Before your walk

Is the Walk suitable for you? Check the Walk Grade descriptions below and choose one suitable for everyone who is going.

For our Self-Guided Walks, it is important for you to choose a walk suitable for everyone who is going. Think about options if the weather worsens. Don’t be over ambitious! Allow one hour for every 2.5 miles (4km) and add one hour for every 1,500 ft (500m) of ascent, with extra time for stops for rest and food.

Know how to use a map and compass. GPS or mobile phones aren’t enough as they can be lost or run out of power. Check out the weather forecast. Remember that fell top conditions can be far more severe than in the valleys.

Leave clear details of your intended route and estimated time of return. Know basic first aid and how to call for help in an emergency.

For our Guided Walks, our volunteers will guide you along the route and assess weather conditions and any other factors which could affect the Walk.

Walk Grades

Our Walks are Graded as Easy, Moderate, and Strenuous and we have provided further explanation for each.


Walks on Good paths which are suitable for all.

Easy 1: Walks on good paths. Distance under 3 miles.

Easy 2: Walks on good paths, some ups and downs. Distance under 5 miles.



Walks for people with Country Walking experience and a good level of fitness. May include some steep paths and open country.

Moderate 3: Walks mostly on good paths with gentle gradients. Distance under 5 miles.

Moderate 4: Mix of good and mores challenging paths. Undulating with some care needed. Distance under 8 miles.

Moderate 5: Mix of good and mores challenging paths. Undulating with some care needed. Distance under 12 miles.

Moderate 6: Walks with some rougher terrain and some significant climbs. Distance under 8 miles.


Walks for experience walkers with an above average level of fitness. Walks may involve some steep climbs and can be full days in the hills in open and sometimes rough country.

Strenuous 7: Walks with some rough terrain and some significant climbs. Distance under 12 miles.

Strenuous 8: Walks with stiff climbs and some rough terrain in remote areas. Distance under 8 miles.

Strenuous 9: Longer walks with some stiff climbs and rough terrain in remote areas. Distance up to 12 miles.

Strenuous 10: Our most challenging walks.

Walking Checklist

Find out what you need with you to help you stay safe in the National Park.


  • Comfortable clothing/layers
  • Waterproof/windproof outer jacket
  • Boots with good sole pattern – trainers aren’t suitable as they can slip and don’t support your ankle
  • Hat and gloves
  • Spare warm clothing

When you’re resting, you may need more layers than when you’re on the move. Several thin layers give good insulation and can be adjusted for different terrain and weather conditions.


  • Comfortable daysack
  • Food and water and a warm drink
  • Some extra energy-giving food and emergency rations
  • Large polybag or survival bag
  • Whistle and torch
  • First aid kit
  • Map and compass

Plus in Winter

  • Winter weight boots, a torch and extra warm clothing.
  • Know and plan for the number of daylight hours.
  • Check sunset times.
  • Know the length of the walk.
  • If walking at high altitudes: know how to use your ice axe and crampons
  • Avoid gullies after fresh snow

Delays to your walk

If you’re delayed but it isn’t an emergency, for example, you’ve descended into the wrong valley, inform your base or the police as quickly as possible so Mountain Rescue is not called out unnecessarily.

Mountain Rescue vehicle

Reporting emergencies

If in an unfortunate event you need to report an emergency, please follow these steps to ensure your call is answered.

  • Give any casualty first aid, make sure their breathing is unobstructed; dress wounds to prevent bleeding; keep them warm, sheltered and safe from further injury. Also remember to protect yourself
  • Send for help by calling 999 and ask for Police.
  • Tell the Police operator that you need Mountain Rescue.
  • Tell them where you are (Grid Reference if possible) and the nature of the incident.
  • Give them a contact phone number.
  • If an ambulance is needed the Police or the Rescue Team will ensure one comes. You do not need to ask for the Ambulance Service as well.
  • Stay by the phone or in the place where you can receive a signal on your mobile.
  • A Rescue Controller will call you back at the number you have given.
  • They will take further details and mobilise the Team. They will be with you as quickly as possible.
  • The emergency signal is six blasts on the whistle or six flashes with the torch.

Mountain Rescue Volunteers

The Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team is made up by unpaid volunteers. Any callout means they have to leave their jobs or homes. They are funded by donations from the public. The team carry out search and rescues in remote and urban places throughout the Northumbria Police Force area. Its members provide an important life saving service 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

Voluntary wardens of the National Park formed this Mountain Rescue Team in the early 1960s. It was set up after two shepherds returning from market died during a snowstorm in the Cheviot Hills. Find out more on the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team Facebook Page.