RAF100 Dunsdale to West Hill

Created as part of the RAF100 Celebrations, this walk encompasses three crash sites in the Cheviot Hills.

We advise to follow this route using Viewranger to learn more about the aircraft which crashed in the Cheviot Hills during the Second World War.

Starting Point: The junction to Dunsdale cottage in the College Valley.

Grade: Strenuous
Distance: 4.64 miles / 7.5 km
Time: 3 hours
Map: O.S. Explorer OL16 The Cheviot Hills

Walk Route

Route description

for RAF100 Dunsdale to West Hill

1. Start

Starting from the lovely scenic valley in which Dunsdale sits, the walks sets off from opposite Dunsdale cottage and follows the peat track up the hill.

2. Approximately ¾mile from the start...

Approximately ¾mile from the start look at land features/marker posts/rocks to the left of the track near a crag-rock pile on a level area.  In the distance over the top is a quad bike path, and just over the crag-rock pile you will find an air crash marker post.

3. Air Crash Site One

The air crash site on the ascent up Bellyside Hill marks the SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE MkIIb P8587 which crashed there on 25th March 1943 killing its pilot Flight Sergeant Eric Lindsay Brown RAAF, aged 24 years.

From here retrace your steps back to the track and carry on up as high as possible on Bellyside Hill, then head cross country to Bellyside Crag.

4. From Bellyside Crag...

From Bellyside Crag there is a sheep track which takes you towards the top of the Bizzle Burn and West Hill.

4. Crash Site Two

West Hill marks the most historical and famous crash site which the majority of people are aware of.

This is the site of the B17G FLYING FORTRESS 44-6504 which crashed on 16th December 1944 killing two of its crew but seven survived thanks to the skill and bravery of the shepherds of the College Valley and Sheila the dog. The shepherds Mr John Dagg and Mr Frank Moscrop went to rescue the crew after hearing the crash and their valiant efforts earned them the British Empire Medal each and Sheila the dog was the first civilian dog to receive the Dickin medal (the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross).

From here continue downhill past Braydon Crag to the next site.

6. Crash Site Three

This is the crash site of the Z1078 VICKERS WELLINGTON, which crashed here on 15th January 1942 in the shingle area near rocks on the north face of the hill, some 300m uphill in line with fence posts.  Few remains are evident however debris is around site.


7. From here continue downhill

From here continue downhill through the gate and follow the fenceline down to Dunsdale. Turn right onto the track, pass Dunsdale cottage and back to the start.

Important information

relating to this route

Please read prior to your walk

Please follow the Countryside Code.

• Check the weather forecast before you leave and don’t be afraid to turn back

• Guard against all risks of fire, especially in forest areas. Do not light any fires and please ensure that all matches are well extinguished before dropping them.

• Don’t damage or remove rocks, plants or trees – they are homes and food for insects, birds and animals.

• Litter can be dangerous to wildlife and farm animals – take rubbish home with you
Keep your dog under close control, especially near stock

• Consider others – drive carefully on country lanes and give way to walkers when you’re on a bike.

• Please leave all property and gates as you find them

Please be aware Cheviot is a sensitive area for ground nesting birds including Golden Plover and Dunlin as well as Red Grouse so ideally avoid the breeding season (April-Aug). Dogs should be kept on leads during the bird breeding season. The College Valley Estate have walked up grouse shooting days in September on Cheviot so the best time to complete the walk is in October.

As part of the management of the SSSI moorland prescribed burning of the dry heath habitat takes place in agreement with Natural England so you may see estate staff undertaking small fires during the legal burning season between mid Oct and mid-April. If anyone sees a fire outside these dates or an unattended fire during the Burning Season it may be a wildfire and the Fire & Rescue Service should be notified giving a grid reference and as much detail as possible.

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.

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 Trowupburn 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 from the College Valley Estate.

If you are traveling further up the valley, park on the grass at the junction to Dunsdale cottage.