One of the gems of Northumberland National Park

July 2019 – Please be aware that access is currently closed to Sinkside Hillfort in the College Valley due to ongoing forestry operations.

The College Valley is owned by the College Valley Estate.  This peaceful, unspoilt place is free to roam on foot or by bicycle.

Enjoy the rocky gorge of Hethpool Linn. In autumn, sea trout and salmon can be seen leaping up this burn on their way to spawning grounds upstream. Native woodlands provide shelter for roe deer, hares and wild goats. At any time of year, the dramatic change in light gives a different view.

History of the College Valley

People have lived here for at least 7,000 years. The earliest settlers were late Stone Age farmers. You can see the remains of one great stone circle just next to the National Park’s car park at Hethpool.

The early part of the Bronze Age was warmer than today, so crops could be grown quite high up. Some cultivation terraces and many burial cairns date back to this time.

From the Iron Age – about 2,800 years ago – people built timber roundhouses within a large timber fence. The remains of a very complex and well-preserved Romano-British settlement lie opposite Hethpool House.

Being so close to Scotland, the valley suffered during hostilities between English and Scottish armies from the 14th to 16th centuries. Raids by the Border Reivers took their toll.

Hillfort sites

In the College Valley you will find some amazing hillfort ruins built some 2,300 years ago.

Great Hetha

Many of the stones from the ramparts still lie where they fell, so it is easy to imagine the size of these massive walls.

Little Hetha

Here you can still see the footprints of Iron Age roundhouses.

Ring Chesters

With double earthen ramparts, it is one of the most stunning hillforts in the National Park.

North Blackhaggs

Inside the stone-built ramparts, you can see platforms for the timber-built roundhouses, plus the remains of two later stone-built roundhouses from Roman times.


The dry stone ramparts of this site are more complete than most. Here you can see one of the best preserved examples of Iron Age masonry.

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