|Alwinton is a tranquil rural hamlet comprising of a handful of houses and a unique public house. It is also the traditional venue for the Border Shepherds Show which is held on the second Saturday in October.
Alwinton is the last settlement in the Coquet Valley and was once the delivery point for carriers unable to travel to the more remote hill farms. Supplies would be stored in a stone building next to Fellside cottage, awaiting collection by the shepherds.
The historical ‘Rose and Thistle’ Inn, was and still is the focal point of Alwinton. Where hill folk would swap stories and listen to accordion and fiddle. The traditional Northumbrian small pipes are a unique and lovely sound pertaining to ‘Border Country’.
Located in this beautiful valley and wild border hills surrounded by 360 degrees beauty, Alwinton is a special, unspoilt retreat where you can find peace, rarely found in today's world. The fact that the local bus service only runs once a week and you are 10 miles away from the nearest shopping centre lends itself to the "magic".
The Coquet valley has a fascinating history from ancient man through countless generations of ancestors who lived and worked in these hills. There is much evidence of the valleys incredible past but much more is yet to be discovered, which has given rise to the Coquetdale Community Archaeology project.
From early mans mysterious carvings or rock art at Lordenshaws near Rothbury, to the plentiful examples of Iron Age hill forts found on the summits of many
. One of which is directly behind Fellside cottage on ‘Castles Hill’. Medieval settlements and cultivation terraces are apparent in the area.
The Romans were here too, Chew Green Roman Camp sits at the head of the
. This Roman outpost protected ‘
’, a roman road stretching from Yorkshire to
. ‘The Street’ or ‘clattering path’ is another ancient Roman road, both of which are now grassy routes over the hills, enjoyed by walkers.
Close to the Scottish border, the upper Coquet was ‘ frontier land’. Centuries of Royal wars between English and Scots and lawless feuding by the ‘Border Reivers’ contributed to an unstable and lawless area. There are many examples of fortified dwellings, where people took refuge in these turbulent times. The ruins of
, a frontier castle taken by Robert the Bruce can be seen one mile from Fellside cottage.
Drovers routes played a big part in the history of the area too. Alwinton, like its Scottish counterpart, Cocklawfoot lay at the end of ‘
’. This was the route taken by Scottish cattlemen who would drive their stock over the Border Ridge and Windy Gyle down into Alwinton, to English markets.
’ was also used by the ‘Border Reivers’ who would make their quick getaway into
after plundering raids. Smugglers too would also use this route, to distribute their illicit moonshine whisky which was stilled in the
Nowadays thankfully, ‘
’ is a well known path used by walkers, cyclists and horse-riders. A grassy route which takes you 8 miles to the Scottish border and beyond, with wonderful views of wide open, remote hill land. You can only imagine what secrets these hills keep.
Alwinton itself, the hub of action in those days, is now a tranquil hamlet where the historic ‘Rose and Thistle’
is a lasting symbol of the truce that was made after centuries of Royal wars and cross-border fighting.
From Alwinton the road follows the river Coquet (pronounced Coe-kit) to the Upper Coquet Valley. A hidden gem of a Cheviot valley, shrouded by high hills. The fast flowing river Coquet tumbles through gorges and stony river banks, adorned in summer with yellow monkey flowers and blue forget me knots. Peppered with charming farmsteads, such as Windyhaugh, Barrowburn and Shillmoor with their own organic hay meadows. The perfect place for a picnic, your only companions will be the wandering sheep, a lonely heron and little dippers searching for food in the river.
The Alwin valley runs adjacent to the Coquet valley with both rivers meeting at ‘Alwinton’ bridge. Another stunning view, flanked by high hills such as ‘Bloodybush Edge’ and ‘Cushat Law.’ This is home to Kidland Forest, an isolated man made forest of sitka spruce that's renowned to be the last staging post in England for the red squirrel.
Half a mile to the south of Alwinton, a weathered fell sandstone ridge gives rise to the heather clad moorland, and wooded hillsides of the Harbottle hills and crags. A contrast to the rounded, grassy hills of the Cheviot range that evolved through volcanic activity. Take a forest walk to the ‘magical’ Drakestone. With excellent views across to Harbottle castle and the Simonside ridge. Explore the nature reserve and lake, an area of scientific interest, this area is covered in a blanket of heather in August.
The highest point in Northumberland ‘The Cheviot’ stands at 2676 feet. (Pronounced ‘Cheeviot’). The Cheviot heartland is formed of andesite and granite. Shaped by glaciers and weathered into waves of grass-covered rolling hills, covering an area of about 400 square miles. The four main Northumbrian valleys running off from Cheviot are The Coquet, Breamish, Harthope and College. To walk, cycle or ride this unspoilt and deserted landscape, refer to Ordnance Survey ‘Cheviot Hills map OL16. At Fellside we have a selection of walking books, cycle routes and maps, along with our suggested favourite walks in the area, short or long, many being circular routes from Fellside Cottage.
We recommend the following guides and websites "Walking the Cheviots: Classic Circular Routes", Shepherds Walks and Cheviot Walks.
Every year in August a charity event, ‘The Cheviot Challenge’ is held for the benefit of the Northumberland National Park Voluntary Search and Rescue Team. Starting at Alwinton, the challenge is a very popular event in the National Park.
Drive a little further up the valley and park at Wedderleap, White Bridge or Buckhams Bridge (all parking areas). From here you will gain closer access to the Pennine Way and Cheviot itself. A walk up ‘Windy Gyle’, one of the highest peaks in the Cheviot range, is a memorable walk.
The views to Cheviot and into Scotland are breathtaking and on some occasions, its possible to see the ranging wild goats. Most walks are well waymarked and on springy turf paths that make good walking, cycling or riding.
Walking these hills is a memorable experience, endless rolling hills speckled with hare-bell and cotton grass in the summer. Vast and empty, wild and romantic, stop and listen to the sound of a babbling burn, or soft breeze blowing through the grass. Skylarks sing high in the sky and the haunting cry of the curlew symbolises the wildness and wonder of these Cheviot Hills.
After a day in the hills I can guarantee you will come back to the comforts of Fellside cottage feeling a little tired but totally refreshed. With the Rose and Thistle just steps away for home-cooked food and a pint….perfect!