Alwinton and the River Alwin

Alwinton and the River Alwin route is a favourite route with walkers, starting in Alwinton, that used to be one of many trackways in the border hills frequented in times past by cattle drovers, shepherds, pedlars and whiskey smugglers.

Technical sheet
No. 2817956
A Alwinton walk posted on 17/12/19 by Northumberland National Park. Update : 17/12/19
Calculated time Calculated time: 2h30[?]
Distance Distance : 4.48mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 502ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 482ft
Highest point Highest point : 997ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 522ft
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Alwinton
Starting point Starting point : N 55.35075° / W 2.128213°
Download : -


(D/A) From the car park turn left along the road heading into Alwinton. At the T-junction cross the village green, and cross over the footbridge. Turn left onto a narrow tarmac road signed ‘Clennell Street/Border Ridge’.

(1) Follow the road until the tarmac ends, then keep on the track as it heads uphill. Ignore the gate and stile to the right, keep on up the farm track.

(2) Cross over the ladder stile and follow the track, skirting around the right of Castle Hills, an ancient Iron Age settlement.

(3) As the main track (Clennell Street) winds round to the left near the top of the hill, take right at the junction to a wicket gate, approx 50 metres away. Go through the gate and bear left across the field to the next gate. Go through this gate and follow the well worn path to the right along the hillside.

(4) Continue on this path passing a stone sheepfold down to your right. At a junction of many tracks, head downhill towards the forest corner.

(5) On reaching the bottom of the hill, go through the field gate onto the pink gravel forest road and turn right. Keep following the road, crossing the River Alwin three times, until you reach a crossroads.

(6) At the crossroads, follow the track round to the right passing through the field gate, keeping the dry stone wall to your left. Cross over the cattle grid and turn right over the footbridge.

(7) Once over the footbridge, turn left up the path. Go over a step stile then continue straight ahead walking along the headland to the stile at the opposite side of the field. Cross the stile and carry on along the edge of the field keeping the fence to your left.

(8) Go over a ladder stile and turn left onto the farm track that you came up. Head back downhill to Alwinton and along the road back to the car park. (D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 522ft - National Park Car Park
1 : mi 0.21 - alt. 548ft
2 : mi 0.52 - alt. 686ft - Castle Hills
3 : mi 0.9 - alt. 906ft
4 : mi 1.36 - alt. 965ft
5 : mi 2.01 - alt. 722ft - River Alwin
6 : mi 3.42 - alt. 581ft - Crossroads
7 : mi 3.64 - alt. 587ft - Footbridge
8 : mi 4.03 - alt. 643ft - Ladder stile
D/A : mi 4.48 - alt. 522ft - National Park Car Park

Useful Information

Start & Parking: Alwinton - National Park Car Park (Toilets here)

Local Services: Alwinton and Rothbury

Terrain: Footpaths, tracks and roads with some short, sharp ascents, footbridges stiles and gates

Directions - To the walk start point
From Rothbury: Take the B6341 out of Rothbury and through Thropton. At the small farm/hamlet of Flotterton turn right, signed ‘Alwinton’. Keep following the road, through Harbottle and into Alwinton. The car park is through the village and on the right. Toilets are in the car park.

Public Transport Information
T: 0871 2002233

Local facilities
Food and refreshments are available in Alwinton at the Rose & Thistle which is also a National Park Information Point.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

Watch out!
There can often be timber and large agricultural vehicles on the roads and tracks around Alwinton so please take care. Military aircraft and loud noises can often be heard from the nearby Otterburn Ranges Ministry of Defence Training Area.

Points of interest
Kidland Forest was planted in the Second World War and is managed by the Forestry Commission. Tree felling has taken place over the years so please be aware that what you see on the ground may differ from that on the OS map.

Alwinton Border Shepherd’s Show takes place on the second Saturday of October every year and is well worth a visit.

A little bit of history
Clennell Street is one of many Drove Roads in the Cheviot Hills which connected the market towns of Morpeth to Kelso across the border in Scotland. Clennell Street was used by cattle drovers and shepherds, pedlars and whisky smugglers. The remote tributary valleys of the Upper Coquet were used to distil illicit whisky during the 1800s. Smugglers like Black Rory made their whisky and sold it illegally at the remote farms up the valley. Excise-men would patrol the hills, stopping and searching carts and travellers for contraband liquor.

The ancient hillforts of Castle Hills and Camp Knowe look as if they stand guard over Alwinton and the entrance
to Clennell Street.

Wildlife to look out for
Wildflowers grow abundantly along the grass verges leading into the village of Alwinton. Meadow and wood cranesbill, knapweed and meadowsweet flower from June to September. They are huge favourites of all kinds of butterflies including common blues and meadow browns as well as bumblebees including the buff-tailed bumblebee.

Birds that you may see on the moorland include kestrel, buzzard, wheatear and whinchat. Alongside the river lookout for heron and dipper.

Sheep that you will see in this area include white-faced Cheviots which have been bred in these bleak, windswept hills for over 600 years and the horned Scottish Blackface. The circular stone pens that you may see are ‘stells’ which shelter the sheep in the winter blizzards.

Opinions and comments


Global average : 4.67/5
Number of opinions : 4
Description quality : 4.5/5
Routemap quality : 4.75/5
Walk interest : 4.75/5

on Wed 23 Jun 2021 17:03:11 CEST

Global average : 4 / 5

Date of walk : 23/06/21
Description quality : Good
Routemap quality : Good
Walk interest : Good

Quite a bit climbing to begin with to over 1000 ft. Good views throughout this section. Following the forest road road return leg is easy, if somewhat tedious, walking but views of river and valley are enjoyable. Rather than turning at crossroads followed gpx track which took us to a footbridge to cross the river a little further on.

on Sun 06 Jun 2021 15:36:09 CEST

Global average : 4.67 / 5

Date of walk : 16/05/21
Description quality : Good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

A great walk over the hills with lovely views of the Alwin valley. Relatively easy walking.
But we missed the footbridge near Clennell hall, which considerably lengthened our walk back to Alwinton. The crossroads mentioned prior to this is a crossing of tracks not paved roads.

on Mon 23 Nov 2020 09:06:43 CET

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 22/11/20
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

We did this walk on a lovely bright autumn day and the hills and scenery were superb. It was a really great walk. The first part of it is uphill but is easy walking and then you descent to an unmade road before returning over fields. You enjoy spectacular views especially on the first half of the walk but all is good as the terrain is varied.

on Sun 08 Nov 2020 17:44:04 CET

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 14/10/20
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

Uphill to start and very exposed so suggest taking a warm hat. Difficult to find correct path to descend but basically need to turn right at the top of the hill and head towards the pink forest pathway, you will then easily find your way back to the starting point. The walk was enjoyable but scenery nothing special.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.