40 Rothbury – Uswayford

Rothbury to Uswayford 19.5 miles (31.2Km.)

Impressive stone step stile

Impressive stone step stile

Setting off from Rothbury there were other walkers sharing my path but most were on a local circuit. I encouraged one group to don their waterproof gear hoping that this would cause the shower to be light and I could avoid the inconvenience of clothing up. It worked, as it often does.

Footbridge over the River Coquet at Thropton

Footbridge over the River Coquet at Thropton

I was soon on a path walked a couple of years back while on the ‘Inn Way to Northumberland’ which had been a pleasant walk up the coast for two glorious days and then like the GEW a bit of a challenge inland across the hills, more of this later. The duplication didn’t last for long as the GEW takes the riverside path at Thropton where some kind soul has highlighted with spray paint the numerous piles of dog mess along the path.

It was a pleasant afternoon walk across farmland which lightened my mood. Houses and farms were dotted along the way and the ridge walk across Trewhitt Moor to Sharperton Edge offered good views to north and south. The guide has tried hard to educate me on the botany along the way, sadly this passes me by but having had association with a narrow boat named ‘Ragged Robin’ I can recognise this tatty pink flower and here was a small clump for me to admire.

Alwinton on the long road to nowhere

Alwinton on the long road to nowhere

At the end of a long day the section of road into Harbottle was a welcome relief not a burden. Along this road the GEW rejoined the Inn Way route which it shared over the substantial footbridge crossing the Coquet for access to a pleasant and easy track walk also used by the Border County Ride into Alwinton.

Zooming out on the map the GEW from Elsdon to Alwinton takes a loop first east, then north then west. I’d spotted this and parked the car at Alwinton in the morning then took the much shorter direct road to Elsdon by bike to start the walk. So I now drove along the same roads and collected the bike. Job done for another day.

Whittingham Pele Tower

Whittingham Pele Tower

Next day was a little more complicated. I left the car at Whittingham, cycled to Alwinton then after arrival at Wooler caught a bus back to Whittingham collected the car and drove to Alwinton to collect the bike. While in Whittingham I spotted a splendid Pele Tower to equal the one at Elsdon but with a secret

Usway Burn

Usway Burn

Back on the walk which now follows Chennell Street and is a very pleasant route, even the sections through woodland have wide stoned tracks. Still on the Border County Ride but not a horse, bike or rambler in sight, I have this vase wilderness to myself. The bright new bridge crossing the Usway Burn is an impressive structure in this isolated location especially with so little water in the Burn. I climb to meet other paths, all bridleways here but a stile offers a seat so I pause to take in the view and consume a brunch sandwich.

Uswayford Farm in the trees

Uswayford Farm in the trees

Some joker has relocated a sign here warning that illegal users with motorised vehicles will be caught because “The police are monitoring this public right of way”, by helicoper perhaps? Uswayford Farm is now within view nestling at the end of the valley among trees. A welcome B&B close to a long and inhospitable section of the Pennine Way but on arrival the farm is empty and in the window a sign from Grays the Chartered Surveyors ‘To Let’. Another farm seeking a new tenant to renew the ‘Walkers Welcome’ sign at the door. Looks like it has been empty now for over four years (2011).

I’m becoming depressed, it appears that so many of the good things about walking are disappearing. Youth Hostels close, Inns disappear, farms are abandoned and the quirky features are replaced with Health and Safety a priority. The one good thing is that the paths are generally improving, new stiles easy opening gates and some excellent bridges plus waymarking which all results in more footfall and then the paths become apparent on the ground.

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Great English Walk map of section 40

Great English Walk map of section 40

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 40

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 40


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