A picturesque, family-friendly walk

Enjoy an easy to follow trail in Harwood Forest near the Simonside Hills, aimed at families, with plenty to look out for and do along the route.

This trail follows a route within the forestry of Simonside, which is part of the larger Harwood forest area. The site is owned and managed by the Forestry Commission for both recreation and commercial forestry interests. There are a variety of tree species in the forest, mostly coniferous which means they have needles, bear cones and do not lose their leaves in winter. However, there are some deciduous trees too, which do lose their leaves in winter,such as Silver Birch.

The Simonside hills are alive with remains from the past. Archaeological remains litter the hillside and many are hidden throughout the forest. At the second junction you come to on your outward walk, and the point where you begin to retrace your steps on your return, a heather covered clearing in the trees boasts a burial cairn in its centre. This cairn was excavated in the 1890s and the stones from the central area were banked around the edge, revealing two cists, or chambers, beneath. These cists often contain evidence of cremations, and often pots, tools and other implements, and date back to the Bronze Age, about 6,000 years ago.

Download the PDF guide to Simonside Family Walk

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Walk overview

Walk difficulty
Walk distance
3 miles / 4.8km
Walk duration
1.5 hours
Recommended OS Map
O.S. Explorer OL42 Kielder Water & Forest
Dog friendly

Step by step route

Follow the track as it winds uphill

Follow the main forest track out of the car park, passing the sheltered information board and the wooden barrier, as it winds uphill through the trees.

This walk follows the red waymarkers. Start from the wooden information shelter near to the car park entrance. Turn left onto the forest road passing around the side of the wooden barrier. Follow the forest road uphill. At the junction, keep following the red route waymarker to the right.

At the next junction, turn right

At the next junction turn right, a tall mast is on your right. Keep following the forest road.

Bear right at the next junction.

Bear right at the next junction. Continue on the track as it meanders downhill towards the edge of the forest. As you reach the edge of the trees, there are expansive views over the Coquet Valley towards the Cheviot Hills, including Cheviot itself, the highest hill in Northumberland and the National Park.

Take the footpath leading back into the trees

A short distance down the forest track take the footpath leading back into the trees to the left. Follow this uphill, climbing up through the trees. Shortly after the path stops climbing you join a forest track.

Turn left along the forest track

Turn left along the forest track and follow this until you reach the corner of the deer fence. Just beyond the corner of the fence turn right along the well-worn path for Little Church Rock and follow this to the rock outcrop. Once you have finished exploring return by the same route.

On re-joining the forest track turn right

On re-joining the forest track turn right. Follow the track, past the point where you left it before, and retrace your steps back to the mast.

At the mast you have a choice

At the mast you have a choice. For a shorter alternative, continue back down the track towards the car park. Take the path leading off to the right and follow this back to the car park, turning left before the footbridge.

Otherwise, turn right and follow the track

Continue along the track until you reach a point where a footpath leaves it on the left-hand side. Follow this path as it descends through the trees and back to the car park.

Be careful as this path is rough in places with exposed rocks and tree roots which be slippery!

Walk route

Getting there

The starting point for the walk is Simonside Forestry Commission Car Park.

From Rothbury take the B6342 heading south over the river. Follow this for 3 miles, and take a sharp right turn signposted Lordenshaws. The Car Park is a further 2 miles on the left.

Grid Ref: NZ 037 997

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