A moderately challenging ride into the Cheviot Hills

Starting from Clennell Farm, near Alwinton, this horse ride route is a moderately challenging ride into the Cheviot Hills in the Upper Coquet Valley. Most of the route is off-road, offering good canter opportunities and many chances to admire the stunning scenery of Northumberland National Park. The roadwork sections are on quiet roads, although you will need to be prepared to meet large agricultural, forestry and military vehicles.

Most of the route is off-road, offering good canter opportunities and many chances to admire the stunning scenery of Northumberland National Park. The roadwork sections are on quiet roads, although you will need to be prepared to meet large agricultural, forestry and military vehicles.

The roadwork sections are on quiet roads, although you will need to be prepared to meet large agricultural, forestry and military vehicles.

Download the Copper Snout Horse Ride

Ride Description

A step-by-step guide to the Copper Snout horse ride.

Clennell to Wholehope

Ride up the stone track as it heads up the Alwin Valley towards Kidland Forest, keeping to the grass verges wherever possible.

Just before the edge of the forest, take the bridleway to the left and follow this steeply uphill. Continue along the narrow track across the hillside to a wicket gate. Cross the corner of the field to a second gate. Turn right onto Clennell Street and follow the clear track, until you reach the tin shed and remains of a building on the hilltop at Wholehope.

Clennell Street is an ancient droving route linking England and Scotland. It provided a well-used highway for the movement of
cattle and other goods, both legally and ill-gotten gains of the Border Reiver times. The droving trade was at its peak during the 17th and 18th Centuries, with many thousands of cattle being driven from pastures in Scotland to fairs and markets in England, at an average rate of 12 miles a day. Wholehope used to be a shepherd’s house, built around 1603 and was last occupied in 1942. It then became a Youth Hostel until 1960, when it was closed as a result of its remote location.

Wholehope to Shillmoor

After passing the remains of Wholehope Youth Hostel on your right, continue on the clear track until it joins the forestry road. Turn left onto this. Shortly after a gentle bend, take the clear track on the left hand side, leading into the trees. After a short distance, go through the gate alongside the cattle grid, then turn right and follow the track as it winds gently downhill.

Pass through the field gate and continue the descent towards Shillmoor Farm. This section of the route is included by kind permission of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) as part of a campaign to increase awareness of access opportunities on the Otterburn Ranges. As the track curves to the right to approach Shillmoor, drop down to the left onto the public bridleway, as it follows the wall and the River Coquet downstream.

You are likely to see a variety of wildlife on this ride. Birds includes buzzard, kestrel, heron, dipper, wagtail, wheatear, lapwing and curlew. You may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of shy mammals such as roe deer, red squirrel and foxes. This area also boasts ideal habitat for Britain’s only venomous snake, the adder. Adders will move away, generally before you even know they are there but you may catch a glimpse of one during hot weather. Ensure you allow them time to move out of your way.

Shillmoor to Clennell

Go through the wicket gate and cross the small burn, then follow the narrow track across the hillside. Be careful crossing the burn as the bank side is steep and stony. You may want to dismount and lead.

An alternative (marked in green) is to follow the farm track back to Shillmoor, then turn left onto the road, crossing the bridge, and follow the road as it leads back towards Alwinton. Take the farm track descending to the river to the right of the sheep stell and cross the river at the clear fording point. Then follow the track uphill until it rejoins the bridleway.

Follow the track steeply uphill on Pass Peth, another ancient drove road. Have a rest at the top, you may be able to make out the remains of Linbriggs medieval village on the haugh on the far side of the River Coquet. During Border Reiver times, men of Coquetdale used to keep a round-the-clock watch at the nick at the top of Pass Peth to give warning of raids. Follow the clear track as it descends to the Coquet Valley road. Go through the wicket gate and turn left to follow the road down to Alwinton village.

Pass through the village and bear right, over the bridge. Take the road on the left before the next road bridge, and follow the road back to Clennell and your vehicle. The name ‘Copper Snout’ is likely to have come from the green colour found in the rock, fragments of which may be visible on the track. The rock type is Andesite, an igneous rock laid down in volcanic lavas about 300 million years ago.

Riding Route

Distance: 11 miles (17.7km)
Time: 4 to 4 and a half hours
Grade: Strenuous
Terrain: off-road bridleways, stone and grassy tracks, tarmac roads
Gates: 18
Ford crossings: 3 small burns
Ascents/Descents: some steep ascents and descents
Map: OS OL16 1:25

Getting There

From Rothbury, take the B6341 travelling through Thropton.

At Flotterton Farm, take the right, signposted Harbottle and Alwinton. Follow this road up the valley, passing through Sharperton and Harbottle. Before reaching Alwinton, take the right signed Clennell Hall. Continue past Clennell Hall, crossing a cattle grid, follow the track as it skirts Clennell Farm and park considerately.

Parking has been agreed by kind  permission of Clennell Farm. Please take care not to block the roads or gateways as access is required at all times, and take all litter home with you.