Morpeth is a large town in the south of the county within easy, commutable reach of Newcastle and nearby Ashington. I should preface this post by saying that I am not very familiar with the south of the county so I apologise if there are gaps in my knowledge.
While there are a reasonable supply of B&Bs, I am not aware of much budget accommodation or any campsites to suit walkers and outdoor people. The Tourist Information office at the Chantry on Bridge Street should be able to advise. The town incorporates most of the facilities you would expect and is accessible by bus and occasional trains on the East Coast Mainline.
As it is the most populous town in Northumberland, I decided to explore the possibilities for walking. After a bit of time spent poring over a map, I found these routes which didn’t disappoint. There are a selection of both short and longer routes which explore the sites within the town centre, as well as the surrounding areas of Cottingwood Common, Bluebell Woods, the remains of Newminster Cistercian Abbey, the River Wansbeck, the Wansbeck Valley, Bothal and Mitford:
1/ Short Routes
- Bluebell Woods and Cottingwood Common Circular. Leisurely. 2.65 miles / 4.3 km
- Lady’s Walk and Newminster Circular. Moderate. 2.55 miles / 4.1 km
- Around Morpeth Town Centre. Easy. 1.75 miles / 3 km
2/ Longer Routes
- Bluebell Woods to Bothal Castle and back. Moderate. 6 miles / 10 km
- Morpeth and Mitford Circular. Moderate. 5.4 miles / 9 km
All these routes are available to download from my ViewRanger profile.
1/ Short Routes
Bluebell Woods and Cottingwood Common Circular. Leisurely. 2.65 miles / 4.3 km
This is a leisurely 2.7 mile circular walk starting at St James the Great Church at the junction between Cottingwood Lane and Howard Road near the town centre in Morpeth. It is at its best when the bluebells are in flower.
The circular route heads from the town centre along Dark Lane, through the aptly named Bluebell Woods & around Cottingwood Common to return to your starting point.
It is on varied terrain. Beware that the stretches around Cottingwood Common and through Bluebell Woods can become muddy after heavy snow or rain.
Lady’s Walk and Newminster Circular. Moderate. 2.55 miles / 4.1 km
This is a moderate 2.6 mile circular walk starting at the Tourist Information Office at the Chantry on Bridge Street. From here the route heads over the footbridge and along the River Wansbeck past the steppy stones and around the remains of Newminster Cistercian Abbey, built in the 12th century to the west of the town.
Here the route turns southwards along a track, which includes a brief stretch through a housing estate, to return downhill through Carlisle Park, past Ha’ Hill and over the Chantry Bridge back to your starting point.
Lady’s Walk is having occasional flood defence work done along it which means that the path is sometimes closed for maintenance work. It may be possible to detour along the opposite side of the river between Skinnery Bridge and Lowford Bridge when this happens.
Around Morpeth Town Centre. Easy. 1.75 miles / 3 km
This is a short 1.75 mile circular walk which is based on the Morpeth Town Trail. It begins at the Tourist Information Office at the Chantry on Bridge Street. The route takes in some well known sites in Morpeth including the Chantry footbridge, the Court House, Ha’ Hill, the Church of St James the Great, Sanderson Arcade, the Clock Tower and the Town Hall.
It also includes a pleasant walk along the River Wansbeck as far as the Bakehouse stepping stones or steppy stones.
There are some interpretation boards at points along the route.
2/ Longer Routes.
Bluebell Woods to Bothal Castle. Moderate. 6 miles / 10 km
This is a moderate 6 mile river walk from the layby on Dark Lane just outside Morpeth by the entrance to Bluebell Woods. The route heads into the woods as far as a sign for Bothal where you to take a turn on the right.
From here the path heads along the undulating path by the Wansbeck River as far as Bothal.
At Bothal you head up the hill to Bothal Castle before retracing your steps back along the valley to your starting point.
This is a pleasant moderate walk which is best avoided when the river is in spate. The track alongside the river can be muddy in places.
Morpeth and Mitford Circular. Moderate. 5.4 miles / 9 km
This is a moderate walk which crosses the Chantry footbridge to head out along the River Wansbeck from the Tourist Information Office in Morpeth town centre. The route along Lady’s Walk stays roughly parallel to the Wansbeck and passes through Borough Woods and under the A1 until you reach Mitford. Here there is a pub which serves food should you wish to break your journey into two halves.
Lady’s Walk is occasionally closed due to flood defence work and land slips. When this occurs it may be possible to cross the river between Skinnery Bridge and Lowford Bridge and take the road. Obviously if the path is open there is no need to cross the river.
The path across country can become muddy in places and care should be taken in places when the river is in spate. Walkers should also beware of fast moving traffic on the road back eastward into Morpeth.