We didn't have fixed plans for today, so once we'd had dinner last night we started to do a bit more research on the local area. In the course of doing so, I came across the Northumberland National Park website, which has a useful facility to search for walking routes based on distance and level of difficulty. I came up with a few possible options and we narrowed it down to the Drake Stone and Harbottle walk, which was described as being a moderate circular walk
Northumberland is a huge county and so the starting point for the walk, a Forestry Commission car park just outside the village of Harbottle, was a 44 mile drive away. It was a very scenic drive though and the weather seemed to be holding up okay, with only a few spots of rain as we got closer to our destination.
We parked the car and began following an uphill track, which was signposted as "Drake Stone".
I was slightly unnerved when we passed a sign which seemed to imply that we were near a Ministry of Defence shooting range.
The landscape was very scenic though, as we continued to climb higher.
I maybe hadn't read the walk instructions attentively enough to appreciate quite how much uphill there was at the start of the walk, and so when we reached this cairn I thought perhaps we were at the top.
I certainly felt out of breath enough for this to be the top
It turned out there was still quite a way for us to go. Our destination, the Drake Stone, was the large rock on the top of this hill.
The path upwards was quite narrow and a bit challenging in places...
...with lots of rocks to clamber over.
But eventually we made it to the Drake Stone!
Legend says that this large stone has supernatural healing powers.
Our path led us around the stone and down towards a small lake.
There were several other large rocks in the landscape. I had a great view from this one
The route led us down towards the shore of the lake.
The instructions for the walk warned us to stay on the path, because the shore of the lake was very boggy.
As we walked we had great views back towards the Drake Stone on the horizon.
I was slightly disconcerted by another warning sign as we began to leave the lake behind and climb uphill again, towards a forest.
The path carried on straight through the forest for quite some time.
At times it was a bit muddy underfoot, though there were often logs placed to help you find your way across. Some were easier to balance on than others!
After a while the path began to lead quite steeply downhill.
Sometimes a bit too steeply for my liking
If this was a moderate walk then I was glad we hadn't chosen a difficult one!
Once we left the forest behind us, the path widened out to a much easier trail.
The views across the Northumberland national park were really beautiful.
The path was leading us downhill, towards a village and the main road.
A sign had warned that there was a bull in the field, but luckily we only met these rather placid cows.
We crossed the main road and followed another path alongside the river Coquet.
This part of the walk seemed far more relaxing
As we strolled through the fields we realised we could see up to the Drake Stone, on top of a hill on the opposite side of the river.
The final bit of the walk took us back across the river, to the small village of Harbottle. The weather was getting a bit cloudier by this point, but we just managed to sit outside in the beer garden of the local pub for a quick drink and then walk back up the road to the forest car park before any drops of rain fell
Unfortunately, the weather forecast doesn't look too good for tomorrow, so this might be the end of our adventures in Northumberland for now. But we've really enjoyed visiting this part of the world again and I feel like we'll be back again at some point in the future