Start from Northumberland National Park car park at Hareshaw Linn, in Bellingham. This area was once the site of an ironworks in the mid-1800s.
On your right is the stone terrace of ‘Foundry Farm’ that once housed the offices of the foundry managers. As you pass the farmhouse look opposite the sheds for the bubbling water of the ‘well’, a spring that appeared while people were drilling for coal. Following the footpath, you climb up mounds made from the spoil of 70 ovens that once supplied coke to the ironworks.
Walk through the gate, you will see an old dam on your left. Continue along the path to an open area overlooking a small waterfall. The hummocky ground is the spoil from an old quarry, which produced stone used for building the miner’s houses.
Climb up the steps. On your right is one of the blocked up mine entrances. Walk through the kissing gate and into the ‘Linn’ proper. This is an ancient woodland with oak, hazel, elm and ash.
Carry on up the hill past a curved stone seat. Walk over the first bridge to ‘Cupid’s Bower’ seat overlooking the waterfall. Continue on over the second bridge, on the left are the entrances to two old mine shafts.
Carry on over the third and fourth bridges, where you will see tall Douglas firs planted by the Victorians. Walk over the fifth and finally the sixth bridge. This is where the Victorians built a ‘bandstand’ for picnics, music and storytelling.
Wander on to the waterfall, but take care. The depth and dampness give the feel of an ancient rainforest – ideal conditions for the 300 species of mosses, liverworts and lichens.
Return the way you came.