Harbottle Wood and the Drake Stone
Harbottle Wood and the Drake Stone is a walk in one of the loveliest parts of Northumberland, around the old and peculiarly named village of Harbottle. It takes in the impressive Drake Stone, that sits on the hill overlooking the village. This is a huge single block of sandstone that, in the very distant past, was part of the rocky outcrop close to where it now lies.
|Grade:||Difficult (Distance and hills)|
|This walk is on OS map Explorer OL16 The Cheviot Hills. Click on map image to buy this map.|
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The Start – Harbottle West Wood
We will start the walk a little way out of Harbottle, at the West Wood. There is a short steep climb to the point where we exit the Wood onto the Harbottle Hills. There is a seat here, with a wonderful view, if you need a rest before carrying on.
We continue up into the heather and onto the top of the hills. You will see the Drake Stone on the way.
The Drake Stone
At the top of the hill are the crags and sitting on the south side is the Drake Stone. Whilst it is just a large rock, it is still impressive. If you aren’t interested in the rock itself, the views are spectacular.
Even the view towards Otterburn Range is wonderful and this is highlighted by Harbottle Lake.
The path alongside Harbottle Lake takes a sharp right by the warning sign for the Range. There is possibility of encountering live ordnance beyond this point, so best avoid it. The scenery changes to woodland here and the path becomes more enclosed.
Eventually, this path emerges to give a great view of Otterburn Range. The post is where the red flag would be hanging, if the range was active.
The path descends down a track called The Swire and back to the road.
Turning left onto the road, we cross our first bridge over the Coquet. A little time to rest and enjoy the views of the Coquet and the Cheviot Hills past Alwinton.
A little way past the bridge we turn right to follow the river downstream. This path passes a very well preserved limekiln, as it gently climbs up to Park House, a farm at the top of the hill. It is at this point that we get one of the best views of the walk.
From this spot you can see the hills in the distance, with the Coquet flowing below. The sheep ambling about the meadow add to the serenity. A perfect place to sit and enjoy a snack.
Hobs Knowe and Ferny Wood
The walk down through Hob’s Knowe and Ferny Wood is easy and very pretty. There are wild flowers and trees everywhere and no animals.
Soon we reach the bridge towards the newer Harbottle Castle. Not really a castle but more of a stately home. We take the road back towards Harbottle but then veer left and walk a short distance down the road and to a path up to Harbottle Wood.
We take a lovely woodland track through Harbottle Wood, enjoying the easy walking before meeting a road that heads towards Holystone. Just outside Holystone, we take a path through a gate to Lady’s Well.
Lady’s Well is actually the water supply for Holystone but the setting is much more than a typical well. It was originally a watering place for the adjacent Roman road. It is rumoured that St Ninian used to baptise early Christians here. There have been many embellishments since it was originally a watering place by a Roman road.
Leaving here we take a different route back to Harbottle.
Back at Harbottle
Up until recently there was very little in the way of facilities at Harbottle. However, The Star Inn has been substantially redeveloped and offers not only a pub, but a shop and a restaurant. We will be partaking of refreshments here, if you wish to join us.
We look forward to you joining us for this walk.
Julie and Martin x
Gallery – Harbottle Wood and Drake Stone
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