November 14, 2023
Destination: The North
Best Northumberland Walks
Northumberland is one of the most wild and beautiful parts of the UK. Bordering Scotland to the north and the sea to the east, there are so many activities and adventures to be had, whether you’re after a scenic walk, a family cycle, a visit to a quaint town, or even a spot of water sports.
If you enjoy remote, peaceful walks, the Northumberland National Park is the place to be. Home to sites such as Hadrian’s Wall, breathtaking rugged landscapes, and around 640 square miles of walking, running, and cycling trails, it’s hard to believe it’s actually one of the least visited National Parks in the UK.
So grab your walking boots and let’s explore the best walks in Northumberland.
The Simonside Hills are on the edge of Harwood Forest, created from deposits from the river delta, over 330 million years ago.
From the top of the distinctive ridgeline, you can enjoy breathtaking views across the Cheviot Hills, North Sea coastline, and – at the right time of year – stunning heather moorland.
This circular walk starts with a gentle uphill climb from the car park, leading to the open moorland, where you’ll be greeted with your first glimpse of the Crags. There’s just over 300m of elevation on this route, so a good level of fitness is required.
Distance: 7.4 miles (11.95km)
Craster to Low Newton Coastal Walk
If you love being by the sea, this circular walking route follows the coastline from Craster to Low Newton by-the-Sea, passing Dunstanburgh Castle, then returns slightly inland to Craster. National Trust members can visit the castle for free, otherwise, there’s a small admission fee (Nationaltrust.org.uk).
Both of the towns have a strong fishing heritage, with quaint cottages from the 19th century. Enjoy wildlife, historic ruins, and the sound of the ocean lapping at the shore as you stomp along the coast.
Distance: 7.7 miles (12.32 km)
Souter Lighthouse Trail
Souter Lighthouse, on the Sunderland seafront, is a very popular attraction for families, thanks to its bookshop, cafe, and plenty of room to run around.
The lighthouse was opened in 1871 and remains an iconic beacon. To the north, is a 2.5-mile stretch of limestone cliffs, rocky bays, and coastal grassland, which makes for a lovely stroll.
This walk begins at the lighthouse and follows the coastal path along the seafront and towards the Whitburn Nature Reserve.
Distance: 1.6 miles (2.5 km)
The Sycamore Gap Walking Route
Made famous by Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, the Sycamore Gap is located near the Roman Milecastle 39, along the 73-mile (117.5 km) long wall.
Depending on how far you want to walk, there are plenty of routes to choose from. This 2.5-mile route is great for the whole family. There’s a steep climb towards Steel Rigg before making your way down to the ‘Gap’.
To extend the walk, follow the trail a little further or return on the parallel path, which will bring you back to the pub (Twicebrewedinn.co.uk) for some refreshments.
Please note: The beautiful Sycamore tree, which once sat in the ‘gap’, was sadly destroyed in September 2023. Please check the area is open to visitors before planning your walk.
Distance: 2.5 miles (4.1km)
Hareshaw Linn Waterfall Walk
This is an out-and-back, linear walk through the beautiful woodlands – home to more than 300 different types of mosses, liverworts, and lichen – and to the magical Hareshaw Linn Waterfall.
The walk follows a rocky path, which can become very slippery when wet, and includes a few undulating climbs and footbridges, before reaching the waterfall. It’s a short walk, but wet conditions can make it a little testing underfoot.
Distance: 3 miles (4.7 km)
The Upper Coquetdale route, in the grassy Cheviot Hills, is steeped in history. As you follow the River Coquet, meandering through the moorland and hay meadows, you’ll be entering the country of the infamous Scottish outlaw, Rob Roy.
A quick detour to Wholehope Burn will take you to the remains of an illicit 18th-century whiskey still.
Distance: 8.4 miles (13.62 km)
Bolam Lake Country Park
Bolam Lake Country Park is home to some of Northumberland’s best walking, with a variety of trails to hike.
Whether you want a short amble around the lake or a longer route taking in the surrounding woodlands and farmland, there’s something for everyone.
Distance: 1.4 miles (2.3 km)
Route: Short, Alltrails.com/bolam-lake-and-west-wood-circular.
Route: Long, Alltrails.com/bolam-lake-and-shaftoe-crags-circular.
Warkworth Castle Loop
Just above the River Coquet is the impressive Warkworth Castle. Built in the 12th century, but still largely intact, the castle is an English Heritage site which you can pay around £8.50 to visit (English-heritage.org.uk).
There are also a variety of walks you can do around the castle grounds.
Take on this 2.1-mile loop, which begins at the castle and then continues to a 14th-century hermitage, carved out of the bedrock of the River Coquet. It crosses a beautiful stone footpath and medieval bridge, before finishing once again at the castle.
Distance: 2.1 miles (3.5km)
Planning a walking holiday in the North of England? Check out our guided tours of Northumberland and Hadrian’s Wall.
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