Shepherds Cairn walk and memorial

The Shepherds Cairn is a memorial to two shepherds who lost their lives in the winter of 1962. They were found just half a mile from their remote home at Ewartly Shank. Follow our walk to the Shepherds Cairn in Northumberland National Park, a memorial to two shepherds who lost their lives in the winter of 1962.

Download the PDF guide to The Shepherds Cairn Walk

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Walk overview

Walk difficulty
Walk distance
6 miles / 9.6km
Walk duration
3.5 hours
The Cheviots
Recommended OS Map
O.S. Explorer OL16
Dog friendly

Step by step route

Set off along the road

Set off along the road, past the Church and former vicarage with its adjoining Pele Tower. Turn right before the cattle grid and follow the track signed Shank House and Low Bleakhope, beside the vicarage garden wall. Go through the gate and continue on up-hill keeping the wall on your left to another gate.

Continue through this gate

Continue through this gate, and carry on passing through another gate into a narrow fenced area, next to mixed woodland. Continue up-hill to the next gate in the fence ahead.

Follow the track to the top of the hill

Go through the gate and bear right, heading up-hill to reach the track on the skyline in approximately 200metres. Follow the track to the top of the hill, as the track bears right walk straight on along the sunken grassy track, descending gradually to the Coppath Burn. Keep to the track as it crosses the burn, go through the gate and bear left towards the field wall ahead. Make for the gate.

Cross the stile by the gate

Cross the stile by the gate, and continue along Salter’s Road (track) this can be wet in places. After passing the sheepfold on your right, continue on along this track for approximately 250m.

At the quad track crossroads (marked by a stone) turn left

At the quad track crossroads (marked by a stone) turn left, after approximately 120m the track splits again, follow the right-hand fork up onto High Knowes. Continue down the quad track to the Shepherds Cairn Memorial Stone (O.S. NT 967 127). After viewing the stone carry on down to the road.

For a shorter walk

For a shorter walk of 4.5miles / 7km – on reaching the road turn left and follow it back to Alnham.

For a longer walk

For a longer walk (6 miles/10km) on reaching the road turn right, for a short distance. At the fingerpost turn left, signed Biddlestone and follow the track across the hill to the gate.

Pass through the gate

Pass through the gate and continue down the slope for a short distance. On reaching the stone outcrop climb up around the stones – the path can be difficult to find here in the summer due to the bracken – and cross the burn above the small waterfalls, taking care in wet weather.

Once over the burn continue up the steep narrow path, passing what was once Tod Stones farmstead. The way is indistinct here, and can be wet in places, but continue to a stile in the fence ahead.

Cross over the stile and join the farm track

Cross over the stile, and carry on to join a well worn farm track. Carry on round the side of the hill, passing a u-shaped conifer plantation on your right, making for Hazeltonrig Burn and the next conifer plantation. Pass through the plantation using the stiles provided.

Once through the plantation turn left

Once through the plantation turn left, and look for the stile ahead. Continue straight across the next 2 fields to the conifer plantation. Follow the path through the trees. Once out of the plantation, cross the stile into the field. Turn half-right and continue down the field to the rough farm track. Cross the track and head down to the wicket gate in the corner of the fence. Follow this path down to the bridge keeping the trees on your left, once over the bridge continue on past the houses.

Continue straight down the track

Approximately 70m past the bungalow turn left up the grassy track, which winds uphill to the gate. Go through the gate and keeping to the track continue on across improved pasture and through another 2 gates. After about 100m you reach a fourth gate by the wall end, with the church in sight, continue straight ahead down the permissive track back to your car.

Walk route

Getting there

The starting point for the walk is at Alnham Church.

From Rothbury take the B6341 west to Thropton. At the ‘Cross Keys’ take the road on the right for Netherton, at the school junction turn right for Alnham. Park on the grass verge in front of the church.

Grid Ref: NT 996 109

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