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.

Sinkside

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.

Getting there

From the South:
Leave the A1 for the A697 north of Morpeth, signed for Coldstream. Stay on the road until a couple of miles north of Wooler; at Akeld buildings there is a left turn signposted to Kirknewton and Yetholm. Turn left and follow the road for three miles. Go through Kirknewton and over the little bridge, just after the bridge there are some cottages on the left. At the end of the cottages turn left, signposted to Hethpool.

 

From the North:
Take the A697 south from the A68. Cross the bridge into England at Coldstream and through Cornhill and Crookham. South of Crookham take the second right – soon after the left to Ford Castle – Go past Flodden and over a cross roads, pass several buildings on your left and at the bottom of a hill where the road swings round to the right turn left, which is actually going straight on. Cross the river and when you come to a T-junction turn left. Follow the road past Kilham until you come to a row of cottages on the right, immediately before the cottages turn right signposted Hethpool.

And then…

Follow the road, which turns left at 90 degrees at the end of the farm and again at the bottom of the hill leading into the valley where the road to Throwupburn and Elsdonburn goes off to the right. Soon after this you will pass a turn to your left – which is the drive to Hethpool House and a row of cottages on your right with a sharp right hand bend at the corner of them, this is Hethpool. Go straight on across the next cattle grid and the car park is on your left.

Please note: if you wish to drive further up the valley you will need a car permit.