A Walk just west of Wooler around Humbleton Burn
A short walk around a nature reserve, with the option to take much longer detours on the moors and through forests.
Postcode for Satnav - NE71 6RJ. This is for Low Common Farm, which is on the right of the single track road described below. Don't turn right to the farm, continue along the road.
Drive into Wooler up The Peth, which from the South is left just over the bridge, and from the North, right just before the bridge. At the top of the bank you will see a small square with cafes. Turn second left here up Ramsey Lane and follow this road up out of Wooler into the hills. The road becomes single track as it leaves the town so proceed with caution. It goes round a couple of sharp bends, then at the end of a long straight you will see a forestry commission lorry park on the right hand side. Just past this, there is a visitor car park, also on the right hand side.
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For the short walk, just head down from the carpark along the walkway around the nature reserve. This is an easy, circular walk of maybe a mile on made up country paths around two lakes and it should be disabled friendly.
One option for a longer walk is to head over the road from the car park and head up Humbleton burn. You will see the path leaving the road on the left just before the bridge, signposted St Cuthbert's way. Follow this path along the burn, then through a gate and up a hillside. The path continues over the hills, but you will see a left hand branch which heads for a forest. Follow the path to the forest, then alongside the forest for a short way, until it eventually goes into the forest. Follow the path through the forest and at the end there is a gate. The track continues over some moorland, then after about 100 yards, leave St Cuthbert's way and bear left, go through a gate and so back to the road. You then walk back along the road to the car park.
You can find a number of interesting bits of history in the area. At the point on that moorland track where you bear left to the road, it is worthwhile taking a short detour to the right. If you look to the right you will see a large pre-historic earthwork known as the Kettles Hillfort. In fact, you will have seen the fort ramparts ever since you left the forest. The hillfort encloses a large 4.5 acre site and has three parallel ditches that separate it into two halves. It is possible to walk right through the earthwork, but there is little to see once you are inside it.
If you walk through the hillfort, then head off down the southern edge down a really steep path through some gorse bushes you will reach a point where the path forks left and right around a small hill. You can take either fork then at the foot of this hill find the Maiden Well, or Pin Well. This is a natural spring surrounded by stones.
At one time if you looked inside the well you would see a lot of bent pins. The old belief was that you visit this well on Mayday, drop a bent pin into it then make a wish, then that wish would come true. Last time I was there, the pool contained 2 coins and 2 frogs trying to hide in the stones.
There is a large rock above the spring called The King's Chair upon which a Scottish king was supposed to have sat and watched a battle in the valley below.
If you cannot face the thought of the climb back up to the fort, and it is a lung burster, then it is possible to walk up the ravine at the foot of the hill instead. This will take you to the very edge of Wooler and then you have to walk up the roadway you drove up, which is still a hard climb but not quite so steep.
At the point on the original walk where you come off the moor and back to the road, on the other side of the road, is a scheduled ancient monument known as Green Castle. You see this as you walk over the hill and it looks almost crescent shaped, but apparently it is a medieval D-shaped ringwork mound.
There are no facilities directly on the walk, but Wooler is just 2 miles away, with good pubs, cafes and shops.
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