The Best Walks in Northumberland

I was born in Northumberland, I’ve spent lots of my life there, and I love hiking.

Put those three things together, and you get a knowledgeable, handsome and intelligent local expert who knows all the best walks in the region (that’s what I tell myself anyway).

For this article, I’ve had a big old brainstorm of all the Northumberland hikes I’ve ever been on, and I’ve compiled all of my favorites. I’ve included popular walks, hidden gems, long-distance epics and family-friendly mini adventures.

Whatever type of Northumberland walk you’re looking for, it’s somewhere in this guide.

The Best Short Walks in Northumberland

If you’re just looking for day hikes, pick a stroll from this section.

Some of them are hard, some of them are easy, some of them are coastal and some of them are inland – but they’re all really really lovely.

1. The Cheviot and Hedgehope Loop

The Cheviot is the biggest peak in Northumberland – good place to start a hiking list eh! The mountain also lends its name to the range of peaks it sits within (The Cheviots, obviously, in case you were wondering), which are close to the Scottish border.

The Cheviot

Located in the north of Northumberland National Park, the Cheviots is one of the best hiking spots in Northumberland. It’s boggy, barren, remote, and there are loads of great routes, but the best one by far is the big long loop from the car park in Harthope Valley.

Park up and head left, on a steep track that takes you up to Hedgehope (the second biggest peak in the area). When you hit the top of Hedgehope, keep going ahead of you and eventually in a loop back to the car park via The Cheviot and a few other smaller peaks.

  • Walk Difficulty: Moderate
  • Walk Distance: Around 14.5km / 9 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 4-5 hours
  • Kid Friendly: No
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: Harthope Valley car park

2. College Valley Hillside Walk

I’m gonna be honest – I haven’t even done this one, but loads of people have told me that College Valley is even better than Harthope Valley.

College Valley Hillside Walk

The scenery is similar, but it’s even less popular with hikers, making it a great pick if you like remote walks.

And it has wild goats.

This walk takes you along both sides of the river that run through the valley, so most of your walk is flat, meaning you don’t have to tackle any tricky peaks. You’ll see lots of farmland, looming peaks and (if you’re lucky) those famous wild Cheviot goats.

Horned, hardy and hairy, these little boys look tough but they’re actually pretty approachable. Tell them I said hello.

  • Walk Difficulty: Moderate
  • Walk Distance: Around 8km / 5 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Kid Friendly: Yes
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: Hethpool car park

3. The Drake Stone Walk

Upper Coquetdale is the most underrated hiking region in Northumberland. Remote and rural, its biggest towns include Harbottle and Alwinton, which have a combined population of around 350 people (see, I told you the area was small).

Upper Coquetdale is mainly made up of undulating hills, heather-clad ridges, endless farmland, tiny settlements, millions of sheep and big long stretches of basically nothing.

If you want a big lovely combo of excellent views, proper isolation and some archetypally-English scenes, you’ll love the Drake Stone walk. Apparently the stone has some sort of healing properties or something, but that’s probably not true is it.

The Drake Stone

If you’re looking for other untouched wanders, Upper Coquetdale will be your favorite region in Northumberland. Check out the Barrowburn Circuit and any of the ridges along the England-Scotland border.

  • Walk Difficulty: Moderate
  • Walk Distance: Around 8km / 5 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Kid Friendly: Yes
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: The Forestry Commision Car Park between Harbottle and the Drake Stone

4. Sycamore Gap

Later in this guide I’ve unpacked the whole Hadrian’s Wall walk, but if you’re just looking for a short jaunt along the best bit of Hadrian’s Wall, this is it.

Sycamore Gap

Park up in Steel Rigg car park, walk past Sycamore Gap (probably one of the most-photographed trees in the world), Crag Lough lake and some of the ridges that meander between the two, then double-back on yourself when you reach a lonely farm.

Tackling the entirety of the Hadrian’s Wall walk is a brilliant challenge, but if you just want a little snippet of its best stretch, the Sycamore Gap walk is great (and surprisingly accessible).

  • Walk Difficulty: Easy
  • Walk Distance: 6.5km / 4 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Kid Friendly: Yes
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: Steel Rigg car park

5. The Wannie Line Walk

One of the most obscure entries on this list, the Wannie Line Walk is one of my favorites in Northumberland, and it’s a great pick if you want something largely-unknown but relatively easy.

