New Year in Northumberland

by backpackingbongos

During the New Year I was lucky enough to spend a week in a cottage deep in the wilds of Northumberland with Mrs Bongo. We were based in the tiny village of Greenhaugh, inside the National park itself and not too far from Kielder Water. It was a magically tranquil spot, seemingly miles from the hustle and bustle of modern life. It’s one of my favourite parts of the country. There are no huge rocky peaks or dramatic gorges, just miles of unspoilt moors, hidden valleys and an abundance of conifers! Not a single other hiker was spotted during the week. My kind of place. Here are a few brief words and some photos.


Collier Law – 516 metres

Collier Law actually sits over the border in County Durham, but to me the accent sounds the same. We did a small detour on the drive north and parked next to the Parkhead Station cafe on the moors above Stanhope. I don’t think that you could really class Collier Law as an exciting or even attractive hill. It was all tracks, quarries and masts. Reuben however thought it was great and I got a tick on one of my hill lists. The view once at the summit was extensive on the clear and crisp winters day.



Deadwater Fell – 571 metres & Peel Fell – 602 metres

After leaving a very snowy Nottingham behind it was rather disappointing to find that there was no snow in Northumberland. We had even taken the Bongo just in case 4WD was needed, sadly (really thankfully) it was not. They actually grit the roads up there, unlike the treacherous city streets we had left behind.

Corrina was happy to be left in bed on our first morning whilst I scooted off at the crack of dawn to bag a couple of remote hills just above Kielder village. I started the walk in freezing fog, everything glazed by a thick penetrating frost, the air perfectly still. Gaining height I was soon in the snowy forest, shifting mists giving teasing glimpses of the sun overhead. Suddenly I was above the fog, the sun shining hard but providing no warmth. Much of the day was spent crossing rough trackless ground, a covering of snow making things more difficult and hiding the bogs. The clouds flirted with me all day, often obscuring the hill tops, taking away the view from Peel Fell itself. I arrived back at Kielder shortly after dark, tired and happy and without seeing a person all day.














Padon hill – 379 Metres

I picked what I hoped would be a scenic but easy walk for Corrina. What could be easier than a stroll down an isolated lane and then a walk over the moors on the Pennine Way? This section of the Pennine Way was bloody awful, especially when it passed through the forest. There was no path as such, just saturated ground that tried to steal your boots. The flagstones of the Peak District would have been very welcome here. The views though were classic Northumberland, moors to the horizon and huge skies. Lunch was eaten whilst perched on a tussock.





Kielder Water

For such a large expanse of water it was a little bit underwhelming to be honest. Too many signs telling you where to go and what to do. We got off to a bad start when after paying for the car park we found the public loos were locked. Luckily there are plenty of trees to hide behind. We walked to one of the arty things that are dotted around the shore. The information board promised that inside the structure the lake would be reflected on the floor and we would be soothed by the sound of water. We went into a pitch black chamber and had a minor panic when the door jammed shut.

It then rained and even Reuben wanted to go back and sit next to the fire.




Roughside Moor

I fancied another big leg stretcher whilst in Northumberland, so I left Corrina a cup of tea next to the bed and buggered off again for the day. On the map my circuit just looked like a loop in a giant conifer plantation. In reality it was much more pleasant. My first destination was Roughside bothy, a place I vow never to spend the night. It is a horrid dark, damp place with evidence of the nefarious folk who frequent it at weekends. Most of them having graffitied their name somewhere. Far too close to the road and easily accessible.

The Chirdon Burn is a hidden gem. The river swollen after heavy rain passes through steep contours and plunges over Jerry’s Linn. An oasis amongst the monoculture of the forestry plantations.






22 Comments to “New Year in Northumberland”

  1. Another cracking post. It’s a fantastic part of the world. A bit of a hidden gem. The folk up there are some of the loveliest in the land.

  2. Love the Deadwater Fell photos especially. And I want to have a go at building one of those stone beehive huts!

  3. I remember us all having lunch in that wooden hut arty thing on the Deadwater Fell walk, last time we were up there. I’m sure Tilly found some extra food under it too, that someone else had left behind…
    Recognise most of those spots anyway, but not Paddon Hill. I deliberately did a detour through the forest when I did the Pennine Way, as I had heard how awful that stretch was!

    • I had a nice coffee break there too Chrissie. It would be rubbish though if the wind was coming from the south, there would be no shelter at all! You chose well to avoid the Pennine Way for that section just to the north of Paddon Hill.

  4. Don’t know if you got this far up the Chirdon Burn but Seven Linns is worth seeking out. Cracking spot for a swim in the summer.

  5. great pics even better with a sprinkling of the white stuff. roughside bothy is rough alright. next time your in area check out green bothy to the south its ok.

    • Yes rough in name and rough in nature! Not been to Green before. Spithope has been really nice the couple of times I have stayed there. Fancy paying Wainhope a visit as it is a reasonably long walk to get to.

  6. Nice new year trip. Better not let my wife rad this post. Leaving cups of tea by the bed before you bugger off. You’re making me look bad! 🙂

    • Oh bugger, not sure if bothies need that sort of promotion to be honest, better have a look at ones to avoid from now on!

  7. Excellent photos, as always, the power of the falls is evident in the last two photos especially all the wood piled up as well as the tannin coloured water. Would seem a good place to visit when all is quiet.

    • Cheers Roger. The river was raging that day after loads of heavy rain. There were some fair sized trees twisted in a heap at the bottom. Not somewhere to get swept up in.

  8. Amazing stuff James, cracking photos, looks fantastic winter weather as well.

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