15 beautiful Northumberland National Park walks

Walking, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Clare on 20th July 2021

Simonside in Northumberland National Park

Wild, remote, and sparsely populated, Northumberland National Park is the most northerly of the 11 national parks in England and Wales. Encompassing a large section of Hadrian’s Wall; the glorious scenery of the Cheviot Hills, the remote hillforts and moorland of the Breamish Valley; the glistening lake of Kielder Water and the surrounding forest; and untouched landscapes at every turn; it may be one of the lesser-visited national parks, yet its modesty belies its splendour.

A beautiful part of the country to explore on foot, there is no shortage of Northumberland National Park walks to suit all abilities. From easy strolls with the family to long hikes requiring the correct gear and preparation, there are many ways to enjoy this national park and to discover the beauty of Northumberland

Read on for our round-up of 15 of the best Northumberland National Park walks, and don’t forget to take a look at our collection of cottages if you’re looking for somewhere to stay during your trip.

Northumberland National Park cottages

Otterburn Ranges in Northumberland National Park

Otterburn Ranges

Spot no end of wildlife on this scenic walk through The Otterburn Ranges. An area used for military exercises, it is a remote and unspoilt corner of the UK which covers almost a quarter of Northumberland National Park. Check the Access Area Guidelines before you go, and be aware that access to some areas is closed for live ammunition firing when red flags are flying. Keep your eyes peeled for black grouse, feral goats, skylarks and buzzards amongst the many other animals which thrive in this wild natural landscape.

Distance: 8 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Catcleugh Farmhouse | Sleeps 10 + 3 dogs

Walking in the Simonside Hills

Simonside Hills

An enjoyable circular walk up to the summit of Simonside from which your efforts up those steep stretches will be rewarded with panoramic views. Catch your breath as you gaze at the Cheviot Hills and out to the coast. Wildlife abounds here and you may even catch a glimpse of an elusive red squirrel in the forest below.

Distance: 4.3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Bewick | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Upper Coquetdale

Upper Cocquetdale

With breathtaking view after breathtaking view, this beautiful ramble amongst the steep valleys and verdant ridges of the Cheviot Hills takes you past some of the places associated with Highland outlaw Rob Roy.

Distance: 8.4 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Bridge End Cottage | Sleeps 5 + 2 dogs


Vindolanda and Hadrian’s Wall

Combine a visit to Vindolanda Roman Fort with a walk along this particularly attractive stretch of ancient Hadrian’s Wall. Three quarters of the way through your walk you can stop by Vindolanda to explore the fascinating remains and browsing the interactive exhibitions in the Roman Army Museum. Other highlights include The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre and bounteous wildlife to spot, including curlew and skylark as well as a variety of interesting fauna: wild thyme, wild chive, biting stonecrop and many more.

Distance: 6.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Holiday Hideaway | Sleeps 2

Linhope Spout

Linhope Spout

A lovely walk to enjoy with willing children in tow, this linear route is 3 miles in total, leading to the pretty waterfall Linhope Spout and back. Pack a picnic (or snacks for hungry mouths at least!) and maybe even some swimmers if you fancy taking a dip in the plunge pool at the bottom of the waterfall.

Distance: 3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: The Toddles | Sleeps 4 + 3 dogs

Breamish Valley

Breamish Valley Hillfort Trail

One of the best walks in Northumberland National Park if you’re looking for hilltop views, you can chalk up an impressive five hillforts along this exciting route. Wending a circular route through the ancient landscape, highlights include exploring the ruins of hillforts including Brough Law and Cochrane Pike, and taking in dramatic far-reaching views over the National Park.

Distance: 4.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Riverside Cottage – Eglingham | Sleeps 10 + 4 dogs

Sycamore Gap

A hit amongst walkers, this circular route begins at one of the key historic sites on Hadrian’s Wall, Housesteads Roman Fort, passing through woodland and open scenery to reach an iconic landmark – the much-photographed sycamore tree which grows in a gap eroded by meltwater from ice which once covered the area.

