Sweethope Loughs  to Bellingham- 10 November 2018

Take a look at a map of Northumberland and Bellingham is not quite on the western edge of the county but there is only Kielder Forest separating the village from the Scottish border which is not much more than 15 miles away. You might wonder how a village as large as Bellingham might survive but go back to the 12th century and St Cuthberts Church was being built among the mainly farming community. The church is quite near St Cuthbert’s Well which was said to have been found and consecrated by St Cuthbert.

The well featured in a libellus, or little book, which was written by Reginald of Durham and kept near Cuthbert’s shrine in Durham Cathedral. In the book, Reginald describes three miracles associated with the well, oddly enough they all concern one man called Sproich who was employed as a bridge-builder. In the first miracle, after Sproich’s daughter Eda stays away from the church to sew a dress on the feast day of St Lawrence, her left hand becomes paralysed, clutching the dress. She is miraculously cured by an apparition of St Cuthbert after drinking water from the well. In the second, on the occasion of Eda’s marriage, Sproich’s cow is seized in payment by a bailiff of the local lord and placed with another tenant. whose house is later struck by lightning. The cow is miraculously spared. In the third, a thief called Walter of Flanders and his accomplice, who have stolen Sproich’s axe, are fatally attacked by the head and the handle of the axe.

Quite an odd little collection of miracles but it might have been enough to secure a constant supply of pilgrims over the years who all followed the cult of St Cuthbert and were not adverse to travelling many miles to visit the sites associated with St Cuthbert.

It may have settled down over the next few hundred years but then in 1833, a large quantity of iron was found just outside the village at Hareshaw Linn. By 1848 the iron mine was exhausted but in that 15 years seventy coke ovens, twenty-four roasting kilns for calcining the iron ore and all the sheds, stables and stores were being worked and maintained by a huge workforce that needed to be fed, clothed and housed in and around Bellingham. This was one village that was not on the edge at that moment in time.

There was even a railway line and station at Bellingham, it arrived in 1861, a little too late for the iron works, but it served the village for nearly one hundred years and closed in October 1956. Since that date, Kielder Water and the surrounding forest has become a well-known tourist destination and as Bellingham is on the main route to Kielder it is still attracting a constant supply of visitors.

As the nights close in Bellingham becomes our first visit to Northumberland for the winter season. We have four walks planned all coming in from the east with three of the walks getting off not far from the main A696 road. The 13-mile and 12-routes doing a loop to the south and north respectively and the 11-mile route going more or less westwards towards Bellingham. The 7-mile route is going to pick up the 13-mile route closer to Bellingham and follow the same route into the village along the River North Tyne.

The image for this post was taken at the far end of Hareshaw Linn where the steps lead down to view the 30 foot waterfall.

While Bellingham is not so distant today as it once might have seemed, if you follow the old footpaths westwards you still get the feeling that you are walking right on the edge of a sparsely populated part of the country. If you fancy a walk on the edge how about contacting us on our Contact Page? Or, you could download the walk description from here and the GPS routes from here.


Bellingham Weather

Walk No. 23Sweethope Loughs to Bellingham10 November 2018
Area: NorthumberlandMap: OL 42

7 Miles Moderate
Start: Minor Road Grid Ref NY896815
South and west on Permissive Path and Bridleway – Heugh – Brocks Haugh – Redesmouth – Redesmouth Cottages – Footpath along River North Tyne – Bellingham

11 Miles Moderate
Start: Cornhills Grid Ref NY967840
Berryhills – Hawick Farm – Sweethope – Lake House – Great Wanney Crag – Ridsdale – Broomhope – Crossing Cottage – Rede Bridge – Footpath to Bellingham

12 Miles Moderate
Start: Herpath House Grid Ref NY982854
Blackhalls – Ray Demesne – Ray Fell – Whetstone House – Stiddlehill – The Broom – Broadgate – Cragg Farm – Calf Close – Crossing Cottage – Rede Bridge – Footpath to Bellingham

13 miles Moderate
Start: Cornhills Grid Ref NY967840
Berryhills – Hawick Farm – Sweethope – South on Bridleway – West on Footpath to White House – Whiteside – Tone Inn – Tone Hall – Heugh – Brocks Haugh – Redesmouth – Redesmouth Cottages – Footpath along River North Tyne – Bellingham

Pub: Cheviot Hotel Telephone No. 01434 220696