An easy circular walk from Alwinton; taking in the ruins of the castle at Harbottle and then up to the Drake Stone in the Harbottle Hills. Descend to Harbottle Lake and return via the forest path. Great views on a clear day.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
Park at the car park in Alwinton where there are toilets. £2 for a full day in August 2019. There are also some free parking spaces on the right as you drive into the village.
(D/A) From the car park, turn left and walk through the village, bearing rightwards and following the road to cross the bridge. Ignore the road on the left and continue to the Church at Low Alwinton. You will see a track on the left.
(1) Take the track (Park House) past some holiday cottages, pass an interesting and well preserved lime kiln (information board) and continue gently upwards to pass Park House. Go through a field and follow the obvious track to the edge of the wood, walk with the wood on your left, go through a second gate and the start to descend to pass through more woodland (can be muddy). Continue along the track until it has a tarmac surface. Look out for a wooden signpost on the left, pointing back the way that you have come from. Opposite this is a path to a bridge.
(2) Turn right and take the path over the bridge and past the gates to and the garden wall of the most recent castle. The minor road enters Harbottle Village. Continue straight on through the village on the footpath passing the school land village hall on the right. Leave the village and walk to the car park for Harbottle Castle.
(3) Turn right into the car park and pass through the gate following the path across the field and up the motte to the ruins of the castle.
(4) Good views of the Harbottle Hills and the Drake Stone. Return to the car park.
(3) Turn right and walk along the road (no footpath), passing The Old Manse on the left. After this, you will come to a car park on the left.
(5) Walk into the car park and take the signposted track to the Drake Stone, curving uphill through the trees. Pass through a gate and follow the path through the heather. Keep looking back the views are good. Take the path on the left to the gate to the Drake Stone.
(6) Walk around it or dare to take the easy way up the slab facing you as you arrive. From the Drake Stone, pick up the path through the heather which leads to a good view over Harbottle Lake. Descend to the lake and climb over a stile to follow the path just above the lakeside. You will come to the end of the lake beside a wire fence and yellow marker arrows.
(7) Turn right and ascend gently towards the forest. Enter the forest and follow the path which runs in a straight line, de-marked in places by old concrete fence posts. This path can be muddy and you might have to take minor detours to avoid the worst bits. The path exits the forest at a good track.
(8) Turn right onto the good track and cross a cattle grid. Follow the good track (good views) descending gently downhill to the road.
(9) Turn left at the road, cross the bridge and return to Alwinton (D/A) passing (1)
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 525ft - Car park
1 : mi 0.49 - alt. 486ft
2 : mi 1.64 - alt. 463ft
3 : mi 2.18 - alt. 499ft
4 : mi 2.36 - alt. 545ft
5 : mi 2.78 - alt. 538ft
6 : mi 3.3 - alt. 896ft - Drake Stone
7 : mi 3.61 - alt. 902ft - Harbottle Lake
8 : mi 4.22 - alt. 837ft
9 : mi 4.76 - alt. 551ft
D/A : mi 5.52 - alt. 525ft
There is a pub in Alwinton and another in Harbottle. Both serve food and refreshments.
This walk has some muddy sections and the forest path can remain muddy even after a few dry days. Boots would be my recommendation.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
The remains of Harbottle Castle are interesting and the castle played an important role in medieval times.
The Drake Stone is a rock climbing venue and the easiest way up/down is graded as a moderate rock climb. This is the easiest grade but it is still a hands and feet scramble. Only attempt it if you are happy to do so and know that you can downclimb.
Global average : 4.83/5
Number of opinions : 2
Description quality : 5/5
Routemap quality : 5/5
Walk interest : 4.5/5
Global average : 4.67 / 5
Date of walk
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Good
Lovely views back down the valley while walking and a great panorama from Drake stone. We walked this in very cold, bright weather. It was icy on all of the slopes and Harbottle lake was frozen. Luckily the cold helped the forest part of the walk, which would have been really muddy in warmer weather. Took perhaps 2 hr and 15 mins rather than 3 hours, including stops to admire the views, but all 5 walkers are adults.
Global average : 5 / 5
Date of walk
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good
Able to start this walk from our accommodation. Good pathways. Getting to the Drake Stone was quite tough and no real path to follow, however we made it to the top.
The hills in the southern part of the Northumberland National Park offer some fine walking. This route starts from the small village of Alwinton and follows paths, tracks and quiet country lanes for the most part. However some sections are pathless and a good sense of direction is necessary. The walk is best avoided if low cloud is covering the hills. Also do be prepared for some boggy areas especially after rain.
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.
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