Nestled in the heart of the Northumberland National Park, the Breamish Valley is nothing less than delightful. The eponymous river flows gently through the valley, making this a prime choice for picnicking families, and the more adventurous can wander further to discover the ethereal waterfall Linhope Spout. For me though, the main temptation was the cluster of hillforts dotted along the valley. I was desperate to get up there and see what was left of these impressive structures, and to take in the view that must be relatively unchanged from the time when the hillforts were inhabited, over two thousand years ago.
The Breamish Hillfort Trail can be found online on the Northumberland National Park website, but we discovered it in my trusty Pocket Mountains guide to Northumberland. Of the two routes available online, we did the shorter route, as we were stopping off on our way home from a week in the area – you can read all about it on my blog Northumberland: North of the Wall.
This walk is an absolutely wonderful way to spend a morning or an afternoon. The initial climb up Brough Law gets your heart pumping, but from here on it is a gentle stroll along grassy paths, with very little steep ascent or descent. Parking was free in Bulby’s Wood Car Park (prepare to be confused and lost trying to find it if you don’t know where it is already), where there is space for a small number of cars, as well as a mini National Park centre with public toilers.
This is a fantastic walk for any history geeks. On several of the hillforts you can see the outlines on the ground where timber roundhouses used to be. The structures were originally built around 2,300 years ago – pretty mind blowing. You can also see some surviving cultivation terraces, which I was delighted by, having never seen one apart from in photos. I spent quite a long time perched on the boundary wall of Brough Law trying to imagine what it must have been like to live in a hillfort in the Iron Age – it was pretty impossible to even try wrapping my head around it, but I think I got closer than I ever have reading about it in a text book.
Northumberland is a secret treasure trove of interesting historical landscape – the concentration of hillforts in the Breamish Valley is just the tip of the iceberg. During the week we spent in Northumberland we also visited the hillforts at Yeavering Bell and Doddington, the ancient Anglo-Saxon settlements of Ad Gefrin and Bamburgh and the fascinating prehistoric cup and ring marks on Doddington Moor. Doddington in particular is a fantastic day out if you love historic landscapes, with the hillforts and cup and ring marks already mentioned, as well as the remains of a prehistoric stone circle.
Dog friendly rating – 3/5. There are sheep throughout so we kept our dogs on the lead for the whole walk – better to be safe than sorry! The is also no water once you leave the car park, so carry some extra for your dog, especially if it’s hot and sunny. We got blue skies but we did do this walk at the start of November so it wasn’t quite as warm as it might look in these photos!
A big plus on this walk is the total absence of any kind of stile or object that would require you to lift your dog over – something we appreciate a lot more since we got Coal! Make sure you head down to the river when you get back to the car park to give water loving dogs the opportunity for a paddle.
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