Walking through history: Prehistoric & Saxon Northumberland
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Hills & moorland
Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.
Join our local leader, Patrick, and uncover the prehistoric and Saxon history of Northumberland on walks exploring this beautiful countryside.
- Experience a true insight into the area, with the help of our local leader, Patrick
- Discover prehistoric hillforts built by ancient Britons, rock art, stone circles, bronze age settlements and burial cairns
- Our walks help you to delve into the history and stories of areas including Breamish Valley, the Cheviot Hills, College Valley, Simonside and Yeavering Bell
Great reasons to join us
- Great value: all prices include full board en-suite accommodation, a full programme of walks with all transport to and from the walks, plus evening activities
- Great walking: explore this beautiful countryside in the company of our experienced local HF Holidays' leader
- Accommodation: our Country House is equipped with all the essentials – a welcoming bar and relaxing lounge area, a drying rooming for your boots and kit, and comfortable en-suite rooms
Nether Grange has undeniable history and gorgeous landscapes that surrounds the Alnmouth coastline. It's a perfect mixture of sea and landscape that provides a more settled terrain for everyone who enjoys walking in all of nature's beauty.
Nether Grange has 35 bedrooms, a number of which enjoy views across the links golf course to the sea.
Choose your room
• Comfortable accommodation
• En-suite bathroom with bath or shower
• Tea and coffee making facilities
• Single rooms are available at no extra charge
• Enjoy extra space or exceptional views
• Toweling robe, complimentary slippers
• Same facilities as our classic rooms
• Available from an extra £10 per person per night
• 3 or 4 beds
• Same facilities as our classic rooms
• Full sized twin or double beds for adults and bunk or occasional beds for children
|• Excellent boot and drying rooms
• Large lounge
• Dining room with sea views
• Free WiFi available in some public rooms
• Range of board games and books
|• Elevated terrace and croquet lawn with superb sea views
|All holidays at our Country Houses are full board with breakfast, picnic lunch and evening meal. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.
√ Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.
This itinerary may be subject to change, depending on walking conditions during the week.
Saturday: Arrival day
Sunday: Wether Hill and Hartside in the Breamish Valley, Northumberland National Park
The Breamish Valley contains a remarkable concentration of Iron Age and therefore prehistoric hillforts. The enclosures built from earth and stone surround a central area and they were built by ancient Britons some 2,300 years ago. However, these are not the oldest features and archaeologists have discovered evidence of the Bronze Age people who lived here some 4,000 years ago. Much of the latter has long since disappeared back into the landscape from the Ingram Valley, however it is foretaste of what is to come later in the week when we visit Bewick Moor.
On this guided walk we visit four prehistoric settlements, witness many of the field systems scattered across the hillsides and enjoy some spectacular views of the Cheviot Hills. We also enjoy some very good hill walking above the valley of the River Breamish, an attractive and accessible landscape. There is an option to visit Brough Law, high above the river. The walls have now tumbled, but it presents an excellent example of the scale of settlement in ancient Northumberland.
8 miles/13km with 1,550ft (460m) of ascent
Monday: West Hill, the Hill of the Goats (Yeavering Bell) and the northern edge of The Cheviots
The northern edge of the Cheviot Hills, overlooking the fertile plains to the north, is a natural defensive barrier. It would have made sense to the prehistoric people to build their homes and forts along this line. Our first hillfort is West Hill, a complex of enclosures and hut circles lying on the top of a low hill with extensive views to the west into the College Valley and to the mighty Yeavering Bell to the east.
Wild Cheviot goats roam these hills and it has been suggested by some that they can trace their ancestry back to the Iron Age. They are magnificent animals, quite at home amongst these wild border hills.
Yeavering Bell is a huge Iron Age enclosure, the stone ramparts and gateways still clearly visible in the landscape. It remained occupied well into the 7th and 8th Century and was known to the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon people who occupied Ad Gefrin on the northern edge of the Bell.
We continue walking along the northern edge to Humbleton Hill and our last hillfort of the day before descending into Wooler for some well-earned refreshments.
9.5 miles/15km with 2,150ft (650m) of ascent
Tuesday: Bewick Moor and Blawearie, a Bronze Age landscape
Bewick Moor sits isolated between the Northumberland Coast and the National Park, although from the high point of the moor Cateran Hill, there are extensive views of both. The moor, largely given over to heather is a well-preserved Bronze Age landscape with a few surprises. There is a hidden cave, which we can visit; it's a dark and mysterious place and it's well worth a look. The ruined farm steading at Blawearie, long abandoned sits high on the moor with a touch of the Wuthering Heights about it.
