Drake Stone, a striking landmark which sits atop the rolling grassy hills of Northumberland National Park.

The Drake Stone | Photo: North East Guides

If you’re a fan of historical points of interest, look out for the brick arches of a well-preserved lime kiln. Another highlight is Harbottle Lake, which would make for an excellent picnic venue (weather permitting!). You’ll pass the Star Inn before returning to the starting point at the forestry commission carpark – why not stop off and rehydrate with one of their delicious local ales?

Windy Gyle and the Border Ridge

Distance: 7 miles / 11 km
Start/End: Trows Bridge, River Coquet

This walk is a particular favourite of mine, it gives you a great taste of the wilder parts of the Cheviots. It takes around 4 hours for the basic walk, however it can easily be extended to visit Davidsons Linn waterfall, which adds an extra 7k and 2 hours. Starting off in a small parking area at Trows Bridge, you’ll walk up an old Drover’s road alongside the peaceful flowing Rowhope Burn river, eventually meeting the Pennine Way.

Photo: North East Guides

A somewhat challenging climb will bring you to the top of Windy Gyle, from which you’ll enjoy views of Scotland to the north and views of England to the south. The cairn at the summit – Russel’s Cairn – is right on the border, so feel free to impress your friends by taking a step and announcing that you’re in a different country. Once that gets boring, walk along the border ridge and swing back down through the grass-covered hills. With some luck, the local wild goats may put in an appearance, which is always a treat I’ll never get sick of.

Yeavering Bell and Humbleton Hill

Distance: 10 miles / 16 km
Start/End: Cheviot Centre, Wooler

Another favourite in the area, and not-too-strenuous! This 10-mile walk starts and finishes in the town of Wooler, which boasts numerous pubs and cafes as well as some great accommodation options for those traveling light, including Wooler YHA and Shepherds Huts. Starting out from the Cheviot Centre car park, the full route should take around 6 hours. Once you’ve ascended Yeavering Bell, you can take in the ancient ruins of the hillfort (dating back to the Iron Age!). Its short walls and crumbling stone perimeter holding hundreds of years of history.

On a clear day, views can stretch all the way to the sea. Once you’ve thoroughly enjoyed the sites, you’ll drop down from Yeavering Bell and join part of St. Cuthbert’s way, which is another opportunity for potential wild goat sightings. Just try not to scare them off by shouting with delight – they’re trying to eat lunch.

The Cheviot via the Hen Hole

Distance: 9.3 miles / 15 km
Start/End: Mounthooly, College Valley

For this walk you need a pass for the College Valley, which are available here:

This obscure valley is tucked between the hills toward the top of Northumbria National Park. You may well want to spend the night at Mounthooly Bunkhouse, the only accommodation choice for some distance (and also, surprisingly, where this walk starts). The route is manageable for anyone with sure footing and decent fitness, some steady ascents and not-too-technical scrambling are on offer, perhaps a great choice if you’re looking to try some rockier routes for the first time.

Photo: Nort East Guides
Photo: North East Guides

You’re going for the main event with this one, climbing the Cheviot, and I must say: for the highest hill in the area, it’s quite a flat lump once you make it up. The excitement mostly comes from the tracks on the way, they’re good fun (although of course the views are still beautiful). The College Valley is a lovely place, and has an RAF Memorial to the airmen who lost their lives during WW2, which is well worth a visit.

Two Day Wild Camp

Distance: 24 miles / 39 km
Start/End: Clennell Hall, Alwinton

This is a great two day walk circuit with a wild camp by a lovely waterfall called Davidson’s Linn. The length makes it perfect for a weekend adventure, however you do need to seek permission from the Forestry Commission before you pitch up a tent for the night. This isn’t difficult though. You can set off from the national park carpark in Alwinton, it’s a nice town but very small, so don’t rely on it for all your provisions. There are no massive ascents en route, however, it does undulate, so prepare to move with the flow of the land and wind through the valleys. It’s really more of a walk through the Cheviots than an exercise in scaling the hills.

Photo: North East Guides

At the start of the route is Clennell Hall. A happy (if humble) establishment where you can pitch up or stay in a room and grab some breakfast before setting off. Some have even been known to head out, do the wild camp, head back and end their evening here with a few pints and a warm place to kip.

Komoot: Your Route to Adventure

Komoot is an app that lets you find, plan, and share adventures with the easy route planner. Driven by a desire to explore, and powered by the outdoor community’s recommendations, it’s komoot’s mission to inspire great adventures making them accessible to all.

New to komoot? For a free regional bundle (worth £8.99) simply follow this link to and create your free account today.

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