A journey to the College Valley.
Not many people have heard of the College Valley and still fewer have ever explored it. There
are over 12,000 acres of wilderness which encompass the Cheviot itself as well as some of the most beautiful
scenery in the North of England.
The approach to the Valley.
We start our journey at the market town of Wooler which appropriately calls itself the gateway
to the Cheviots. Taking the A697 north for Coldstream you leave the town behind. To your right the Millfield
plain stretches towards Berwick. This used the bed of a large lake in prehistoric times. Now it is a fertile
and beautiful area. If you look to your right you will soon see the “battle stone” standing proud just off
the road. This is said to commemorate the battle of Homildon Hill back in September 1402. A lesser know conflict than the one at Flodden
which is just a few miles to the north and some 111 years later in 1513.
Shortly you will come to Akeld which is recognisable through the “Flags” as the locals call
it. Here you turn left onto the B6351 signed for Kirk Yetholm. Akeld has a small bastle house just behind the main
Yeavering is the next village. Well known as the site of a Saxon Royal palace and the hill to
the left of you which is Yeavering Bell with its substantial hill fort.
Ad Gefrin is a field to your right. There is a large memorial and a sculptured gatepost but
little else to see. The monument on the hill further away is nothing to do with Ad Gefrin but dates back to
the Napoleonic wars in the early 19th century.
Kirknewton with its ancient church is the next village. The church is named after Saint
Gregory and houses an lovely relief of the adoration of the Magi...only they are wearing kilts. It is also
where Josephine Butler is buried. She was a brave social reformer from the
Just past Kirknewton you are now driving alongside the old
railway line which used to run into Scotland. “The old station house” is on your right. One of these houses
has had it’s front gate bricked up to act as a flood defence.
You will now cross a bridge over the College burn. Look down to see how full the river is. The
modern house the right has had to have rather large flood defences erected beside the river.
The small hamlet of Westnewton is now on your left. There will be a signpost for Hethpool and
you need to make this left turn. At the next corner make sure that you bear left past the studio of the
artist Peter Podmore. You are now on a one way track into the College Valley.
Entering the Valley
As you drive along this single road look down to your right. The valley here is often filled
with sheep and looks very verdant. However the rainfall around here can be very peculiar and often this part
is dry as a bone.
As you approcah the top of the hill look to your right. There is a small plantation here
called "Trafalgar woods" and it was planted in 2005 to
commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar and Admiral Collingwood who once owned the Valley. To your left, the
small hill, with stunted oak trees is Collingwood bell..and it was here
that the Admiral's wife planted acorns in the hope that they would grow into large trees to be of use in the
As the road starts to drop down towards the valley stop to admire the view. It is rather
special. Also make a note of a small lay by on your right hand side. This is a good parking place if you
wanted to explore Whitehill on your right. From here you get some great views south into the
The field on your left is used in the Spring as a lambing field.
At the bottom of the hill take the road as it forks left. The right hand road will take you to
Elsdonburn and then onto Trowupburn. It is also a dead
You have also just joined the path for St Cuthberts walk. The pilgrims would start in Kelso
and having just crossed the border above Kirk Yetholm they are now walking past Hethpool and on towards
You are now driving on the private road owned by College Valley estates. The avenue of trees
will bring you into Hethpool. Look out for the red post box on your left. See how it faces towards the estate
house and away from the road! The tree lined drive on your left goes to Hethpool house and there is also an
access gate for the man made lake. Note the lovely summer
house on the left of the drive about half way down.
The road now takes a sharp right beside the art and craft cottages built in the early 20th
On your left is a gate and cattle grid. This road leads down to Hethpool Mill. It is also the access point for the walk along the eastern side of
the valley as well as the Newton tors and onto Wooler.
Pass over another cattle grid and you come to a car park on your left. If you don't have a
pass then you need to leave your car here.
The field on your right has the rather scant remains on a stone circle. It is also where the
annual College Valley fete is held. The hill to your right is Great Hetha. To
your left, eastwards, you are looking towards the Newton tors.
Note the remains of the old farm at Harrowbog.
Into the valley proper
As you drive along and below Great Hetha ( to your right ) spare a moment to admire the gorse
which covers the valley floor below you. In the summer the gorse gives off a heady vanilla smell-
Shortly after you have crossed a small bridge at Cresswell woods ( a small plantation planted
to commemorate the retirement of Charles Baker-Cresswell who was the chairman of College Valley Estates ) you
will see a forestry road on your right. This takes you to Trowupburn and it makes a wonderful low level
circular walk past Trowupburn, Elsdonburn and back to Hethpool.
The next house on your left is Whitehall with great
views down the valley.
As the road flattens out look into the field on your right. Here you will see a small wooden
chalet. Reputedly built in the early 20th century ( late 19th?) to allow an old lady to recover from TB. She
had been advised to convalesc in Switzerland but wanted to stay in England and came to the valley for clean
Soon you will come to Cuddystone Hall. Built in
the early 1960's as a community hall it is available for private hire or for weddings. There is also a memorial
to airmen who died when their planes crashed in the Cheviots during WW2.
At this point you have two options, the YHA at Mounthooley or up into the
Take the right hand fork for the YHA hostel at Mounthooley. You will pass Fleahope and just before Mounthooley you can park to the right
and then climb the Schil. After this follow the Pennine way round and drop back
down just after Red Cribs and the Mountain Rescue hut. It is worth looking for the
grass roofed small house just before you reach Fleehope. It is on your left.
Lambden Valley road.
Cross the College burn over the Sutherland bridge. Pass Southernknowe farm on your
right. One of the houses here , the Old School house, is available for rent. The road now climbs and narrows.
Soon you will come to Coldburn on the right and below the road.
This road between the College and the Lambden valleys is quite a delight in the
evenings.With the sound of the water and the occassional sheep nearby you can sit beside the stream and just
enjoy the peace and tranquility.
Soon you will cross the stream, just below Dunsdale crags. The road then climbs
steeply and you are now in the Lambden valley. Dunsdale house with Bizzle crags behind is to your right. Follow the road to
Goldsceugh at the end.
Guide to the College Valley by Colin Corlett
A guide to the College Valley, accommodation and wilderness in Northumberland
Welcome to this secret value on the Border with Scotland
Hethpool,North Northumberland,United Kingdom Written for visitors to the Valley as well as those seeking other data sources
Updated August 13th 2013