Belford-Swinhoe Farm-St. Cuthbert's cave_ Belford :Circular walk - Northumberland

Belford -St. Cuthbert's Cave

Circular walk

Belford- Swinhoe Farm-Cockenheugh-St.Cuthbert's cave- Swinhoe Farm-Craggy Farm-Belford

12km (7.5Miles) 5.25 hours

Location OS Landranger sheet 75 NU 106338

How to get there Park at side of the road beside the terraced houses opposite the Community Club on the Wooler road in Belford

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Start:- Cross the road and take the narrow lane to the left of the Community Club
This Castellated farmhouse stands on the barmkin of what is considered to be the site of Belford Castle. It is thought by some that the site of the pill box seen on the horizon might have been the more likely site.
Follow the lane to where it passes over a stream and take the gate to the left. Follow the path beside the stream and continue to a kissing gate where the walk turns to the right and follows the fence.
The Hag
Arthur working on the wall and confirming we were "on course".
Beyond the track that leads to Craggy Farm (seen to your right) the path makes its way up and slightly left over the brow of a hill.

There is a signpost beside a wall where the path may go along the wall or over the brow to the left. Take the left route.

The path drops down to a stile on your left, follow the right side of the field beyond to reach a further stile.

The path now makes its way through field margins and some scrubby ground in an almost straight line to Swinhoe Farm.

Through the farm yard take the broad lane up to the left and follow it beyond Dick's Walls passing through two gates.

Through the gate into the woodland the track continues around to the right.

It passes along the west side of Cockenheugh Crags the views accross to Cheviot are excellent and there are some wonderful sandstone outcrops with easy access from the path further along,these are well worth an exploration. We took the opportunity to have our "half-way" picnic here.

Back down to the track follow it right, round and through a broken fence beside a wooden gate into the National Trust area surrounding St. Cuthbert's cave. This is well worth the visit, it is quite a large cave and seems to be supported by a small stub of sandstone.

It has obviously been visited as a tourist spot for many years to judge by the dates on the Grafitti, (One shown here is 1752)

When St. Cuthbert's remains were carried from the ruins of Lindisfarne Abbey by the clerks, they being all that remained of that religious community the others having fled, in order to bring it at that time to Chester le Street as a place of safety, they are said to have rested at this cave on their journey. St. Cuthbert's remains were later to be moved to Durham Cathedral where they still lie.

Take the path up to the left of St. Cuthberts and use the stile over the wire fence. follow the fence up to the right onto a path climbing up and right it follows over the hill to a wooden gate.

Through this gate there is another gate immediately on the left into a field where the St. Cuthbert's Way turns immediatly left down the hill.

Before going down the hill it is worth a climb up onto the crags to the left the southern outcrop of Greedsheen hill where views both to east and west are superb.

Follow the lightly marked path, there are waymarkers, through a doublegate at the bottom of the hill and over another brow. The walk now goes to join the track running across in front of the crags to your right. Cross over to it where it is most convenient.

This track leads round into woodland and past Swinhoe lakes they are on private land and only Upper Swinhoe Lake is visible. The track leads back to Swinhoe Farm

Back at Swinhoe Farm turn left and follow the road down to where there is a Y junction, the track to the right being grassy and the direction to take. The pathway to take us back to Belford through Square Wood is a few hundred yards down this track and is clearly signed.

Before taking the turn right a few yard further down the track is a delapidated barn. I just love them for their shapes and textures.

In Square wood take the right at a Y junction and proceed through a gate into a field. Continue directly ahead with Sunnyside Crag to your left through a couple of gates to Craggy Farm. This road leads directly on to Westhall Farm.

Having passed through Westhall yard turn left at the end and follow the lane back to the Wooler road in Belford.

For consideration, when using the countryside

This selection of walks in Northumberland follow recognised public rights of way or permissive paths and should be easy for most people to negotiate: but please remember that wet and winter weather can make paths muddy in places and the summer months produce fresh growth of vegetation - so wear suitable clothing and footwear.

If on any of these walks you find obstructions, or damage to stiles or footbridges which make paths impassible, please report these details as soon as possible to the countryside department of the Local or National Park authority responsible for the area.

Relationships between local farmers and those who use the footpaths are generally very good and there is no reason why they should not remain so given reasonable attitudes and understanding. Remember that the countryside is the farmers' livelihood, so please observe the Country Code : keep to the paths; close gates after you ; and take care not to cause damage, or leave litter; keep your dog under control; and leave all wild flowers for others to enjoy.

Taken from: Country Walks in East Tynedale by Philip R. B. Brooks (1978) NBM Sept 2009

Dogs in the countryside :-

On Rights of Way - Dogs must be kept under close control, preferably on a short lead.

On Access Land - 1) Keep your dog on a short lead from 1 March to 31 July this to protect ground nesting birds from disturbance

2) Local restrictions may include a ban on dogs.

3) Note that restrictions do not apply to Guide/Hearing dogs, or if you are using a public right of way

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