It’s all pretty flat and easy to follow, but in the three times I’ve done this walk, I’ve genuinely never seen anyone else (well, apart from the people I was walking with).

Lots of this walk takes place along now-unused railway lines that once carried coal, lime, stone and passengers. You’ll pass lots of sheep, (usually angry) cows, lime kilns, and a lovely area with a stream.

  • Walk Difficulty: Easy
  • Walk Distance: 10.1km / 6.3 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Kid Friendly: Yes
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: The car park at NE61 4EG

6. The Simonside Ridge Walk

Probably the most popular casual hiking spot in Northumberland, Simonside is a range of small peaks really close to the super-charming market town of Rothbury.

The Simonside Ridge Walk

Walks here are pretty easy, and the views you get far outweigh the effort required to get them. From the top, you can see The Cheviots, the distant sea, the surrounding farms, and more heather than you’ve probably ever seen in your life. You might even see some wild adders (but don’t let them nibble on your precious little ankles).

This walk isn’t the most secluded or obscure in the world, but it’s beautiful, accessible, popular and easy to navigate. If you want a simple walk with excellent payoffs, this is it.

When you’re finished, make sure you spend some time in lovely lovely Rothbury.

  • Walk Difficulty: Moderate
  • Walk Distance: 7.2km / 4.5 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Kid Friendly: Yes
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: Lordenshaws car park

7. Thrunton Woods and Long Crag

I don’t normally like wooded walks, cos I think they’re a bit boring. Who wants to look at trees when you can look at hills, know what I mean?

But if you want to do a wooded walk in Northumberland, you’ll love Thrunton Woods. It offers a good compromise between woods and peaks, so even miserable forest-haters like me enjoy it.

Woodland path at Thrunton woods, Northumberland

On this diverse trek, you pass through low-level forests, flat moors, rocky crags, hidden caves, excellent viewpoints and much more.

While the walk starts in forested areas, it ascends over into hilly regions, offering views of the forests and farms that surround the peaks.

  • Walk Difficulty: Moderate
  • Walk Distance: 12km / 7.5 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 4 hours
  • Kid Friendly: No
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: The Thrunton Woods Forestry Commission car park

8. Bolam Lake Stroll

Autumn Swan In Bolam Lake

If you’re walking with kids or you just want a gentle jaunt, a short stroll around Bolam Lake is great. The lake is beautiful, it’s surrounded by woodland, and there are always loads of swans and ducks hanging around (and sometimes even roe deer and red squirrels).

The circular walk around the lake is only around 1 mile (1.6km), and all the paths are well-maintained and suitable for pushchairs.

  • Walk Difficulty: Easy
  • Walk Distance: 1.6km / 1 mile
  • Average Walk Duration: 30 minutes
  • Kid Friendly: Yes
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: Bolam Lake car park

9. Hareshaw Linn

Another gentle wander for hikers with kids, or anyone else who can’t be bothered for a long walk, Hareshaw Linn is a lovely waterfall near the equally-lovely small town of Bellingham.

Hareshaw Linn Waterfall, Northumberland

The round-trip walk is only 3 miles (4.8km), and it’s the same way in and out, following a simple, straightforward footpath.

The waterfall is small but pretty, the woods around it are ancient and atmospheric, and the area is home to lots of rare animals, plants and mosses. If you’re lucky, you might even see badgers and red squirrels.

When you’ve finished your walk, Bellingham is a nice little place for a wander and some food and all that.

  • Walk Difficulty: Easy
  • Walk Distance: 4.8km / 3 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Kid Friendly: Yes
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: Hareshaw Linn car park in Bellingham

10. Craster to Seahouses – Or Vice-versa

Two of the prettiest (and best) places on Northumberland’s coast, I love both Craster and Seahouses. But the walk between the two of them is even better – it takes you past Dunstanburgh Castle (one of the biggest castles in Northumberland), along excellent secluded beaches and through some tiny towns and villages.

Dunstanburgh Castle In Northumberland

Seahouses is a great place to finish your walk, as it has lots of fun things to do, plenty of conveniences, and loads of places to eat and drink.

