As predicted, I’ve still been working through the backlog of images from my recent visit to Northumberland this week, so this week’s Last Week’s Shoot is actually a Last Month’s Shoot! This was probably the highlight of the trip – a walk from Rothbury over the Simonside Hills and back.
I headed out of Rothbury through the village of Whitton and up into the Northumberland National Park on Garleigh Moor where an old tree, bent by the prevailing wind held a spot with commanding views over Coquetdale with Rothbury below.
Garleigh Moor is also home to Lordenshaw’s Iron Age Hillfort and there are numerous interesting cup and ring marked rocks dotted about the area. The largest is marked with a sign indicating it is a protected monument. It’s a good place to stop and admire the view of the Simonside Hills as a backdrop before starting the climb!
The path I’d been following is the long distance St Oswald’s Way which from here rises steeply up the hillside on the slopes of The Beacon, the first peak in the Simonside Hills. It’s a well-made path with steps in places which makes the going reasonable. After a while, there’s a another path leading off the St Oswald’s Way to the right and following the ridge of the hills.
After the top of The Beacon the view off to the south across Caudhole Moss looked quite strange in the overcast light, with less lush green grass than the views to the north into Coquetdale, giving a more parched look.
The next stop was at Dove Crag, the main reason for my visit and I spent some time here working with various hard sandstone formations overlooking the dale toward Rothbury and in the other direction with Simonside as a backdrop (above). The lush greens looked great in the overcast light but obviously the heather is a bit dull in the early summer – I’d like to get back there in August for another look when the heather is in bloom!
From Dove Crag I followed the path further along the ridge to the fantastic stones at Old Stell Crag, which I didn’t even know about, so they were a nice surprise. Here I started to get a few breaks in the cloud and a bit of sunlight, but on the whole I preferred the more brooding overcast shots from the day.
From Old Stell Crag the path leads across upland with heather and cottongrass to Simonside and then down a steep rocky path where I picked up the trail through the forestry plantation toward Great Tosson and back to Rothbury along the river.
It’s a great walk and I’ll certainly be doing it again! There’s a shorter version if you park in the car park on the lane below The Beacon rather than walking from Rothbury.