Warkworth Castle Walk - Northumberland
PUBLISHED: 13:31 20 April 2011 | UPDATED: 11:11 09 October 2012
This month's walk takes us around the countryside that the beautiful Warkworth Castle in Northumberland was built to defend Words and pictures by David Taylor
Show an American tourist an English castle and hell be as happy as a clam. However, dont make the mistake I once made and try and show off all the castles in Northumberland in just one day. By the end of the afternoon my American tourist was completely castled out and decided that a snooze in the car was a better way to pass the time.
Which was a pity because he missed the sight of Warkworth Castle on its elevated position overlooking the village below. The original castle was built sometime after the Norman conquest. It would have been a wooden construction, impressive by the standards of the day but not as imposing as the stone structure that replaced it.
The castle keep was built sometime in the 14th century for the Percy family. By the 19th century the keep was extensively rebuilt and refurbished under the ownership of the various Dukes of Northumberland during this period.
Now the castle and its grounds are under the stewardship of English Heritage, so we can all pay a visit and pretend to be a king or queen for the day (or, depending on your social aspirations, a Saxon horde ready to snatch the castle back from the Norman invaders).
This months walk takes us around the countryside that the castle was built to defend. Start at the Market Cross in the centre of Warkworth village. This iron structure dates from approximately 1830, erected at the request of the third Duke of Northumberland. From the Market Cross walk uphill along Castle Street toward the castle.
Continue up and around the castle grounds onto Woodlands and then Morwick Road, until you reach a fingerpost for the St. Oswalds Way pointing down Guilden Road. Walk down Guilden Road and then along Warkworth Avenue on the right, following the direction of the St. Oswalds Way pointers.
The St. Oswalds Way is a long distance route from Heavenfield, near Hexham, to Lindisfarne off the north Northumberland coast. Saint Oswald was King of Northumbria in the 7th century and was instrumental in establishing Christianity in Northumbria during his eight year reign.
The route links places associated with the saint over a distance of ninety-seven miles. Dont worry though, today well only be walking a small fraction of this path!
At the end of Warkworth Avenue turn left and follow a track south. The track continues straight for approximately a mile, passing through the grounds of New Barns Farm. Along the way you should be able to see a distinctively-shaped water tower.
When you reach a meeting point of four paths, keeping the water tower on your right-hand side, turn right and continue along the tree-lined Green Lane and until you reach Morwick Road.
At this point we leave the St. Oswalds Way, which continues west toward Felton. Turn right and then follow the road north, passing a sign for Morwick Dairy Ice Cream. Although this is not a busy road care must still be taken when walking along. The verge is generally wide and grassy on both sides, but does disappear occasionally at sharp bends in the road. Cross over if necessary to avoid walking in the road.
Once you arrive back in Warkworth follow the road until you reach the junction of Watershaugh Road. Turn left and walk along the street until you reach a sharp left bend. Continue straight on at this point down a track until you reach Howlett Hall cottages. Follow the path to the right of the cottages.
The path takes you down to the River Coquet and the boat stage for the Hermitage. The Hermitage, a medieval chapel carved into the rock that lines the river, also belongs to English Heritage. During the summer months you can reach the Hermitage by boat from here. Its well worth a visit, though I cant guarantee that the hermit will be there when you call.
From the boat stage, turn right and follow the path along the river towards Warkworth. Eventually you should reach the old stone bridge over the Coquet.
The stone bridge, like the castle keep, also dates from the 14th century. Unusually it features a tower at one end, which it is believed was used as a jail. The bridge is now only open to pedestrians, its role as the main crossing into Warkworth usurped by the neighbouring modern road bridge.
Follow Castle Street briefly before turning right down into St. Lawrence Terrace. Turn left at the end of the terrace and continue, following the path around the wall that surrounds St. Lawrences Church. The church, a Norman structure built on Saxon foundations, may once have held relics of the saint. It is thought that these were sent by Pope Vitalian to King Oswin who succeeded St. Oswald.
From the church, walk past a row of shops back to the Market Cross and the end of this months walk. Hopefully after all this fresh air youll sleep soundly when you get home, even if youve only seen one castle today.
Start Point: Warkworth Market Cross
Length: 5 miles (8km) Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate. Some road walking.
Grid Reference: NU 247 060 Nearest town: Warkworth
Ordnance Survey Map: Alnwick & Morpeth Landranger 81
Nearest Pub: Hermitage Inn, Castle Street
For the Walkworth Castle website website please go to northeast.greatbritishlife.co.uk/community/links