Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom
September 26, 2005
Although the trail is for the most part easy to follow and not too challenging, there are a couple of difficult sections. The first hour of the walk is pretty much a steady but continuous climb and it’s not hard to go slightly off track around Westhill, where farm buildings now stand near the site of an Iron Age settlement (if you reach the farm you‘ve gone too far, so double back, take the first gate and continue up the hillside until you reach the stone stile). There’s no choice but to clamber over a couple of stone stiles just before you reach Physic Lane - named either after a doctor who left his bag in the lane or herb collecting members of the Knights Templar depending on your preference - while there are also a few sharp stones on the paths and a treacherous downhill stretch through the woods just before you re-enter the village so make sure you’re wearing shoes with a good tread.
At the halfway point of the hike, the route flattens out over the moorland and a few large rocks sticking out of the heather make excellent but exposed picnic spots. From here, you can see the Cheviots looping along the horizon to the north and enclosed fields split by trees and hedgerows stretching out southwards to the brooding Simonside Hills. With the village hidden by the fold of the hill, the only sign of human activity are a couple of mobile phone masts, their concrete supports and metal fences making them every bit as bizarre as the rock formations on the other side of the path.
The whole hike takes around two and a half hours. There’s a small supermarket on Rothbury’s main street for picnic supplies, as well as several cafes if you prefer to eat in town.
From journal Over the Hills and Far Away: Adventures in Northumberland National Park