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WALK: A day out in the heart of Northumberland

The route of the Spirit Bus walk.
The route of the Spirit Bus walk.

The new Spirit Bus service has really opened up parts of Northumberland for the walker. This month I have incorporated the Spirit Bus into a short linear walk above Rothbury.

With access from Alnmouth, Alnwick, Morpeth and Rothbury, using this local bus service makes for a great day out in the heart of Northumberland.

Spectacular views from the wallk.

Spectacular views from the wallk.

Catch the Spirit Bus to Thropton. From Thropton walk back down the footpath heading towards Rothbury.

As you reach the road bridge you will find a small footbridge to the left of it. Cross the footbridge and head up the hill towards the Cross Keys public house.

Walk in front of the pub (or call in and have a quick drink if you are not driving) and continue heading towards Rothbury.

After a few yards you have a small metal railing on your right, turn left here, leaving the road and climb up some steps.

Spectacular views from the wallk.

Spectacular views from the wallk.

On your right you will see the remains of an old pill box that was built to overlook the bridge.

As you reach the top of the steps continue up the road and as you reach the T junction at the top, turn left.

You are walking up Physic Lane. Legend has it that the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem had a hospital at the bottom of Physic Lane during the 13th and 14th centuries.

They probably gathered wild flowers, herbs and rose hips which are a very good source of vitamin C, calcium, phosphorous and iron. The Knights may have gathered the rose hips here to make a tonic to fend off coughs, and treat sore throats and bleeding gums. The leaves of elder, which also grow here were used in an ointment to ease swellings and bruises.

The drinking fountain on Physic Lane, Thropton.

The drinking fountain on Physic Lane, Thropton.

As you walk up the lane you will see a wonderful drinking fountain on the left and then you reach and pass through a gate at the end of the houses.

Continue up the lane and ignore the paths either side until you reach and go through another gate.

Pass through it and you initially have a wall on your right with a wood behind it.

The route you are following is part of the route the Cragside Challenge Walk takes in June every year. This 13-mile Challenge Walk takes place at the end of the Rothbury Walking Festival. So if you fancy a challenge in 2015, I would certainly take a look at this.

Follow the path as it follows the wall on your right-hand side. At the top you reach and go through a large wooden gate. Once you have passed through the gate, turn left and continue to follow the wall on your right for a short while before this bears off.

Follow the main path passing a large tree on your left and eventually you reach the Carriageway Drive.

Once you reach the Carriageway Drive (wide track) turn right along it.

After a little while Simonside can be seen on the opposite side of the valley. The distinctive flat top is very easily recognisable and as it stands away from the true Cheviots, it is very well known in the walking world.

The Carriageway Drive is reasonably level as it was made for the horse-and-carriage era, it winds around so that it keeps to level ground.

Continue along the carriage drive for some distance and you will pass some communication towers on your right.

After a little while you then reach and go through a small kissing gate located to the right of a large wooden gate as you enter the woods.

The path then gradually rises up as you pass over Addycombe Hill. Ignore the footpath going off to your right, but stay to the main carriageway which narrows a little in a few places.

As you drop down you go through a few hairpin bends. Stay on the main track ignoring all other paths. Eventually the trees stop on your right and you follow a fence, with a field the far side of it.

From here you are again treated to another fine view of Rothbury, but this time from a very different angle.

As you continue on you reach a large tall marker post with a red band around the top, this post is marking the route of the gas main into Rothbury.

At this post turn through the kissing gate on your right and follow the fence on your left, dropping down through the field. Pass through the next kissing gate and follow the path down to a small wooden gate which then drops down some steps to the track and turn right along it.

Continue along the track and after a little while it turns to asphalt underfoot and you start to get some houses up to your right.

Take the footpath on your left (Public Footpath – Rothbury 1⁄4 ) and follow the gravelled fence-lined path as it drops down steeply to Rothbury village. At the bottom you go through a small kissing gate and after passing a couple of bungalows on your left you reach the road. Turn right along it.

As you walk down the road you have Addycombe Cottages on your left which are the old workers’ cottages for the staff on Cragside Estate.

The road drops steeply and bears around to the left before reaching the T-junction.

Turn right and you will see the bus stop straight away, this is located outside the Queen’s Head Hotel. If needs be you can catch the bus back to Alnwick, Alnmouth or Rothbury (and lots of place in between).

Walk details

Distance: 4.5 miles

Maps: Explorer maps OL42 and 332

Walking time: 2 hours

Start – Thropton – Spirit Bus stop.

Finish – Rothbury – Spirit Bus stop.

You can view the Spirit Bus timetable online at www.spiritbuses.co.uk - or pick up a bus timetable from your local Tourist Information Centre.

For more information about Shepherd’s Walks, visit {http://shepherdswalks.co.uk|shepherdswalks.co.uk|Link to the Shepherd’s Walks website.