Distance: 5.2 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: The Falding Studio | Sleeps 2

Walltown Crags in Northumberland National Park

Walltown Crags

Another of the best walks in Northumberland National Park to indulge a love of history as well as a love of the Great Outdoors is the up and down trail to the spectacular Walltown Crags. Along with Sycamore Gap, it’s another oft-photographed section of Hadrian’s Wall characterised by sheer rock faces and spectacular views.

Distance: 2.8 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Burnside By Brampton | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Kielder Water

Kielder Water – The Lakeside Way

Drink in the enduringly beautiful scenery around Kielder Water on this epic 26-mile route along its shores. Whether you’re on two feet, two wheels, in a wheelchair, pushing a buggy or even on horseback, you can enjoy the well-surfaced Lakeside Way. Pick a shorter section of the route if you’re not feeling like a long walk, or take on the South Shore or North Shore stretches one at a time. Some routes even include a crossing on the Osprey Ferry. If you’re looking for easy walks in Northumberland National Park, this could be the one.

Distance: 26 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Kielder Castle Cottage | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Great Crested Grebes

Greenlee Lough

What better way to appreciate the largest natural lake in Northumberland than to walk to it via the surrounding wetlands, pasture and woodland, binoculars on hand to spot osprey, insects, otters, and a whole host of wetland birds. A highlight of this circular walk is the 500-metre boardwalk over the peat and reedbeds – a top spot for wildlife sightings.

Distance: 3.8 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Holiday Hideaway | Sleeps 2

Hareshaw Linn Waterfall

Hareshaw Linn Waterfall

The refreshing sight of the 10-metre-high Hareshaw Linn Waterfall - one of the best waterfalls in Northumberland - is more than enough reward on this leafy walk along the river of Hareshaw Burn. The damp environment is ripe for over 300 types of mosses, liverworts and lichen to flourish, and amongst the trees you may be treated to sightings of red squirrels and woodpeckers.

Distance: 3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Brookside Cottage | Sleeps 2

Elsdon Village

Elsdon Burn Walk

A great choice for families looking for easy walks in Northumberland National Park, this 3.5-mile circular route takes in the pretty Elsdon Burn with several other points of interest along the way. Enjoy the splendid views from Gallow Hill and reward everyone with a drink in the Bird in Bush pub on your return to the village of Elsdon.

Distance: 3.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Weavers Cottage – Northumberland | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

College Valley in the Cheviot Hills

Three Forts Foray

Including a steep climb up to the Great Hetha hillfort, this walk takes in two other hillforts in the College Valley, with stunning views to take your mind off catching your breath when you reach each one! A lovely, scenic walk in the Cheviot Hills.

Distance: 5.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Northumbria Heights | Sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Drake Stone

Drake Stone and Harbottle

Steeped in myth and legend, the Drake Stone is the focus of this pleasant walk which has a shorter (3-mile) option if you’re not feeling too energetic. The walk takes you up to Drake Stone, a huge sandstone boulder which was thought to have healing powers and then onwards through forest, past sections of the River Coquet, and back through the village of Harbottle. History enthusiasts can tack on a look around the ruins of 12th-century Harbottle Castle.

Distance: 5 or 3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Tapestry Cottage | Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs


Dunsdale to West Hill

Specifically created for the RAF100 celebrations, along this walk you will visit three Second World War aircraft crash sites within the Cheviot Hills. As Northumberland National Park walking routes go, this is one of the more challenging, climbing 1,773 feet along the way.

Distance: 5 miles

Difficulty: Strenuous

Stay nearby: The Cottage At Bridgend Farm | Sleeps 12 + 1 dog

Stay with us in Northumberland

You’ve got your itinerary and walking boots ready to go, now you just need somewhere to stay! Our collection of cottages in Northumberland National Park provide the perfect base for you to explore. From warming wood burners to sunny enclosed gardens, you’re sure to find your ideal home away from home.

Northumberland National Park cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.