One of many trackways in the border hills

Our Alwinton and the River Alwin route is a favourite route with walkers, starting in Alwinton, that used to be one of many trackways in the border hills frequented in times past by cattle drovers, shepherds, pedlars and whiskey smugglers.

Clennell Street is one of many Drove Roads in the Cheviot Hills which connected the market towns of Morpeth to Kelso across the border in Scotland. Clennell Street was used by cattle drovers and shepherds, pedlars and whisky smugglers. The remote tributary valleys of the Upper Coquet were used to distill illicit whisky during the 1800s.

Smugglers like Black Rory made their own whisky and sold it illegally at the remote farms up the valley. Excise-men would patrol the hills, stopping and searching carts and travellers for contraband liquor.

The ancient hillforts of Castle Hills and Camp Knowe look as if they stand guard over Alwinton and the entrance to Clennell Street.

Download the PDF guide to Alwinton and the River Alwin Walk

Download Route

Walk overview

Walk difficulty
Walk distance
5 miles / 8km
Walk duration
3 hours
Recommended OS Map
O.S. Explorer OL16
Dog friendly

Step by step route


From the car park turn left along the road heading into Alwinton. At the T-junction cross the village green, and cross over the footbridge. Turn left onto a narrow tarmac road signed ‘Clennell Street/Border Ridge’.

Follow the road until the tarmac ends

Follow the road until the tarmac ends, then keep on the track as it heads uphill. Ignore the gate and stile to the right, continue on up the farm track.

Cross over the ladder stile

Cross over the ladder stile and follow the track, skirting around the right of Castle Hills, an ancient Iron Age settlement.

As the main track (Clennell Street) winds round to the left...

As the main track (Clennell Street) winds round to the left near the top of the hill, take right at the junction to a wicket gate, approx 50 metres away. Go through the gate and bear left across the field to the next gate. Go through this gate and follow the well worn path to the right along the hillside.

Continue on this path

Continue on this path passing a stone sheepfold down to your right. At a junction of many tracks, head downhill towards the forest corner.

On reaching the bottom of the hill...

On reaching the bottom of the hill, go through the gate onto the pink gravel forest road and turn right. Keep following the road, crossing the River Alwin three times, until you reach a crossroads.

At the crossroads...

At the crossroads, follow the track round to the right passing through the gate, keeping the dry stone wall to your left. Cross over the cattle grid and turn right over the footbridge.

Once over the footbridge

Once over the footbridge turn left up the path. Go over the stile then continue straight ahead to the stile at the opposite side of the field. Cross the stile and carry on along the edge of the field keeping the fence to your left.

Go over the stile

Go over the stile and turn left onto the farm track that you came up. Head back downhill to Alwinton and along the road back to the car park.

Walk route

Getting there

The starting point of the walk is Alwinton National Park Car Park.

From Rothbury take the B6381 west through Thropton. At ‘Flotterton’ take the right signed ‘Alwinton’. Go through Alwinton and the car park is on the right

Grid Ref: NT 919 063

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