If our last walk took us to the hidden corners of Weardale, this walk took us to equivalent territory in Northumberland. We are seasoned walkers within the beautiful Tyne valley and coast but only occasionally venture to the northern reaches of Northumberland.
This particular walk started out on the outskirts of the village of Hepple. It’s about eight miles from Rothbury on the B6341 and lies within the snaking coils of the River Coquet. The first section of the walk took us across and up a steep cow pasture to a small group of houses on the western edge of the village; one of the houses had a shed painted like Dr Who’s Tardis in the garden. Or was it the actual Tardis? Curving around the houses we passed an impressive barn conversion among some farm buildings and followed the path through the farmyard and onto a dirt track. This led us out onto sheep pasture overlooking the Coquet Valley and superb views.
The river is slow moving and circuitous at this point and you can clearly see ox-bow lakes forming and flashbacks from geography textbooks! We wound our way slowly and diagonally through the steep sided pasture and down to the flood plain of the river, following a footpath to a wooden bridge over the Coquet. Instead of crossing the bridge we continued up and over rising ground to the tiny village of Sharpeton. At a roadside bench we ate our lunch and watched the Northumbrian world go by.
After lunch we head for the hamlet of Holystone and the enchanting Lady’s Well. This ancient spring has been adapted from Roman times through to the middle ages and is now a shaded grove containing a rectangular pool and a small stone statue. The spring is still the water source for the houses nearby amazingly. It’s very atmospheric and a lovely place to rest on a long hot walk.
Retracing our steps through Holystone we headed back to the bridge we eschewed, earlier on the walk, and crossed it to reach the far side of the river. After a short but steep climb we reached a higher footpath that skirted the top of the valley and ran alongside two large conifer copses.
This led us to a long farm lane that sloped gently downhill between hedgerows fresh with the greenery of new spring and back down to the roadside parking where we had left our cars.