Hill views and tranquillity

A delightful walk taking in hill views and the tranquillity of the River North Tyne valley, starting in the quaint village of Falstone.

Download the Falstone and Donkleywood Walk.

Grade: Moderate
Distance: 7 miles (12km)
Time: 3 hours
Map: OS OL42 1:25000 Kielder Water

Walk route

For the Falstone and Donkleywood Walk.

Route description

Directions for your walk

A. From the Blackcock Inn walk uphill

Facing the Blackcock Inn, turn left and walk uphill and under the old railway bridge. Turn right up the hill. Pass the old Falstone railway station, now holiday accommodation. Continue on up the road for about a mile to the top of the hill.

B. Turn left along the track

At the row of pines, turn left along the track, signposted Border Forest Ride. Go through the gate and continue along the metalled road, with expansive views of the North Tyne River valley. On the right of the road is a Northumberland National Park native species plantation commemorating 40 years of Northumberland National Park (1996). Also look out for the currock, or pile of standing stones on the skyline to your left.

C. Continue along the rutted track to Slaty Ford

After passing the remote farmstead of Rye Close, the tarmac surface changes to grass. Continue along the rutted track for 1/2 mile to Slaty Ford. Look out for red squirrel in the nearby woods.

D. Drop down to Slaty Ford

Drop down to Slaty Ford. Here the old road crosses the Thorney Burn. Slaty Ford makes an ideal picnic spot, but do not cross the ford. Take the marked bridleway to the right, just before the gate indicated Hill House keeping the Thorney Burn on your left.

E. Follow the way markers to Hill House

Follow the waymarkers across rough pasture, keep an earth bank and then a stock-proof wire fence to your right, cross the head of a deep clough on your left. A clough is a cleft in a hillside or deep river valley. Keeping the clough of The Deep Sike burn on your left, reach Hill House via a series of bridleway gates. Take care the bankside is steep in places.

F. Head diagonally downhill

Go in front of Hill House and through a waymarked gate. Head diagonally downhill, following the waymarker on the gate, keeping the Thorney Burn gorge on your left, and a small pond surrounded by trees to the right.

G. At the road turn right past Old Hall Farm

The disused railway line is crossed, via a field gate and then a small gate to reach a tarmac road. At the road turn right, walking past Old Hall Farm.

H. Take the footpath to Donkleywood

After 400 yards, at a bend in the road, take the footpath to ‘Donkleywood 11/4 miles’. Cross the bridge and go directly up the opposite bank to a stile over a fence. Follow the waymarker diagonally over the field, and through a field gate in the corner, then through a gate on th right and into a small plantation. Bear left downhill towards the river, keep the fence line on the right follow it to a stile by a field gate.

I. Follow the waymarkers to Camp Cottage

Follow the waymarkers across pasture land, aiming to the left of a clump of trees on the brow of the hill, until Camp Cottage is reached, and where the remains of an old Bastle can be seen. Pass in front of Camp Cottage, and with the fence line on your right go over a new stile into the new plantation, and keeping the fence to the right, exit the plantation through a gate.

J. Turn right and follow the deer proof fence

Now, with the river North Tyne in sight, turn right and follow the deer proof fence to go through ancient oak woodland.

K. Drop back down the hill along the road to Falstone

Emerging from the woodland, go over the stile, and follow the waymarker indicating the way over rough ground to Donkleywood, which is reached via a remarkably constructed, and well preserved stone bridge over the old railway line. On reaching Donkleywood, turn left and follow the road uphill to the pines, then drop back down the hill along the road to Falstone, and welcome refreshments.

Getting There


From Bellingham turn left and follow the tourism signs for Kielder Water and Forest. Just before Kielder reservoir turn right into Falstone.

Public Transport

A bus service from Hexham via Bellingham runs every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday all year round. The 880 route features two buses from Hexham to Kielder Castle and two return services. Each Sunday and on bank holidays the 714 bus service is available from the Metro Centre and Newcastle via Otterburn and Bellingham to Kielder. Contact Traveline on 08712 002233 for further details.