Jon Monks was a former hill shepherd before turning his passion for walking into a full-time job. He created Shepherds Walks 11 years ago and the company has grown into the largest walking provider in Northumberland.
In that time Jon also bought a sock business. Capricorn Mohair Socks is now the second largest producer of its kind in the UK, supplying more than 50 retailers around the world and selling more than 20,000 pairs of socks each year. Here Jon shares his affection for his adopted county and also some of Northumberland’s best kept secrets
How long have you lived in Northumberland?: Seventeen years in total now.
What is it about the county that appeals to you?: The emptiness of the countryside, the large skies that Northumberland has to offer and the friendliest people who you meet wherever you go.
What’s your favourite Northumberland beauty spot?: This is a hard one. I am very fond of the beach to the south of Bamburgh, such an iconic place, but also so empty.
Do you have a favourite walk?: Without a shadow of doubt, Windy Gyle – a truly superb walk in the heart of The Cheviot Hills.
The list of places to visit is endless. But some are more special than others. A trip to Northumberland wouldn’t be complete without….?: A short walk around Cragside Estate. Lord Armstrong chose a great place and made it better; it is so different to anything else we have in Northumberland. We do the Cragside Challenge there every year and the feedback we get is superb.
Is locally produced Northumbrian food the best?: No doubt. It is great to see so many more butchers and restaurants selling and preparing local produce.
Do you have a preferred place to eat out in the county and why?: I am a big fan of the Coquetvale in Rothbury. What’s better that a superb pasta dish, followed by cheese, then a pint at The Queen’s Head Hotel on the way home. My perfect evening.
Northumbrians are renowned for the warm welcome they offer holidaymakers and day trippers alike. What do you think is the secret ingredient for this friendliness?: I always say that Northumbrians don’t see many people. This is why they are so friendly, they have to over compensate it when they do see someone.
Coast or country?: Country, but I would say that. The Cheviots form a spectacular backdrop to the drive along the A697 in north Northumberland.
Your favourite historical site?: Bamburgh Castle.
And the best road to take a leisurely and scenic drive along?: I like driving from Cornhill in the Borders to Morpeth along the A697 – it’s a great driving road and the views are amazing.
What would be your perfect day out in Northumberland?: Walking with my girlfriend and children and the dogs either along the beach at Bamburgh or around the old Carriage Drive at Debdon, Rothbury.
Category: Northumberland Best Kept Secrets