A walk on the moors to the North of Rothbury.
This is a steep, rough walk with a number of options. Once up onto the open moors, the views to the South, West and North make the climb very worthwhile. No facilities on the route and very much not for disabled or poor walkers.
How to get there
Postcode for Satnav - NE65 7QB. This is the post code for Primrose Cottage, which is on the walking route. Do not follow the SatNav right to the cottage as there is no parking there, but park just off the roadway.
Coming from Alnwick, take the B6341, signposted Rothbury. Follow this road over the Alnwick moors and over the B697 cross roads. Coming from Morpeth, take the B697 and follow it north up to the cross roads with the B6341. Turn left at this crossroads for Rothbury.
Now this road goes up and down a steep hill. As you descend the hill you will come to woods on either side of the road. At the point where the right hand wood ends, on the right hand side of the road about 50 yards before the exit from Cragside you will see a forestry commission track signposted Debdon. Turn down this track and park near the entrance. There is space for about 6 cars without blocking any of the Forestry Commission access.
Click here to see a detailed OS routemap of the walk. It will open in a new tab.
Go along the track from the car park and keep left at the fork in the track, heading down hill to Primrose Cottage. At the cottage, go through the gate into Primrose Wood, then about 300 yards into the wood, take a left hand turn at a crossroads. Follow this track for another 300 yards or so, then you will see a footpath on the left that leads down to the moors.
Follow this path out of the forest, over the stile, then up the hill through heather. There are times when the path splits up then joins together again, but if in doubt, keep heading up the hill. Eventually, you will reach another track at the top.
Turn right, and follow this track over the moors, past the radio masts. As you come over the hill you will see marvelous views to the south of Rothbury and the Simonside hills over the Coquet Valley. Keep following the track round the hills, and the views open out westward right up the Coquet valley, then eventually northward to the Cheviot hills. Follow this track as it bends right round the moor, until eventually you will see a pine wood enclosed in a stone wall. Just past this wood is a gateway with a narrow pathway leading North. Follow this path to the top of the ridge, enjoying the views to the north, and eventually it will go down the moor and back to a trackway. Turn Right and follow the track to a crossroads.
Here, you can go straight over and down through Primrose wood back to the cottage, but to extend the walk, turn left and follow the trackway round the edge of the wood, which will also take you back to Primrose Cottage, on a more scenic route. Now climb back up the hill again and back to your car.
The hills around Rothbury are strewn with prehistoric remains, and the moorland to the north is no exception. You will pass a standing stone and a prehistoric cairn on route, while there is another standing stone and hill fort just below the southern edge of the route. However if you are expecting a tall menhir pointing up to the sky like a jagged tooth, you will be disappointed.
The first standing stone lies in the valley by the side of primrose wood. As you leave the wood, you go down a short way, over a stile then up a little bit, where you will see a stone parish marker with 'R' on one side and 'D' on the other. Look to your left and you will see a white stone sticking out in the heather, maybe a 150 yards away. If you walk over to it, you will find it is just about 4 feet high. Now look up the hill, and about 50 yards up you will see the remains of a stone circular structure about 8 yards across. I don't think it was a sheep pen as it's not big enough and has no obvious entrance. It looks to be hundreds of years old, while the standing stone could be thousands, but I've seen no reference to it anywhere.
The other standing stone is right up on top of the ridge above Rothbury. Walk to the top, but instead of taking the trackway that leads round the radio masts, go over the track, then follow a very narrow pathway up the hill through the heather. As you climb the hill, you will see the standing stone as it's quite prominent on the ridge but it very small, maybe 2 feet high, and set about 10 yards off the path towards the radio mast. You can see that the stone has been squared off, but to be honest, the whole ridge is littered with stones, some of them the size of a bus, so it's hard to see why this one is special. If you poke about a bit on the flat rocks near the standing stone, you will find one with a spiral carving on it.
Standing stones date from the Late Neolithic to the end of the Bronze Age, which makes them between 3,000 and 5,000 years old. Archaeologists call them 'ritual or ceremonial monuments', a pretty generic term, and say they could be markers for routeways, territories, graves, or meeting points. If these stones were meeting points, then why not just use one of the massive boulders on the hill? If they were route markers, then you can't see the lower stone from the upper stone (but they may have been a lot higher 4,000 years ago of course).
None, just steep climbs and fantastic views