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Walking

Northumberland is a walker's paradise! With the Coastal Path to the east and the Cheviot Hills to the west of the county, there are walks to please everyone. The Northumberland Coastal Path offers some of the finest coastal walking in Europe, it stretches for 64 miles (103km) along the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from Cresswell in the South to Berwick-upon-Tweed in the North.

The Coastal Path is split into 6 manageable walks: 

Stage 1 - Cresswell to Warkworth (10.5 miles / 16.8 km)
Stage 2 - Warkworth to Craster (13 miles / 20.4 km)
Stage 3 - Craster to Seahouses (10 miles / 16 km)
Stage 4 - Seahouses to Belford (6.6 miles / 10.7 km)
Stage 5 - Belford to Fenwick (6 miles / 10.3 km)
Stage 6 - Fenwick to Berwick upon Tweed (12 miles / 19.5 km)

Each stage offers a unique and beautiful taste of the Northumberland coastline. Details about the Northumberland Coastal Path can be found on their website.



More challenging walks can be found in the Cheviot Hills. A good starting point for Cheviot walks is Harthope Valley, near the town of Wooler. The valley is in the heart of Northumberland's National Park and there are many walking routes of varying difficulty from here. The challenge of climbing the Cheviot is not to be taken on lightly!

The origins of the Cheviot lie in massive volcanic lava flows some 380 million years ago. Subsequent volcanic activity beneath the surface cooled to form a pinkish granite and this eventually became exposed with weathering. The intense heat of this later rock altered and hardened the earlier lava, which then resisted weathering to form tor-like outcrops. 

Another 30 million years later, at the end of the Carboniferous Period, the Cheviot massif was pushed up and tilted slightly eastwards. A series of faults, combined with erosive action, created the College, Harthope and Breamish Valleys and formed the framework to which the Ice, Stone and Bronze Ages wielded their respective tools to help fashion the Cheviot Hills as we know them today.

The summit of the Cheviot is marked by a triangulation pillar perched high on a concrete plinth, supported on an 11 foot pile. Until recently this pillar was an island in a sea of peat, impossible to reach without difficulty and perseverance. Now, in order to prevent further erosion to a sensitive landscape, a millstone slabbed pathway has been laid, running almost without interruption, across the summit plateau. 

 

The choice of routes to the summit are numerous and varied and whether a direct line to the top is chosen or a more inventive or circuitous one is preferred, there is much to savour along the way. By far the most popular and direct route starts where the Hawsen and Harthope Burns meet, at the end of the public road through the Harthope Valley. This is a relatively straightforward 6 mile walk climbing initially over easy and then slightly steeper ground to join the ridge to the top of Scald Hill. 

Following a short easy descent to a sometimes boggy depression there is the final stiff climb to the cairn at the eastern end of the summit plateau. The triangulation pillar lies just under half a mile along the millstone pathway. The return route follows the same course with good views down into the Harthope Valley and further to the Northumberland coastline.

A useful resource for walking information about Northumberland is Walking Britain.
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