Other Routes In Redesdale
The above discussion emphasises that Dere Street was not the only important route in the area during the medieval era. The other significant trackways are outlined below.
The valley road, mentioned above, ran from Elson to Otterburn and then followed the river right up to the head of the dale. It crossed the border at the watershed of the Rede, known as Redeswire (the equivalent of the modern Carter Bar crossing). The route was notable for the number of times it forded the Rede (cf. Hodgson 1827, 161). It was doubtless the Elsdon road which was followed by the Scottish army of Earl Douglas and the pursuing force of Henry Percy in 1388, after they decamped from Newcastle in the run-up to the battle of Otterburn.
Like Gamelspath, the Redeswire border crossing figures prominently in the warfare of the 15th and 16th centuries and was one of the designated meeting places between the wardens of the English and Scottish Middle Marches. In 1575 one of these meetings at Redeswire degenerated into a bloody skirmish, the Redeswire Fray. This meeting had initially been scheduled for "Kemelspeth", but was subsequently rearranged for the convenience of the Scottish deputy keeper of Liddelsdale (Hodgson 1827, 155-162 with full sources). An earlier battle is recorded at Redeswire in 1400, when Sir Robert Umfraville routed a Scottish force there.
Another trackway diverged from Dere Street proper near Featherwood, at the head of Sills Burn, and continued south-eastwards along the moorland watershed of the Rede and the Coquet systems to provide more a direct link between Elsdon and the Gamelspath border crossing. Like the route beside the Rede this moorland track may have a long history. It has even been suggested that the Elsdon-Gamelspath route was derived from a prehistoric ridge-way (Charlton and Day 1976, 229).