The Shepherds Cairn

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.

Technical sheet
No. 2816573
A Alnham walk posted on 16/12/19 by Northumberland National Park. Update : 17/12/19
Calculated time Calculated time: 3h30[?]
Distance Distance : 6.1mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 843ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 837ft
Highest point Highest point : 1280ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 531ft
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Alnham
Starting point Starting point : N 55.392506° / W 2.015948°
Download : -


(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)

Waypoints :
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

Useful Information

Getting there
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.

During the walk or to do/see around

Local facilities
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.

Opinions and comments


Global average : 4/5
Number of opinions : 2
Description quality : 4/5
Routemap quality : 4/5
Walk interest : 4/5

on Wed 12 May 2021 18:29:51 CEST

Global average : 4 / 5

Date of walk : 09/05/21
Description quality : Good
Routemap quality : Good
Walk interest : Good

It should be noted that this isn't the dog friendliest walk - with lots of stiles. Also the section from Point 6 is quite tricky and if the mist came down could be a bit disconcerting given the boggy terrain and the lack of waymarkers.

on Mon 26 Apr 2021 16:51:53 CEST

Global average : 4 / 5

Date of walk : 04/04/21
Description quality : Good
Routemap quality : Good
Walk interest : Good

A varied walk, in very windy !!!conditions

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