Northumberland Walk - Corbridge

PUBLISHED: 00:09 15 May 2013

Vicars Pele

Vicars Pele

David Taylor Photography. All Rights Reserved

Step back in time on this great walk which starts at Corbridge, or should that be Tynebridge?

Words and pictures by David Taylor

Aydon CastleAydon Castle

Have you ever wondered how certain places in the North East acquired their name?

Take Corbridge for instance. There’s a bridge over the River Tyne to the south of the town so at least part of the name makes sense. But where does the Cor bit come from? Why is this month’s walk not starting in the centre of Tynebridge?

Cor BurnCor Burn

We’ll come back to that in a minute. For now though, take yourself to the centre of Corbridge, to Market Place to be exact. Market Place is notable for three things: St Andrew’s Church, the Vicar’s Pele and the market cross.

The ground on which St Andrew’s Church is built was first consecrated in 676 AD, making it one of the earliest religious sites in the North East. The Vicar’s Pele isn’t quite as old, dating only from the 14th century. This impressive structure has walls almost four feet thick, a testament to the turbulent times in which it was built. Finally, the market cross is the most modern of the three dating from 1814. It’s now a Grade II listed building and a useful reference point for finding your way around Corbridge.

From the market cross walk along Front Street and then downhill along Princess Street to the bridge.

The bridge has great historic significance. An earlier river crossing here, described in 1306 as the only bridge between Newcastle and Carlisle, was replaced by the current bridge in 1674. So solid is it that it was the only bridge along the Tyne to survive the devastating floods of 1771, which were dramatic enough to claim the river bridge a little further upstream in Hexham.

At the footpath marker next to the bridge, take the footpath and follow it along the river. Bear right and go up the incline, then follow the path to the left. At the road, take the path to the right.

After a short time you will come to the entrance for Corbridge Roman Town. And the name of this Roman town? Corstopitum. Or more colloquially Coria, meaning tribal centre. Hence the modern name for Corbridge.

If you’ve time to visit you can see extensive remains of what was once a bustling civilian settlement, and an important supply base for the Roman legions based on Hadrian’s Wall. There is also a museum with some fascinating exhibits, including the ‘Corbridge Hoard’, a collection of armour and personal possessions of a Roman soldier, and one of the most important Roman finds to have been discovered in the area. The site is in the care of English Heritage and is open every day between the end of March and the end of September.

Continue along the footpath, and when you reach the houses on the opposite side of the road, cross over and cut in along the narrow path. Go right along the drive to the road. Cross the road and follow Cow Lane, ahead of you. With the Middle School on your right, follow the path as it bears right. Follow the footpath marker for Milkwell Lane.

Turn left under the A69. After a few metres, take the footpath marker for Aydon Castle. Continue along the path and then through the field. At the top of the field, go through the gate at the blue marker. The blue marker is the symbol for the Corbridge Heritage Trails, which works to promote the restoration of public rights of way, with an emphasis on historic sites, around Corbridge.

Follow the path as it bears left, and go through the gate into the woodland. Cross the footbridge over Cor Burn and follow the path as it heads uphill. Go through the gate at the top of this path.

You have now arrived at Aydon Castle. This is a fine example of a 13th century English manor house. Originally built as an undefended residence, it was fortified at the outbreak of Anglo-Scottish hostilities. This didn’t help much, as the manor was pillaged and burned by the Scots in 1315, before being seized by English rebels a short time later, then being occupied by the Scots in 1346!

But despite its turbulent history, Aydon Castle remains largely intact and makes for a rewarding visit. The castle is open from Thursday to Monday between the end of March and the end of September, and is in the care of English Heritage.

From Aydon Castle walk east along the road until you come to a footpath marker to Aydon. Follow this path across a series of farm fields until you reach the village of Aydon. From there follow the road right to reach the Aydon Road. Turn left and follow the road until you come to a fingerpost pointing towards the A69. Follow this path across more farm fields until you reach the A69.

Cross over the A69 (with care – it’s a busy road particularly at peak times). Climb over a stile to follow the footpath to the hamlet of Thornbrough. When you reach the road through Thornbrough turn right to follow a footpath west towards the B6530. Once you reach this road follow it west back into Corbridge and the end of the walk. Or Tynebridge as I may well start calling it from now on.


Start Point: Market Square

Grid Reference: NY 9882 6438

Ordnance Survey Map: Hexham & Haltwhistle 87

Length: 5.6 miles (9.1 kilometres)

Difficulty: Moderate

Time: Three hours

Nearest Pub: The Angel, Corbridge

Nearest town: Corbridge

For more information about the Roman site at Corbridge go to

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