The Simonside Hills

Please be aware, Simonside Car Park and some surrounding routes will be closed from 9th September for approximately 8 weeks due to forestry works.

Upcoming forestry works from 9th September 2020 Forestry England are working in and around the Simonside car park from Wednesday 9th September 2020. During this time, both the car park and surrounding trails will be closed to public access. Alternative walking routes from the Lordenshaws car park will allow continued access to the Simonside crag.

Enjoy a circular walk up to the summit of Simonside, involving some short, steep gradients.

A walk along the Simonside Hills must not be missed. From the top, you have a wonderful 360-degree view encompassing the Cheviot Hills and North Sea coastline.

The area teems with wildlife such as the curlew, red grouse, wild goats, and even red squirrels in the forest below.

Walk overview

Walk difficulty
Walk distance
4.5 miles / 7.2km
Walk duration
3 hours
Recommended OS Map
O.S. Explorer OL 42 Kielder Water & Forest
Dog friendly

Step by step route

Follow the red waymarkers

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 in the trees. Keep following the forest road.

At the junction turn left

At the junction, by a small clearing in the trees, turn left and continue uphill along the forest road. Walk around the wooden barrier., by a small clearing in the trees, turn left and continue uphill along the forest road. Walk around the wooden barrier.

Little Church Rock

A short distance after the wooden barrier, and just before the area that has been felled of trees, is a grassy path on the left leading up to Little Church Rock which is well worth a visit.

After exploring Little Church Rock retrace your steps back to join the forest road. Continue along the forest road as it gently heads downhill through the felled area.

Little Church Rock is thought to have been a gathering place for illicit preachings during medieval times. Bronze Age burial cairns are in the clearing there too.

Just before the two large boulders

Just before the two large boulders on the forest road take the footpath on the left that heads uphill.

Look out for the large flat stone on the ground that is ‘criss cross rock’. Cut with curved grooves, possibly prehistoric rock art, or, medieval carters and drovers to make the track less slippery for their ponies.

Carry on up the footpath

Carry on up the footpath and through a narrow gully. At the junction take the left-hand path up and over the heather moorland to meet the red gravel forest road.

Turn right along the red gravel road

Just before it curves to the right, take the footpath on the left, past the National Park interpretation panel. Follow the footpath steeply up the crags.

The path is steep in places, with stone pitching, please take care.

At the top of the crags turn left

At the top of the crags turn left along the flagged path and head for the stone cairn on your left which marks the summit of Simonside. Follow the path from the summit over the moorland and through a rocky outcrop.

Continue along the path

Continue along the path for a distance and then head down the stone steps of the Old Stell Crag rock outcrop.

Keep to the flagged path

Keep to the flagged path across the heather moorland and on to Dove Crag. Keep following the path steeply downhill, looking out for a footpath leading off to the left.

Take this left-hand footpath

Take this left-hand footpath, heading down towards the trees.

Turn left

Turn left onto the forest track.

At the junction turn right

At the junction after crossing the Coe Burn, turn right and follow the forest road downhill with the burn on your right.

Take the footpath on the right

As the forest road bears left take the footpath on the right leading down through the trees. Follow this path all the way downhill and back to the car park which is on your left.

Walk route

Getting there

By car

To reach the car park at the start of this walk, take the B6342 South out of Rothbury.

After about 2 miles, turn right on the sharp bend near the National Park boundary sign, onto a single track road. Follow this road, passing the Lordenshaws car park on your right. Continue between the trees, passing a layby on your left, and turn left into the main Forestry Commission car park.