A there and back again walk of up to 6 miles along an old railway near Haltwhistle, in the South-West corner of Northumberland.
Just an easy, disabled friendly, walk along an old railway line, though there are two places where you cross roadways. This is a recognised cycle route, but it should be safe and manageable for any size of dog. There is a pub close to the parking area for that after walk pint.
Postcode for Satnav - NE49 0JF - This is the post code for the Wallace Arms, near the parking area.
From Newcastle, take the A69 Carlisle road and follow it for about 16 miles past Hexham to Haltwhistle. Take the second left after the Haltwhistle roundabout, signposted 'Alston', 'Halton le Gate', just before the second bridge over the South Tyne.
Coming on the A69 west from Carlisle, Haltwhistle is about 7 miles from the Cumbria border. You pass the road off to Haltwhistle on your left, then come to the bridge over the South Tyne. Turn right just past the bridge.
Follow this road down for just over 2 miles, until you come to Featherstone village. Turn right by the village hall and follow this road down for a couple of hundred yards, past the Wallace Arms, and you will see the car park on your left.
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Walk up to the old railway from the parking area, turn left, cross over the road, then past Featherstone station house. The railway track runs past an open area, then through woods above the Park Burn.
The path soon reaches Park Village, where you cross another road and continue past fields and through a cutting. There are several fine old railway bridges on route. The railway narrows as it runs past Broomhouse farm, where you continue on until you eventualy reach another road, quite close to Haltwhistle.
It appears that there are several walks in this area, and ideally I'd have liked to cross over to the South Tyne and walked back by the river. There is a footpath at Broomhouse farm which might lead in the right direction, and another one in Park Village which definitely ran down to the river, but I could not see a route back which did not involve a lot of walking on roads, so we returned by the same path.
It is tempting to think that the name Haltwhistle has to do with a railway stop on the Newcastle to Carlisle line. In fact it is an old English name that means something like 'The high point between two streams'. Haltwhistle suffered a lot in the Middle Ages, as it is close the the Scottish border. Those pesky Armstrongs often raided south from their strongholds in Liddesdale and sacked the town more than once.
The old railway line this walk is based on is the old Haltwhistle to Alston line, which runs about 13 miles south up into Cumbria. Beeching wanted to close the line in the '60s, but it was kept open until 1976, as there was no good road access up the valley. The southern portion of the line, from Alston to Slaggyford, is maintained by the South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society and they run a steam train service over the 5 miles of track. They do eventually plan to re-instate the line all the way to Haltwhistle, so this walk may disappear sometime in the future.
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