The Shepherds Cairn is a memorial to two shepherds who lost their lives in the winter of 1962. They were found just half a mile from their remote home at Ewartly Shank. Because of this event the National Park Voluntary Rangers set up the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team - a volunteer organisation that turns out in all weather to help save lives.
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.
(D/A) Set off along the road, past the Church and former vicarage with its adjoining Pele Tower. Turn right before the cattle grid and follow the track signed Shank House and Low Bleakhope, beside the vicarage garden wall. Go through the gate and on up-hill keeping the wall on your left to another gate.
(1) Continue through this gate, and carry on alongside a conifer wood on the right, carry on through a wicket gate into a narrow fenced area, next to mixed woodland. Continue up-hill to the wicket gate in the fence ahead.
(2) Go through the gate and bear right, heading up-hill to reach the track on the skyline in approximately 200metres. Follow the track to the top of the hill, as the track bears right, walk straight on along a sunken grassy track, descending gradually to the Coppath Burn. Keep to the track as it crosses the burn and bear left towards the field wall ahead. Make for the gate.
(3) Cross the ladder stile by the gate, and continue along Salter’s Road (track) this can be wet in places. After passing the sheepfold on your right, continue on along this track for approximately 250m.
(4) At the quad track crossroads (marked by a stone) turn left, after approximately 120m the track splits again, follow the right hand fork up onto High Knowes. Continue down the quad track to the Shepherds Cairn Memorial Stone (O.S. NT 967 127). After viewing the stone carry on down to the road.
(5) For a shorter walk of 4.5miles / 7km - on reaching the road turn left and follow it back to Alnham.
(6) For a longer walk (6 miles/10km) please turn over and follow the directions. On reaching the road turn right, for a short distance. At the fingerpost turn left, signed Biddlestone and follow the track across the hill to the wicket gate.
(7) Pass through the gate and continue carefully down to the burn. Cross the burn above the small waterfalls, taking care in wet weather. Once over the burn continue up the steep narrow path, passing what was once Tod Stones farmstead. The way is indistinct here and can be wet in places, but continue on to a stile in the fence ahead.
(8) Cross over the stile, and carry on to join a well worn farm track. Carry on round the side of the hill, passing a u-shaped conifer plantation on your right, making for Hazeltonrig Burn and the next conifer plantation. Pass through the plantation using the stiles provided.
(9) Once through the plantation turn left, and look for the stile ahead. Continue straight across the next 2 fields to the conifer plantation. Follow the path through the trees. Once out of the plantation, cross the stile into the field. Turn half right and continue down the field to the rough farm track. Cross the track and head down to the wicket gate in the corner of the fence. Follow this path down to the bridge keeping the trees on your left, once over the bridge continue on past the old farm steading and bungalow.
(10) Approximately 70m past the bungalow turn left up the grassy track, which winds uphill to the gate. Go through the gate and keeping to the track continue on across improved pasture and through another 2 gates. After about 100m you reach the fourth gate by the wall end, with the church in sight, continue straight ahead down the permissive trackback to your car. (D/A)
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 531ft - Car park
1 : mi 0.21 - alt. 653ft - Gate
2 : mi 0.62 - alt. 879ft - Wicket gate
3 : mi 1.35 - alt. 1037ft - Gate
4 : mi 1.78 - alt. 1181ft - Quad track
5 : mi 2.35 - alt. 1171ft - Road
6 : mi 2.39 - alt. 1168ft - Fingerpost
7 : mi 2.93 - alt. 1079ft - Wicket gate
8 : mi 3.3 - alt. 1053ft - Stile
9 : mi 4.11 - alt. 1010ft - Plantation
10 : mi 5.11 - alt. 676ft - Bungalow
D/A : mi 6.1 - alt. 531ft - Car park
From Rothbury: Take the B6341 to Thropton.Turn right, signed Netherton. Follow this road to Netherton. Turn right at the end of the village and right again following signs to Alnham. Once in the hamlet of Alnham turn left to the Church.
Car Parking: Alnham Church - park on the grass verge close to the wall, please leave all gateways and access clear
Nearest National Park Centre: The Coquetdale Centre in Rothbury
Terrain: Grassy tracks and paths, some steep ground, boggy in wet weather
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
Food is available at Clennell Hall, the Rose and Thistle in Alwinton and in Powburn. Further tourist information, shops and services are available in Wooler, Alnwick and Rothbury.
Take time out to see Linhope Spout, a 60 foot (18m) chute of water, which lands in a plunge pool 6ft (2m) wide and 16ft (5m) deep.
Take an invigorating walk to Cochrane Pike to see some spectacular views. This walk takes you through moorland sheep country surrounded by the sounds of the curlew, oyster catcher, skylark and meadow pipit. You may see buzzard or kestrel, or the recently-arrived red kite in the skies, and the heron in the river valley.
Leisurely walk along quiet valley roads, suitable for less abled users/pushchairs, from Ingram along the River Breamish and past Reaveley Farm.
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.
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.
A pleasant stroll alongside the River Coquet and into Rothbury village. Suitable for a variety of users. Due to width/surface restrictions on some parts, the route is not suitable for pushchairs/wheelchairs, although the riverside can be accessed by these users from the village centre. Be aware: parts of the route may flood when the river level is high.
An easy to follow trail in the Simonside Forest, aimed at families, with plenty to look out for and do along the route.
For more walks, use our search engine.
The GPS track and description are the property of the author.