From Blawearie, we get into some truly ancient places, our first hillfort, nameless on the map and sitting high above the valley of the Harehope Burn; it's an atmospheric place to spend some time. Next we have a Bronze Age burial cairn, so perfect it looks as if it was finished yesterday and breath-taking in its beauty.
There's more, another hill fort beckons and some rock art too. The cup and ring marked rocks, although widely dispersed in the western seaboard of Europe have a real concentration here in Northumberland. You will marvel at their complexity and puzzle over their meaning as we make our way back to Eglingham and the pub.
10 miles/16km with 1,100ft (340m) of ascent
Wednesday: Free day
Thursday: Crossing the Border and Great Hetha in the College Valley, in Northumberland National Park
The College Valley is rightly recognised as the most tranquil and beautiful in the National Park. We begin again at Kirknewton, but this time skirt West Hill and pick up a path into the Valley and follow a tarmac road, which is also St. Cuthbert's Way towards the hills. To our left and right we see ancient field systems on the lower slopes and higher up, small hillforts stand sentinel above us.
Eventually and perhaps unexpectedly, we cross the Border into Scotland and join the Pennine Way for a short distance, before soon crossing back into England again. We descend to a remote farmhouse at Trowupburn and then begin the ascent to Great Hetha, a commanding hillfort high above the valley of the College Burn. A last reminder of the prehistoric landscape, a stone circle lies in the field beside by the road as we complete our walk at Hethpool.
10 miles/15.5km with 1,900ft (500m) of ascent
Friday: Rothbury, Simonside and the cup and ring rocks at Lordenshaw hillfort, a Bronze Age settlement
The Simonside Ridge, a high point in the heart of Northumberland, has many prehistoric features. The Bronze Age hillfort of Lordenshaw is well preserved and its ramparts, hut circles and signs of those ancient people are clear in the landscape. There are several cup and ring marked rocks scattered across the hillfort, always a highlight and a genuine link to the ancient community that lived here. Hidden amongst the trees, there are dozens of Bronze Age burial cairns, or 'cists' pronounced 'kists' to be found. The ashes and burnt bones from Bronze Age cremations were placed inside the cist and then covered with a capstone to secure the burial. Bronze Age swords and Stone Age arrowheads have been discovered in the area, all signs that this area of Northumberland has been inhabited for thousands of years.
8.5 miles (13.5km) with 1,450 feet (440m) of ascent
Saturday: Depart after breakfast
Nether Grange sits right at the heart of the historic coastal village of Alnmouth. Located right on the North Sea coast there is a sweeping sandy beach and a small tidal harbour. Facilities include a handful of small shops, pubs and cafés.
A wider range of facilities, including shops, supermarkets, banks and chemists can be found in Alnwick, the nearest town. Alnwick is about four miles inland and is connected to Alnmouth by regular buses.
During your visit to the Nether Grange you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest:
Alnwick Castle & gardens
The huge Alnwick Castle is a big attraction in its own right and has gained a younger audience since being used as ‘Hogwarts Castle’ in the Harry Potter films. The gardens have undergone extensive rebuilding and are now the main draw for many visitors. Alnwick is just 10 to 15 minutes' drive from Alnmouth, and can also be reached using the hourly X18 bus. www.alnwickcastle.com or www.alnwickgarden.com
Owned by the Armstrong family since the 1750s, Bamburgh Castle occupies a splendid position above the sweeping sands of the North Sea coast. Bamburgh is 35 minutes' drive from Alnmouth, and can also be reached using the 501 local bus which runs every other hour. www.bamburghcastle.com
Take a boat trip (weather permitting) from Seahouses to the Farne Islands; one of the best places in Britain to view seals and puffins. Seahouses is around 45 minutes' drive from Alnmouth, and can also be reached using the 501 bus. www.farne-islands.com
English Christianity was born in 7th century Northumberland and Lindisfarne Priory, is its oldest major site, dating from 635AD. It is located on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, cut off by the tides twice a day (make sure that you check the tide times before you visit). The Heritage Centre tells the stories of St Aidan, St Cuthbert and St Bede and displays the 8th century Lindisfarne Gospels in electronic form. Linisfarne is just under an hour's drive from Alnmouth. www.english-heritage.org.uk/lindisfarne-priory
Warkworth Castle, a few miles to the south of Alnmouth, towers over a bend in the River Coquet and the picturesque town of Warkworth. Warkworth is just 10 minutes' drive from Alnmouth, and can also be reached using the 518 bus. www.english-heritage.org.uk/warkworth-castle
Built by Victorian industrial magnate William Armstrong, Cragside House was hugely innovative and was the first house in Britain to be lit by electric light. Now managed by the National Trust, the house and gardens are a fascinating visit. Cragside is around 40 minutes' drive from Alnmouth. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cragside
Seaton Delaval Hall
Seaton Delaval Hall is a fine stately home, designed by John Vambrugh and completed in 1728. Following an extensive fundraising appeal it has recently been purchased by the National Trust. The hall is around 40 minutes' drive from Alnmouth. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/seaton-delaval-hall
The vibrant city of Newcastle is always bustling with activity and is famed for its shopping and lively nightlife. The new Baltic arts centre and Sage Gallery are well worth a visit. Newcastle is just under an hour's drive from Alnmouth, and can also be reached by hourly local bus.
