Ingram Valley Walk - Cheviot Hills

PUBLISHED: 23:42 10 April 2012 | UPDATED: 22:03 04 October 2012

Farm in the Ingram Valley spotlit by a shaft of sunlight, Northumberland National Park

Farm in the Ingram Valley spotlit by a shaft of sunlight, Northumberland National Park

Allow yourself to be distracted on this glorious walk through the Ingram Valley Words and pictures by David Taylor

The print version of this article appeared in the April 2012 issue of North East Life

We can deliver a copy direct to your door order online here

Its all too easy to get distracted. Ive managed to get distracted 26 times during the writing of this article, 27 if you count the time spent working out just how many distractions there were.

It can be the same when on a walk. Just because you have a route planned doesnt mean you wont go off on a tangent to explore something that looks interesting. This months walk along the Breamish Valley has built-in distractions. You can ignore these distractions if you like, but if you do you have greater willpower than me.

The Breamish (or Ingram) Valley is the most visited of all the valleys in the Cheviot Hills range. When you get there its not hard to see why. GM Trevelyan described Northumberland as the Land of Far Horizons in his 1926 book, The Middle Marches. High up in the hills of the Breamish Valley, looking across miles of open moorland, you get a real understanding of this description.

Start at the main car park outside the village of Ingram. Walk east back along the road out of the valley until you reach a junction on the left. Follow this road north to Reaveley and, approximately a hundred metres on, a footpath signposted for Threestoneburn House on the left.

Take this footpath uphill, keeping to the right of a fence and following the route marked out by arrow posts. At a ladder stile, cross over into Open Access land and then bear right towards a house on the brow of a hill.

The house, Reavelyhill House, has long been abandoned at least as human habitation. Poke a curious head through the open windows and youll see winter-feed for sheep stored there. The old range and fireplace hasnt been removed though, so youll get an idea of how snug the house must once have been, even though it sits exposed to the elements at the top of one of the Cheviot Hills.

Follow the path from the house north around the back of Reaveley Hill. You should eventually reach a post at a crossroads of paths. Carry on following a bridleway south west that takes you to the foot of Dunmoor Hill.

This is the first of our distractions for today. At a footpath marker follow the route up to Cunyan Crags for spectacular views across the Breamish Valley. The crags are outcrops of volcanic rock known as dolerite and are a feature of many of the hills in the Cheviot range. From the crags, return to the bottom of Dunmoor Hill and continue south west along the bridleway.

The path eventually winds downhill between two conifer plantations. Continue following the path until you reach the road which runs through the Breamish Valley. For the second distraction of the day, follow the road downhill towards the hamlet of Linhope. From there, walk along a farm track which winds around woodland. Continue on past the wood until you reach the River Breamish and Linhope Spout.

Linn is a traditional Northumbrian word for a waterfall. Linhope Spout is one of the most spectacular in the Cheviots. At 60ft its no Niagara, but its still an inspirational sight.

The deep plunge pool is also a popular spot for skinny-dipping. But well have none of that today. Thats perhaps one distraction too many

Come back along the same route and then follow the road east through Linhope and on to Hartside. The road winds its way through the valley, briefly leaving the River Breamish to veer south around Alnhammoor and Hartside Hill. The road is more direct however, and with less effort on your behalf youll meet the river again at the base of Brough Law, a steeply-sided hill south of the Breamish.

Continue along the road, following the rivers course up to and over a bridge. When you reach a small car park (and public convenience) bear right on the track leading uphill. Were now heading for the third, and final, distraction. The track takes you to the summit of Brough Law and to the location of an Iron Age hillfort.

The Cheviot Hills are renowned for the number and diversity of their Iron Age hillforts (there are a good number in the Breamish valley alone).

Arguably the most impressive and evocative is Yeavering Bell, some miles to the north. But, Brough Law shouldnt be dismissed. The course of the hillforts perimeter stone wall can still be easily followed and, if you look carefully, you can also see the remains of several huts within the main enclosure.

Its easy to see why the fort was built where it was. Our distant ancestors obviously knew what they were doing. The summit of Brough Law is a strong, easily defendable position with breathtaking views across the valley. That, and its a five-minute dash to the loo at the bottom of the hill. This is where we go now, following the path back down to the road.

Continue east along the road until you reach the village of Ingram again. Its an easy route with few distractions. But that doesnt mean that I didnt find a few more along the way

Start point: Ingram car park

Grid reference: NU 0179 1628

Ordnance Survey Map: OS Landranger Sheet 81 (Morpeth & Alnwick)

Length: 8.5 miles (13.75km) or 13 miles (20.85km)

Difficulty: Some steep climbs and rough paths

Time: Five hours

Nearest Pub: Plough Inn, Powburn

Nearest town: Wooler

For more information about the Breamish Valley visit www.northumberlandnationalpark.

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