“ Northumberland, England. „
If you choose, as I hope you will, to explore Northern Northumberland, you can do no better than make Wooler your base. This small town is ideally placed, whether you wish to walk the Cheviot Hills or drive a short distance to enjoy a stunning coastline of sandy beaches which stretch forever. You can visit the delightful coastal villages and towns or walk alone for miles with not another soul in sight should you wish. Wooler sits close to the Cheviot Hills and is reached by the A697. Alternatively the A1 runs a few miles to the east. It is appropriate somehow that this great trunk road narrows to fit in with the remote border country. Wooler is only one and a half hours drive from Edinburgh and the beautiful walled town of Berwick on Tweed close enough to make it a half-day trip. Although resting quietly in some of the wildest country in England, Wooler has enough to offer the tourist. There are pubs serving good food at decent prices, a very good fish and chip shop among other restaurants and the local supermarket is open until 10pm. The Black Lion always held a disco on friday nights. The welcome is obvious from the moment you arrive. In fact I have always forgotten I was a tourist when in this friendly town. We regarded the Anchor pub as our local while we were there and happily joined in a game of dominos after an excellent evening meal. The tourist office is in the centre of the High Street and will advise you on a suitable B&B at a reasonable price before booking for you. Although not wanting to take our muddy-pawed dogs into our room, we did need to know that we could see the car from a window. The Cheviot Hills stretch for approx. 35 miles along the border of England and Scotland. The highest point is the top of Cheviot Hill, 2676' high and the source of the North Tyne and the River Tweed. One 5 mile walk takes you into Scotland. Standing by the signpost one can gaze before and behind you across the magnificent bord
ers. The joy of this area is that you can generally leave your car on the grass at the side of the road and just start walking. The hills fold in on themselves, divided by burns to be crossed before continuing your adventure. Although often high, the hills are covered in vegetation rather than rock, so one can walk the sheep tracks to the tops and not worry about the height. You will find your own waterfalls, deep pools and derelict shepherds' cottages. The wildlife is untroubled in this lonely place and there are surprises to be found. A memory which still moves me is when we left the car and walked through a gate. A short way on we found ourselves on a plateau so deeply covered in purple heather that we had to lift the 2 jack russells to help them through. Stopping by a stand of baby christmas trees, we turned and.......with the only sound the wind, we saw the hills rising up around us and between the hills to the east on this clear day, could see waves breaking on the beach over 17 miles away. Above us drifted a golden eagle. Off-course it may have been, but it was the genuine article. This memory is precious because my husband died the following year. It was the last of several holidays in The Cheviots. Sorry, I have digressed. From Wooler the drive is not long to Bamborough Castle standing magnificent, high above a golden beach and Bamborough below. The castle is well worth the visit, as is the small town it towers over. Seahouses is a harbour resort, ideal for the family. If you wonder at those postcards showing a bright blue sea, they are accurate. Northumberland could not be as lush without rain. But on a sunny day the North Sea is anything but bleak. Wooler is in a position that puts you within half day trips of all these places and many more. We would spend the mornings on the beach and in the afternoons walk the Cheviots. If you want the high life, then Newcastle would be for you. But if you want to travel for mile
s without seeing another car, or walk a beach for hours without seeing another person then return to Wooler for a good meal and a friendly pub, this could be for you. One final point is the subject of Foot and mouth. At present only 3% of paths are closed. A small amount, but you may wish to wait before you take your trip.
Wooler is a small town in the middle of Northumberland, about half way between Newcastle and Edinburgh. The town is on the A697 about 10 miles from the coast and on the edge of the Cheviot Hills. As well as a number of camping and caravan sites around the town, there are also quite a few very welcoming Bed and Breakfast places, details of which can be found from the Tourist Information Centre on the main street. This part of the country is extremely beautiful with a terrific amount of history around the area. There are many castles in the county, most of which are open to the public, and many other historic monuments. For hill walking, the Cheviot Hills are a wonderful opportunity to get away from it all, with many fine walks across the hills. The Harthope Burn flows through Wooler and for keen fishermen this river has Brown Trout and at certain times of the year also has Salmon and Sea Trout. What does make this town such a lovely place to visit is the very genuine, warm welcome you get from the local people, either in the local pubs or shops you visit. For eating and drinking there are a good variety of restaurants and public houses, plus fish and chip shops in the town, altogether giving a wide choice of meals at different prices. If you enjoy the beauty of the Cheviot Hills then there is road from Wooler that runs into the hills. From the High Street (near the Tourist Information Office) there is signposted a picnic site. (Follow the road past the church). At the picnic site there is a car park and some public toilets, but my suggestion is that you do not stop here but carry on along this road. This single track road leads into the hills (a bit steep in places) to a place called Langleeford. Although you can't take your car to the very end of this road you can drive down about three miles into a very beautiful part of the hills. The road follows the Harthorpe Burn river and there are a number of
places where you can park and enjoy the view, have a picnic or go for a walk on the hills. At the end of the three miles there is a small parking area (big enough for about ten cars). Here there is a bridge over the river, a large grassed area next to the river and a number of footpaths leading into the hills. The peace and beauty of this spot is amazing. So lets keep it a secret and only tell real hill lovers. Take a coat though as it can get a bit windy on the hills. If you are in this part of the country then it is well worth visiting this very pleasant town and the beautiful countryside that surrounds it.