The one-way walk is around 10 miles (16km), but you can just get the bus back to where you started once you’re done.

If you’re looking for an equally-impressive but much shorter walk, try going from Seahouses to Bamburgh Castle instead. My favorite castle in Northumberland, the place is massive, and loads of locals love coming here to take photographs and splash around on the beach.

  • Walk Difficulty: Moderate
  • Walk Distance: 16km / 10 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 4-5 hours
  • Kid Friendly: Yes
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: The center of Craster

11. Scots Gap to Rothbury

Another lengthy big boy, this is my favorite Northumberland hiking hidden gem.

If you have access to two cars, park one up at Scots Gap and the other at Rothbury, and walk between the two of them. Now this isn’t really an official walk, but if you take an OS Map and do some riffing, you’ll be able to find your way.

Fontburn Reservoir, Nothumberland
Fontburn Reservoir, Nothumberland

During the walk, you’ll pass Simonside (which I’ve already mentioned), Fontburn Reservoir, dense woods, winding paths, tiny villages and excellent views of distant peaks. And as a bonus, you’ll end in Rothbury!

If you’d rather follow an actual (but similar) route, follow the St. Oswald’s Way path (more on that later) from Kirkwhelpington to Rothbury.

  • Walk Difficulty: Hard
  • Walk Distance: Around 24km / 15 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 6 hours
  • Kid Friendly: No
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: The car park at NE61 4EG

12. Morpeth to Bothal

Morpeth is one of the biggest towns in Northumberland, so it’s a good place to use as a base if you like a bit more action and excitement.

Autumn Walk Along River Wansbeck In Morpeth
River Wansbeck, Morpeth

If you’re staying in Morpeth, the walk to Bothal along the River Wansbeck is a nice half-day jaunt you can tackle without having to venture far. You wander through woods and along the river to a massive castle before reaching Bothal and crossing the river over some stepping stones. You then return to Morpeth along the other side of the river.

This walk is really pretty, and it’s a nice way to see Bothal, a cute little village with a handful of houses.

  • Walk Difficulty: Easy
  • Walk Distance: Around 11km / 6.5 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 3 hours
  • Kid Friendly: Yes
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: Anywhere close to Whorral Bank road just on the outskirts of Morpeth

The Best Long Walks in Northumberland

If you’re looking for a heftier challenge, you’ll love these walks – most entries in this section of our list are multi-day adventures brimming with challenges, adventure and variety…

13. Hadrian’s Wall

Here’s the one you were all expecting to see.

One of the most famous long-distance walks in the UK, it’s also one of the best, easiest and most varied, offering coasts, hills, towns, villages, farmland, and some of the most historically-significant sites in all of the UK. Walks this accessible don’t normally have views this good.

Hadrian's Wall Path
The Hadrian’s Wall Path at dusk

The hike (sort of) follows the original path of Hadrian’s Wall, a barrier built by Romans to stop the northern barbarians from entering the region south of the wall. Along the hike, you can still see milecastles, fragments of wall and ancient Roman forts.

If you want to tackle the full walk, you hike from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway – so not all of the hike is in Northumberland, but the best bits are.

I wrote an entire guide to the Hadrian’s Wall Walk here, check it out next.

  • Walk Difficulty: Moderate
  • Walk Distance: 135km / 84 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 4-6 days
  • Kid Friendly: No
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: Segedunum Roman Fort, or Bowness-on-Solway

14. The Northumberland Coast Path

If you want a big lovely taste of everything that’s so great about the Northumberland coast, do this walk. You get fishing villages, massive castles, friendly locals, secluded beaches, charming towns and loads more.

Northumberland Coast Path

Some of the best bits include Seahouses, Craster, Bamburgh Castle and Dunstanburgh Castle, all of which I’ve already mentioned in this article. But on top of all those big juicy highlights, you also get Warkworth Castle, Alnmouth, Berwick, Druridge Bay and plenty more.

The Northumberland Coast Path is known as the easiest long-distance walk in Northumberland. Because of its distance, it’s still a hefty challenge, but it’s flat, easy to follow, and there are loads of nice towns and villages to eat, drink and rest along the way.

Read my complete guide to the Northumberland Coast Path here.

