I like #Haltwhistle, there’s an air of cultured defiance about the place as it tries to maintain its viability when most people want the bright lights of Newcastle or Carlisle(!). There’s still a decent range of shops and businesses in the town to satisfy the needs of the doughty inhabitants – butchers, bakers but sadly no candlestick makers. If you forget to pack sandwiches you can usually find a suitable place to fill your rucksack as well. It’s annual walking festival is, I’m reliably informed, brilliant (makes note in diary).
As Spring relaxed into itself on this lovely day in late April, we left the excitement of the #Sainsburys car park in the bustling metropolis and headed North, out of town following the course of the Haltwhistle Burn. You’re quickly out into the wilds from Haltwhistle town and after a short stroll through houses you’re into the wooded river valley and nature in the raw.
And on this day we were blessed by shady river banks bejewelled with primroses and artfully lit by soft sunshine filtering through overhead branches. The gurgling burn serenaded us up through the twisting river valley and every step was a pleasure. I did bore most of the party by pointing out every patch of primroses I spotted but they were in such luxuriant profusion it seemed rude not to let people know.
There’s no need for a map on this stretch of the walk as you follow the excellent riverside footpath for a mile or so before bursting out of the trees and climbing through a field to the Military Road. After crossing we headed north-ish around an undulating hill to reach the spectacular Cawfield Quarry – a great place to stop and have lunch on one of the many picnic tables and to powder collective noses at the facilities.
The middle stretch of the walk is classic Hadrians Wall – in fact one of the best stretches and most accessible there is – and took us up high with grand views to the North and South. On our way back to Hexham we stopped off at the Milecastle Inn for a refreshing beer\coffee\lemonade before retracing our steps down the burn to our starting point.