An ideal introduction to the Otterburn Ranges

This easy to follow circular route starts out at Girsonfield and passes through Elsdon and High Carrick.

It is an ideal introduction to the Otterburn Ranges and is suitable for most competent riders with horses of average fitness. Much of the route follows

Much of the route follows roads, but most sections have grass verges suitable to ride on.

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Ride description

A step-by-step guide to the route.

Girsonfield to Elsdon

Go through the double gate opposite the house into the field. Follow the clear track as it bears left, following the line of the wall. There are likely to be horses in this field so ride quietly and carefully. Go through the gate and continue on the faint path of the bridleway as it crosses the rough grassland – in some places the route is more distinct than others. This ground is drained by a series of ditches or ‘grips’. These are mostly self evident but take care in crossing them.The vegetation is also rough so allow your horse plenty of time to adjust to the terrain.

Cross the Girsonfield Burn and climb uphill on the other side, keeping to the clear track across the hillside. Pass the remains of a walled enclosure on your left and head for the gate alongside the military sign you can see ahead of you. The ground is drier and not as rough on this section so is suitable for a trot or canter but continue to watch for uneven ground and holes!

The fence marks the boundary of the Otterburn Ranges – from this point you are on the byelawed area of the Range. Go through the gate and continue on the bridleway, noting the sheep stell in the dip to your right. Sheep stells are traditional dry stone wall features which abound in the Northumbrian landscape.They provide shelter and holding areas for sheep on the remote hills.

Cross the sleeper bridge over the large ditch, and continue until you reach a gate into a hardstanding – which is one of a number of gun spurs developed as part of a major infrastructure improvement project on the Range. Cross the gun spur and bear left on the stone track.

Turn right onto the road and follow the road past the junction and through the gate. Continue as the road heads down towards Elsdon, meeting the main road at Elsdon Gate. Although this is a fairly long road stretch, there is plenty of space alongside the road to ride on the rough grassland and grass verges, which have been cleared of military material. At Elsdon Gate, turn left onto the main road but be aware that this can be quite busy with large vehicles. Follow the road down into Elsdon village.

Elsdon to High Carrick

Pass the ‘Bird in Bush’ pub on your right and continue on the road past the village green on the right and the church to the left. Cross the bridge and the car park and follow the road past the village hall and behind the Mote Hills. The Mote Hills are the impressive earthworks remaining from a Norman Castle.

Continue up the road to the house and head through the gate directly ahead of you,  then through the next one into the field. This road is the access to the house and is narrow with no verge towards the top so take care and listen carefully for vehicles approaching. Head half-right up the field to the two gates side by side ahead of you. Take the lefthand gate and follow the hollow-way, with the fence to your right, riding along the edge of the field.

Before reaching the gate onto the road, turn half left to ride across the field diagonally  to the gate in the wall. These fields may be a good place for a trot or canter but please ride quietly amongst livestock. Go through the gate and follow the field boundary, past the sheep pens on your left, until you reach the road.Turn right onto the road – take care as this road can be busy with large vehicles – and follow this until you reach a road junction on the left. Turn left onto the road, signed for High Carrick, and follow this as it drops downhill, through the gate, and uphill past the road to Laingshill.

At the junction, turn left and through the gate to pass High Carrick farm on your left.  From the main road you are back within the Otterburn Ranges boundary so may be likely to encounter military vehicles.

High Carrick to Girsonfield

Continue downhill past Wainfordrigg Farm on the right and through the gate. Follow the road uphill to the junction.Turn right at the junction and follow the road back to Leighton Hide, turning left to cross the gun spur and return to Girsonfield and your vehicle by the same route you came out on, taking care on the approach to the burn crossing.

Riding Route

Distance: 10.5 miles (17km)
Time: 4 hours
Grade: Moderate
Terrain: Bridleways and roads, grass moorland, rough pasture
Gates: 23
Ford crossings: 1 small burn, 1 sleeper bridge and 1 large bridge
Map: OS OL42 1:25000 Kielder Water