Whitefield Hill - 2022
We had a great turnout for this walk, so much so we filled the car park as we met at Tosson Lime Kiln.
After quick introductions we started the steep climb up through Great Tosson up onto the Simonside Hills, we initially followed the route of the Coquet Valley Challenge walk.
The views looking North to the Cheviot Hills where second to none, the cold crisp winter air made for stunning panoramic views.
Upon reaching our highpoint on Simonside (just below the summit) we then skirted into Harwood Forest.
The carnage from the recent storms was all around us, with trees lying on their sides, a real wakeup call on how severe the recent storms have been in Northumberland.
Just before Chartners we stopped for a well deserved lunch.
Hidden away in the heart of Harwood Forest, 20 miles northwest of Morpeth, Chartners Farm is well and truly off the grid. It's a five-mile drive along forest tracks from the nearest road.
All electricity is generated by a wind turbine and solar panels, certainly a secluded, off grid self-catering accommodation for those who want to get away from everything.
We then climbed up through the forest left it by passing through a gate onto Whitefield Hill.
Over recent years this has turned into one of my favourite walk locations, away from the crowds with a very different view of the Coquet Valley.
We then started dropping down through Hepple Whitefield.
Hepple is a 4,000 acre estate that has been gently managed for sheep, cattle, forestry and game birds for centuries. Their management plan will attempt to build the vigour and interrelationships of the natural networks.
What they are doing in this area is often referred as rewilding.
Their cattle are being allowed to graze almost anywhere on the estate, from the highest point of the Simonside, down to the Coquet Haugh. You experience this as many of the gates are open to enable the livestock to roam free.
These animals will be our “drivers”, our disruptors, breaking through the pasture-sward to allow a diversity of shrubs to emerge. They are left outside all year and except in the hardest winters will not have supplementary feed.
We then continued to drop down and soon reached Caistron Lake. This 50 acre nature reserve is one of the hidden gems of the Coquet Valley, making for some great walking.
On arriving back at Tosson Lime Kiln the group where enthused about the walk. We could have not asked for better weather and the company and companionship of the group made for a walk to remember.