The Cheviot Hills, Northumberland National Park\n© Simon Fraser

Rothbury and Coquetdale

  • Cheviot Hills. All pictures by Simon Fraser. Cheviot Hills. All pictures by Simon Fraser.

Pictures by Simon Fraser

The Coquet Valley is beautiful and inspiring all year round, with a variety of features to visit from source to sea. Much of its upper reaches flow through Northumberland National Park.

At Barrowburn in Upper Coquetdale, some of the very best ancient hay meadows can be seen from nearby footpaths, or the garden of the farm tea room that is open in season. Old drove roads such as Clennell Street provide a car-free green highway through the Cheviot Hills up to the breathtaking Border Ridge and back for a good meal at the Rose and Thistle pub at Alwinton. In the secret valleys from side to side are the remains of old whisky stills from the days of the illicit trade by colourful characters such as Black Rory.

Downstream, children love to climb up to the ruins of the once-vital royal stronghold of Harbottle Castle, or on the opposite side of the valley to the great glacial Drakestone – both spectacular viewpoints above the village where refreshments are available at The Star pub and village shop.

Further down the valley, a stroll through Holystone reveals the tranquil Lady's Well dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the 17th Century Woodhouses Bastle alongside the fine country house on a loop in the river. Holystone common forest is an intoxicating walk during the heather blaze.

Eastwards is the distinctive profile of Simonside – the great sandstone ridge and Special Area of Conservation that offers another memorable walk through 10,000 years of visible history with 3600 views from coast to hills. Below nestles the picturesque traditional market town of Rothbury with its pubs, cafes, shops and galleries and a traditional welcome in its pleasant guesthouses.

Annual events to look out for:

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