If you’d rather cycle a similar route, tackle the Coast and Castles bike ride instead.

  • Walk Difficulty: Moderate
  • Walk Distance: 100km / 62 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 4-6 days
  • Kid Friendly: No
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: Cresswell or Berwick-upon-Tweed

15. St. Oswald’s Way

This is like Northumberland’s version of the Camino De Santiago.

Starting along Hadrian’s Wall Path and finishing on the religiously-significant (and weird) island of Lindisfarne, this pilgrimage route is a lesser-known long-distance challenge. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for something unique and remote.

River Wansbeck At Kirkwhelpington Along The St Oswald's Way
River Wansbeck in Kirkwhelpington along St Oswald’s Way

It’s also massively diverse – about half of the hike is inland, taking in ruins, castles and farms, while the other half is along the coast. It’s like someone took Hadrian’s Wall and the Northumberland Coast Path, then mixed them together and added in some other stuff.

If you want a good feel for all of Northumberland’s diversity, this is the best long-distance walk on our list.

I’m surprised more people don’t know about this one… so get yourself involved before everyone else does.

  • Walk Difficulty: Hard
  • Walk Distance: 156km / 97 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 5-7 days
  • Kid Friendly: No
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: Heavenfield

16. St. Cuthbert’s Way

Similar to St. Oswald’s Way, St. Cuthbert’s Way is another pilgrimage route, and it also ends in Lindisfarne.

St Cuthbert's Cave
St Cuthbert’s Cave

It starts in Melrose, which is actually in the Scottish borders. So not all of this walk is in Northumberland, but the parts which aren’t are pretty close, so let’s all just pretend. And it all looks pretty Northumberland-ish anyway.

Some of the stretches of this walk are even more remote than St. Oswald’s Way. It takes you through College Valley, other remote parts of the Cheviots, and some of the least-explored parts of Northumberland. And again, it ends on the coast.

For a long-distance walk, St. Oswald’s Way is actually quite short, perfect if you don’t have much time.

  • Walk Difficulty: Hard
  • Walk Distance: 100km / 62 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 4-5 days
  • Kid Friendly: No
  • Dog Friendly: No
  • Start: Melrose, Scottish Borders

17. Kielder Lakeside Way

To be honest, hardly anybody walks this whole thing in one go, but you can if you like. It measures in at 26 miles (42km) so it’s the site of an annual marathon. And if they can run it, you can walk it, you lazy little boy (or girl).

Timber Cabin Hut Near Kielder Lake

Kielder is the home of the biggest reservoir in the UK (depending on how you measure it, but let’s not get into all that stuff), and though the Lakeside Way route goes around the perimeter of just one reservoir, it’s a surprisingly diverse route, offering farmland, forests, art, various animals, high viewpoints, low viewpoints and loads more.

Walking the whole thing (if you fancy the challenge) is a great way of getting acquainted with everything in the area.

The Lakeside Way is a multi-use path, so if you can’t be bothered to walk it all, you could cycle it instead.

  • Walk Difficulty: Moderate
  • Walk Distance: 42km / 26 miles
  • Average Walk Duration: 7-9 hours
  • Kid Friendly: Yes
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Start: It’s a loop, so anywhere you want!

Final Words

Thanks for reading our guide to the best hikes in Northumberland. Now get your boots on, make some sandwiches and go and do one.

If you only have time to do a couple of walks, I’d recommend doing one coastal walk and one inland walk – so go for Craster to Seahouses, then either the Sycamore Gap walk or the Cheviot and Hedgehope loop. They’re three of my favorites, and combined, they offer a good reflection of the area’s diversity. Craster to Seahouses has lots of coastal scenes, towns and villages, Sycamore Gap is packed with history and great views, and the Cheviots are really remote and rural.

But if you have lots of time, consider a long-distance jaunt – they’re the best way to get a proper feel for all of Northumberland’s beauty and nuance.

Want to know anything else about traveling in Northumberland? We have articles on the best castles in Northumberland, the most beautiful places in Northumberland and much more. We also have guides on lots of other UK hikes, including the best hikes in Scotland and the Coast to Coast trail.

Whatever you want to know about outdoor adventures in the UK, we have it right here one our site.

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