Whittingham to Clennell Hall – 7 July 2018

We go to this area of the Cheviots quite often considering all the different areas we walk in. This will be the sixth time which puts it in the top five locations in Northumberland only superseded by Wooler, Rothbury, Greenhead and Allendale. You can understand how Wooler and Rothbury might be at the top of the list but it is surprising to see Greenhead and Allendale making it to the top of the Northumberland locations.

Our usual finish for this area is Alwinton but this time around we thought we should try somewhere new so we are finishing north east of Alwinton at Clennell Hall which was once a manor house built in the 13th century by the Clennell family but is now a country hotel. Another difference is that we usually approach Alwinton from Rothbury but this time we are going past Morpeth on the A1 and then onto the A697 before turning left and heading towards Whittingham and then going southwest on a minor road which comes out close to Alwinton.

This provides opportunities for walks to go off in a northerly direction into the Cheviot Hills. The first drop-off is an 11-mile route that starts east of Netherton and heads towards Alnham and Salter’s Road before swinging west to visit the Shepherds Cairn. This cairn was erected in 2007 in memory of two shepherds, Jock Scott and Willie Middlemas who died in a snow blizzard in November 1962 while trying to reach the farm at Ewartly Shank, the farm is not much more than half a mile from where they were found. As a result of their deaths the following year the National Park Wardens formed a Search and Rescue Team which today is called the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team. From the cairn, the route goes south to Biddlestone but then does a loop back into the hills up to the derelict farm of Old Rookland and then goes south-west to come into Clennell Hall via the Iron Age Fort on top of Camp Knowe.

The second route to get off the coach is the 11.5-mile route which starts from the road west of Netherton and goes directly uphill heading towards the trig point on Wholhope Hill and then north again to the cairn on the top of Cushat Law which at 615 metres is the sixth highest hill in the Cheviots. From there the route heads south into Kidland Forest which is slowly being felled and past Memmer Kirk and Milkhope and finishes by coming along the bridleway beside the River Alwin.

The last two routes get off the coach at the same place just outside Alwinton and head north on Clennell Street. The 6.5-mile route goes as far as the ruin at Wholehope and turns off towards Kidlandlee while the 9.5-mile route goes further north to Whiteburnshank before turning south along a forest track. Both routes eventually join the bridleway beside the River Alwin and come south all the way to Clennell Hall.

It is always good walking in this area of the Cheviots but apart from a few walkers and the occasional farmer passing by it seems that nothing much has ever happened here. But not so long ago the estate at Kidlandlee and farms like Whiteburnshank and Milkhope where all so busy. The website linked here gives a good overview of the life of these places. Go further back in time and this website provides lots of information on Bronze and Iron Age settlements all around Alwinton including Clennell Street and Camp Knowe. For a really interesting series of stories of what it was like living in the youth hostel of Wholehope in the 1950s/60s have a look at this website and click on the menu item Wholehope.

The image used for this post was taken on the last visit to this area of the Cheviots in June 2014, it was taken on the hillside above the River Coquet heading towards the farm at Shillmoor. It looks as if that day in June was as sunny as this one coming up in July. If you fancy a walk in the Cheviots with a bit of history thrown in how about getting in touch on the Contact Page. You can also find the walk descriptions here and the GPS routes here.



Clennell Hall near Alwinton Weather

Walk No. 14Whittingham to Alwinton7 July 2018
Area: NorthumberlandMap: OL 16

6.5 miles Moderate
Start Minor Road Grid Ref: NT 922060
North to Alwinton – Clennel Street – Wholehope – Kidlandlee – South West on Footpath and Bridleway – River Alwin Valley – Clennel Hall

9.5 miles Moderate
Start Minor Road Grid Ref: NT 922060
North to Alwinton – Clennel Street – Wholehope – Whiteburnshank – South East on Track – South on Bridleway – River Alwin Valley – Clennel Hall

11 miles Moderate
Start Minor Road Grid Ref: NT 004088
North on Bridleway to Alnham – Salter’s Road (Track) – Shepherd’s Cairn – Pigdon’s Leap – Hazeltonrig Burn – Biddlestone – Biddlestone Chapel – Old Rookland – Clennel Hill – Camp Knowe – Clennel Hall

11.5 miles Hard
Start Minor Road Grid Ref: NT 948073
North on Minor Road and Bridleway to Loundon Hill – Wether Cairn – Cushat Law – Cushat Cleugh – Memmer Kirk – Milkhope – River Alwin Valley – Clennel Hall

Pub: Clennel Hall Telephone 01669 650377