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A journey to the College Valley.

Not many people have heard of the College Valley and still fewer have ever explored it. There are over 12,000 acres of wilderness which encompass the Cheviot itself as well as some of the most beautiful scenery in the North of England.

The approach to the Valley.

We start our journey at the market town of Wooler which appropriately calls itself the gateway to the Cheviots. Taking the A697 north for Coldstream you leave the town behind. To your right the Millfield plain stretches towards Berwick. This used the bed of a large lake in prehistoric times. Now it is a fertile and beautiful area. If you look to your right you will soon see the “battle stone” standing proud just off the road. This is said to commemorate the battle of Homildon Hill  back in September 1402. A lesser know conflict than the one at Flodden which is just a few miles to the north and some 111 years later in 1513.

Shortly you will come to Akeld which is recognisable through the “Flags” as the locals call it. Here you turn left onto the B6351 signed for Kirk Yetholm.  Akeld has a small bastle house just behind the main village.

Yeavering is the next village. Well known as the site of a Saxon Royal palace and the hill to the left of you which is Yeavering Bell with its substantial hill fort.

Ad Gefrin is a field to your right. There is a large memorial and a sculptured gatepost but little else to see. The monument on the hill further away is nothing to do with Ad Gefrin but dates back to the Napoleonic wars in the early 19th century.

Kirknewton with its ancient church is the next village. The church is named after Saint Gregory and houses an lovely relief of the adoration of the Magi...only they are wearing kilts. It is also where Josephine Butler is buried. She was a brave social reformer from the 19th century.

Just past Kirknewton you are now driving alongside the old railway line which used to run into Scotland. “The old station house” is on your right. One of these houses has had it’s front gate bricked up to act as a flood defence.

You will now cross a bridge over the College burn. Look down to see how full the river is. The modern house the right has had to have rather large flood defences erected beside the river.

The small hamlet of Westnewton is now on your left. There will be a signpost for Hethpool and you need to make this left turn. At the next corner make sure that you bear left past the studio of the artist Peter Podmore. You are now on a one way track into the College Valley.

Entering the Valley

As you drive along this single road look down to your right. The valley here is often filled with sheep and looks very verdant. However the rainfall around here can be very peculiar and often this part is dry as a bone.

As you approcah the top of the hill look to your right. There is a small plantation here called "Trafalgar woods" and it was planted in 2005 to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar and Admiral Collingwood who once owned the Valley. To your left, the small hill, with stunted oak trees is Collingwood bell..and it was here that the Admiral's wife planted acorns in the hope that they would grow into large trees to be of use in the Royal Navy.

As the road starts to drop down towards the valley stop to admire the view. It is rather special. Also make a note of a small lay by on your right hand side. This is a good parking place if you wanted to explore Whitehill on your right. From here you get some great views south into the Valley.

The field on your left is used in the Spring as a lambing field.

At the bottom of the hill take the road as it forks left. The right hand road will take you to Elsdonburn and then onto Trowupburn. It is also a dead end.

You have also just joined the path for St Cuthberts walk. The pilgrims would start in Kelso and having just crossed the border above Kirk Yetholm they are now walking past Hethpool and on towards Wooler.

Hethpool

You are now driving on the private road owned by College Valley estates. The avenue of trees will bring you into Hethpool. Look out for the red post box on your left. See how it faces towards the estate house and away from the road! The tree lined drive on your left goes to Hethpool house and there is also an access gate for the man made lake. Note the lovely summer house on the left of the drive about half way down.

The road now takes a sharp right beside the art and craft cottages built in the early 20th century.

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 On your left is a gate and cattle grid. This road leads down to Hethpool Mill. It is also the access point for the walk along the eastern side of the valley as well as the Newton tors and onto Wooler.

Pass over another cattle grid and you come to a car park on your left. If you don't have a pass then you need to leave your car here.

The field on your right has the rather scant remains on a stone circle. It is also where the annual College Valley fete is held. The hill to your right is Great Hetha. To your left, eastwards, you are looking towards the Newton tors. Note the remains of the old farm at Harrowbog.

Into the valley proper

As you drive along and below Great Hetha ( to your right ) spare a moment to admire the gorse which covers the valley floor below you. In the summer the gorse gives off a heady vanilla smell- wonderful.

Shortly after you have crossed a small bridge at Cresswell woods ( a small plantation planted to commemorate the retirement of Charles Baker-Cresswell who was the chairman of College Valley Estates ) you will see a forestry road on your right. This takes you to Trowupburn and it makes a wonderful low level circular walk past Trowupburn, Elsdonburn and back to Hethpool.

The next house on your left is Whitehall with great views down the valley.

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As the road flattens out look into the field on your right. Here you will see a small wooden chalet. Reputedly built in the early 20th century ( late 19th?) to allow an old lady to recover from TB. She had been advised to convalesc in Switzerland but wanted to stay in England and came to the valley for clean air.

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Soon you will come to Cuddystone Hall. Built in the early 1960's as a community hall it is available for private hire or for weddings. There is also a memorial to airmen who died when their planes crashed in the Cheviots during WW2.

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 At this point you have two options, the YHA at Mounthooley or up into the Lambden Valley:-

Mounthooley road.

Take the right hand fork for the YHA hostel at Mounthooley. You will pass Fleahope and just before Mounthooley you can park to the right and then climb the Schil. After this follow the Pennine way round and drop back down just after Red Cribs and the Mountain Rescue hut. It is worth looking for the grass roofed small house just before you reach Fleehope. It is on your left.

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Lambden Valley road.

Cross the College burn over the Sutherland bridge. Pass Southernknowe farm on your right. One of the houses here , the Old School house, is available for rent. The road now climbs and narrows. Soon you will come to Coldburn on the right and below the road.

This road between the College and the Lambden valleys is quite a delight in the evenings.With the sound of the water and the occassional sheep nearby you can sit beside the stream and just enjoy the peace and tranquility.

Soon you will cross the stream, just below Dunsdale crags. The road then climbs steeply and you are now in the Lambden valley. Dunsdale house with Bizzle crags behind is to your right. Follow the road to Goldsceugh at the end.

 

Guide to the College Valley by A guide to the College Valley, accommodation and wilderness in Northumberland Welcome to this secret value on the Border with Scotland Hethpool,North Northumberland,United Kingdom Written for visitors to the Valley as well as those seeking other data sources Updated August 13th 2013
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