Do you have commitment issues when it comes to long walking routes? Or maybe your family holiday is filled with little legs that just can't hack long hikes? Whatever the reason, we've got you covered, as we have picked five of the best short walking routes in Northumberland.
Mostly circular, all beautiful, and none over 5 miles, take your pick from fairy trails, mysterious caves and bluebell-carpeted woodland. Here are our five short walks in Northumberland for you to enjoy this summer and beyond:
1) Wandering and wildlife watching
If you love to mix your wandering with wildlife watching
, this is the walk for you . Hauxley Nature Reserve
is a great place to watch birds, butterflies, red squirrels and otters. There are a number of circular trails around the reserve, so you can easily return to your original starting point once you’ve completed your chosen route. Leave time for a break in the Look Out Cafe, which has wonderful waterside views of the ponds to entertain you while you taste locally sourced refreshments.
There is also a 1km accessible trail suitable for those who have the pushchair in tow or require wheelchair access, with two accessible bird hides en-route.
Dreamy Druridge Bay
sits just next to Hauxley Nature Reserve, where the views are serene and the wildlife is spectacular. Infringed with rugged dunes, its unspoilt coastline stretches as far as the eye can see and families can play in the sand, explore on foot and wildlife watch.
Where to park: There is car parking on site (NE65 0JR). All day parking for cars is £2, or £25 for an Annual Parking Permit 1 April to 31 March.
Make a day of it: Amble
is an approximate 10 minute drive away from Hauxley, where you can find plenty of places to eat and drink. Hire a bike from Pedal Power
and cycle along the coast, take a surfing or paddle boarding lesson with Northside Surf School, visit The Amble Inn
for a bite to eat, and stay at Radcliffes Lodge
if you can’t bear to leave just yet.
2) Stepping stones and secret gardens
Wallington House, Garden and Estate
's River Walk
promises a day of fascinating history, peaceful riverside views and exciting adventures over stepping stones and in secret gardens. At just over 2.5 miles, the whole family can enjoy this gentle route.
Explore the secret, walled garden with its lily pad-covered ponds, then cross the River Wansbeck via stepping stones. Once you reach the route’s woodland areas, find hints of magic in the forest, where tiny doorways fit for fairies hide in the tree trunks.
The circular route ends at Wallington courtyard, where you can grab some refreshments and rest your legs at the tea room.
Where to park: Wallington has a designated car park, and this circular route will take you back to Wallington Hall where you can get back to your car or continue exploring this beautiful building. Please note there is an entry charge when visiting Wallington House, Garden and Estate and there may be pre-booking requirements before you visit.
Make a day of it - Visit Kirkharle Courtyard
for a frothy hot chocolate, homemade lunch and a walk around the picturesque Serpentine lake. Go for a swim at Ponteland Leisure Centre
, or visit Belsay Hall
with its magnificent gardens and medieval castle. For a wildlife adventure, book ahead onto one of Wild Intrigue
’s “Bats and Beers” evenings which start nearby in Elsdon.
3) Bluebells and bustling streets
Discover the 2.5 mile walk through the bustling, stylish streets of Morpeth
to tranquil Bluebell Woods. Starting in the centre, head up Cottingwood Lane, then take the path through the woods and cut into the open fields where, if you’re lucky, you may spot some deer. Follow the path around the outskirts of the hospital and you will arrive at Bluebell Woods, where you can admire the carpet of bright blue in the springtime, and the idyllic woodland surroundings for the rest of the year.
Once you’re out of the woods, you can return, full circle, to Morpeth centre. Stop for a coffee en-route to boost your energy before the walk, or save yourself for the way back and head into one of Morpeth’s many restaurants to fill your boots on return.
Don’t miss Sanderson Arcade
, which holds an array of shops and eateries. Or time your walk with a Wednesday morning and peruse Morpeth Markets
, selling fresh, local produce. There is also a Farmer’s Market on the first Saturday of each month.
Where to park: There is plenty of parking in Morpeth town centre, but a parking disc is required. These can be easily purchased from retailers, Tourist Information Centres
and libraries. You can also use a disc from another council if you already have one.
Make a day of it: Go for a splash about at Riverside Leisure Centre
, visit the Morpeth Chantry
tourist information centre where you can buy local arts and crafts, and see the snow leopards at nearby Northumberland College Zoo
4) Riverside roaming and Roman history
Stroll along the banks of the River Tyne on the 5 mile trail between two historic, quaint, cobbled towns, Hexham
Begin in Hexham where beautiful Sele Park and the stunning grounds of Hexham House make for a peaceful start to your walk. From there, you will wander along woodland trails, past Dilston Castle, and along Devil’s Water where a series of waterfalls tumble into plunge pools. Then, you follow the rushing river until you reach the 17th century stone bridge which takes you into Corbridge.
Corbridge is filled with cosy cafes and local pubs to fill up on refreshments once you have made it to this beautiful small town.
Where to park: Park in Hexham and take the Go North East bus from Corbridge to Hexham once you have finished your walk.
Make a day of it: Visit Corbridge Roman Town
, home to the Corbridge Hoard, one of the most significant finds in Roman history. Enjoy a delicious meal at the Angel of Corbridge
, then once you’ve taken the bus back to Corbridge, extend your stay at Woodside Lodge
, Hexham Holiday Homes
, or Shaftoe’s Guest house
. Hexham holds a bloody history and there is plenty more to explore here, such as Hexham Abbey and England’s first purpose-built prison, the Old Gaol, which can be traced back to the 1300s.
5) Caves and castles
St Cuthbert’s Cave
, nestled away in the remote countryside of Belford,
oozes mystery due to its spiritual past. It is said that the ancient monks of Lindisfarne laid St Cuthbert’s body to rest here in AD875, the seventh century Anglo-Saxon monk, bishop and hermit, who possessed the power of spiritual healing.
Starting in Holburn, this circular, 3 mile route takes you to the eerie cave on both surfaced and unsurfaced tracks, and offers sweeping views of the rugged Cheviot Hills
. When you reach the cave, if you can, go up the hill above it to see the wonderful view over Holy Island
Where to park: The National Trust car park in Holburn
Make a day of it: Visit astounding Bamburgh Castle
to the east, with its surrounding sand dunes and white sand beach. Or visit Ford and Etal Estate
to the west and board the steam train at Heatherslaw Light Railway
, bake bread at the old corn mill
, and visit Hayfarm Heavy Horse Centre
. Extend you stay at Chatton Park House
, Post Office B&B
, Market Cross Guesthouse
, Bluebell Hotel
, and Belford’s many other excellent accommodations