Around 1½ hours drive from Nether Grange, Hadrian’s Wall remains a powerful symbol of the Roman Empire. The most dramatic section is from Once Brewed to Housteads Roman Fort and a walk here enables you to see some of the best preserved sections at close quarters. Two museums of note are the Roman Army Museum near Walltown you can gain an insight into the daily lives of Roman soldiers, and Vindolanda Roman Fort with its collection of rare Roman artefacts. www.visithadrianswall.co.uk
Alnmouth Village Golf Club
This links course if located right in front of Nether Grange. www.alnmouthvillagegolfclub.co.uk
Barter Books has been dubbed the British Library of secondhand bookshops and is located in a handsome old Victorian railway station in Alnwick.
Cragside House image © National Trust/Graeme Peacock, Seaton Delaval Hall image ©National Trust Images/John Hammond
Travel to Alnmouth
Our address is: Nether Grange, Alnmouth, Alnwick, Northumberland NE66 2RZ
The nearest railway station is Alnmouth, on the main line between Newcastle and Edinburgh. For train times and general rail enquiries visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or call 03457 484950 (from outside the UK call +44 20 7278 5240).
The 1 mile journey from Alnmouth railway station takes approximately 5 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £6. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Nether Grange Manager.
Take the A1 to Alnwick. Exit on the A1068 heading towards Alnwick. At the roundabout turn right (not well signed) and follow the A1068 towards Alnmouth. After 2¾ miles go straight ahead at the first roundabout then left at the second roundabout onto the B1338. As you approach Alnmouth cross the bridge, then turn right at the roundabout into the centre of the village. Turn left into Pease’s Lane. Nether Grange is on the left. Please note that Nether Grange does not have a car park, however free parking available on the streets around Nether Grange.
Travelling from overseas
There is a local airport at Newcastle which is served by European flights, and UK regional flights from London. From here take the metro to Newcastle Central station, then on by train to Alnmouth - a straightforward journey taking just over 1 hour.
Manchester Airport has a much wider range of long-haul flights. There are trains every hour from the airport to Alnmouth with one change at Newcastle. Allow 3½ hours to Alnmouth - see www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
Flying to London Heathrow airport is another option, but has a longer onward train journey - allow 5 hours to reach Alnmouth. From Heathrow first take the Piccadilly line Underground train to London Kings Cross station. From here take a train to Alnmouth - see www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
Patrick has been a leader for HF Holidays since 2003. He has led walking holidays in the UK from St Ives in Cornwall to the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland. He holds the Hill and Moorland Leader Award, which he gained at Plas y Brenin, the National Mountain Centre in Wales.
After a career in the Royal Navy, he moved into countryside management and delivered a wide programme of countryside projects, first in Hertfordshire and then in Swindon, where as a member of the Community Forest team, he oversaw the planting and establishment of over one million trees.
Now based in Northumberland where he runs his own business, he has an intimate knowledge of the Northumberland Coast, the hills and valleys of the Northumberland National Park and the countryside between the two. With a strong interest in the wildlife, wild landscapes and history of the Borders, he is always happy to share that knowledge with guests on their HF Holidays' break.
When he is not leading guided walks, he can be found walking up a hill somewhere in the Northumberland National Park, or heading out along the remarkable Northumberland Coast on the lookout for more adventures in the great outdoors.
Dates & Prices
We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.
Prices are per person
- Premium single room: £15 per night
- Premium twin/double room: £10 per person per night
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person