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Rothbury and the carriageways of Cragside Estate – 28th April 2019

For our April walk we gathered towards the north of our region, next to the river Coquet in Rothbury, Northumberland.  This small town with its central green area is attractively located close to the Simonside hills and the Cheviots, and several participants arrived early enough to spend a bit of time exploring the small town centre and to collect provisions for the day.  Once again we were pleased to welcome newcomers to our group as well as enthusiastic regulars, and we made time to renew acquaintances and swop our latest news before setting off, initially uphill where we rapidly gained good views across the valley above the town.

The origins of Rothbury lie in its strategic position as a bridging point across the river Coquet and in its attractiveness as a centre for trading in cattle and wool from the surrounding villages.  Nowadays it’s a popular centre for walking in the Northumberland national park.  It’s also close to the Victorian mansion known as Cragside, which was built for the Tyneside industrialist Sir William (Lord) Armstrong and now a major National Trust property.  We didn’t actually see the house on our walk, but for most of the way we walked through the extensive estate, with features including some of the lakes that connected with the world’s first hydroelectric power scheme for which Armstrong was renowned.  We also saw some of the rhododendrons for which the estate is famous, although it would be another month or so before the flowers came into full bloom.

Climbing gradually we eventually found ourselves following part of a carriageway which wound around through attractive glades and wooded areas as well as stretches of open heather moorland.  We could imagine this carriageway might have been used as a way to introduce visitors and perhaps industrial clients to the splendours of the Northumberland landscapes, and we enjoyed the widening views across upper Coquetdale towards the higher Cheviot Hills and towards the Scottish border.  At a halfway point we stopped a while for our lunchtime sandwiches.

We reached a large boulder perched beside the path which marked the start of a steep descent back towards the town.  On crossing the river footbridge we arrived back at our starting point where we dispersed with anticipation of our next event.

Thanks are due to all who joined us for the event and contributed to another enjoyable walk in the Northumberland countryside.

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