Rothbury Rambles

When I took up walking again, Rothbury lay just outside my walking catchment area. However, as my first country walks in my teens were from Rothbury, I knew that it was an area I would like to explore more. When I started to plan the logistics of a weekend in Rothbury, it was a relief to also discover that there is a regular direct bus from Newcastle.

View of Rothbury from above the Coquet

Rothbury is a bustling town within commuting distance of Newcastle with plenty of good shops, cafes, galleries and pubs. It is a more prosperous place than most villages further north in the county, probably because it is in easy commuting distance from Newcastle. Parking can be a bit haphazard (although there are car parks outside the centre) so it may be worth considering the regular public transport from Newcastle as I did. I stayed at the bunkhouse in Rothbury which had a cafe downstairs.

These routes were downloaded as PDFs from a commercial website. Although they contain better information about the routes than I can provide, the maps are not of a good quality which is why I have recreated them on Viewranger. Apologies for the quality of the photos due to the rubbish camera I had then. They don’t do these lovely walks justice. Maps on this post are courtesy of Viewranger and Ordnance Survey ©.

I had planned 3 walks; two moderate 5 mile walks and one strenuous 10 mile walk:

  • Rothbury to Whitton Hillhead (5m circular)
  • Rothbury valley (10m Circular)
  • Rothbury terraces (5.5m circular)
  • Rothbury to Whitton Hillhead. 5m. Circular

This short 5 mile circular walk was planned for the afternoon of the day I arrived. I headed south from the town centre following the St. Oswald’s way past Sharp’s folly.

Sharps Folly track
Track up to Sharp’s Folly

Here the route continues upwards to Whitton Hillhead where there are great views of Rothbury and the Simonside hills.

Whitton Hillhead
View of the Cheviots towards Whitton Hillhead

I then turned north towards Newtown, a former mill village and continued eastwards to join the Coquet river walk back into Rothbury. This was just enough to stretch my legs and sample the fine weather.

Whitton Hillhead Route
Rothbury to Whitton Hillhead Map
  • Rothbury valley circular. 10m. Moderate.

This is a 10 mile strenuous route which I also downloaded. I headed out of Rothbury on a fine morning following lovely old country lanes east towards the village of Thropton. Here I crossed a small bridge over the Wreigh Burn and from there crossed the floor of the valley towards Tosson limekiln and Great Tosson.

Thropton Lane
Lane from Rothbury to Thropton

Here I headed into the Simonside forest to the base of the crag where I sat on the bench to have lunch and admire the lovely view.

View from Simonside
View from the base of Simonside crags

Simonside is a very popular area so there were many walkers and mountain bikers around. After lunch I headed up to Simonside crag where there is a short scramble up to the two mile undulating ridge path.

Simonside Crags scramble
Simonside Ridge
Up to Simonside ridge

The path links the cairns at Old stell crag, Dove crag, and the Beacon before descending to Lordenshaw.

Simonside Ridge Path
Simonside Ridge path

I then joined the St. Oswalds way via Lordenshaw iron age hillfort, where you can see earth mounds and cup and ring carvings, before returning across the fields into Rothbury.

Rothbury Valley map
Rothbury Valley walk map
  • Rothbury carriageway walk. 6m. Leisurely.

This is a moderate 5 or 6 mile walk which follows the route of Lord Armstrong’s specially constructed carriage drive from his estate at Rothbury. It has fine views of the surrounding countryside in all directions. Rising up out of Rothbury across the fields I soon came to the edge of the Cragside estate where there are some beautiful avenues of old beech trees.

Cragside Woods
Woods on Lord Armstrong’s Cragside Estate

I then passed down through the estate onto the main road heading northwards past Cragside house, before turning through the woods and down a winding track toward Debden Burn. After crossing Debden Burn, I turned immediately right to join a broad track which rises up alongside the woods, to Lord Armstrong’s carriageway drive which is mostly level and easy walking.

Armstrong Carriageway
Track to Armstrong’s carriagway circuit

I was lucky to have good weather for the whole weekend and it was very pleasant on this walk, affording time to stop and enjoy the views on all sides of the carriageway. After a short way I sat down to enjoy a leisurely lunch.

Carriageway Views
Views from Armstrong’s Carriageway

On continuing, I walked the final few miles around the carriageway which sits on a heather plateau, to a little turn off towards a stone cairn which has great views over Rothbury.

Rothbury View
View from the cairn down into Rothbury

From here I descended through the bracken back into Rothbury town centre.

Rothbury Carriageway
Rothbury Carriageway Map

As this walk was quite short, I had plenty of time for a snack before joining the busy bus back to Newcastle.

Routes are available on my Viewranger profile.