At Northumberland’s very heart is the Coquet Valley.  Tumbling and babbling through the turned hills of the Upper Coquet to the gentler plains of the river valley floor at Rothbury, the River Coquet carves a free-flowing path through a mosaic of open meadows and wild, moorland.

The serenity of the Coquet Valley today belies a violent and bloody past when the notorious Border Reivers ruled, leaving a marauding trail through the hills and valleys here.

Fortified buildings like Woodhouses Bastle near Holystone stand as lasting reminders of the valley’s violent past.

The clear flowing waters of the Coquet Valley mixed with a ready supply of barley from local farmers combined with the area’s inaccessible location proved an irresistible blend for outlaws who distilled duty-free whisky in illicit stills.

Nowadays the routes of these colourful outlaws are followed by walkers and cyclists. Routes today take in the remains of these stills, including those of Black Rory, one of Britain’s most colourful whisky smugglers.

Among the spectacular countryside are friendly villages like Rothbury, Longframlington and Alwinton – home of Alwinton Border Shepherds Show, a traditional agricultural show, celebrating the best of life in the Coquet Valley.

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