Rothbury Travel and Tourism Information
Nestled along the banks of the River Coquet (pronounced Co-ket) in the shadow of the striking Simonside Hills, Rothbury is one of Northumberland’s prettiest market towns.
Known as the Capital of Coquetdale, it’s more like a large village than a market town, however. Indeed, while Rothbury has a Townfoot, locals tend to refer to it as a village – albeit one with more amenities than many larger places.
It boasts two schools, a library, a mart, a hospital, a thriving high street with many award-winning home-grown shops, numerous pubs, restaurants, bed and breakfasts and hotels and its own town football team.
Thanks to its location amidst some of Northumberland’s most stunning countryside (the Cheviots are only a short drive away while the Simonside Hills and Blaeberry Hill dominate the immediate view) Rothbury has become a magnet for walkers.
The view from the top of the Simonside Hills with their distinctive craggy escarpment, is especially spectacular. Rising to more than 1,400 feet, the panorama stretches from the North East coast 20 miles away north to the Cheviots and thence Scotland, and even as far as the Lake District on a clear day.
But if striding to the top of Simonside seems too much like hard work, there are plenty of gentle walks along the attractive River Coquet (try nipping across the stepping stones from one bank to the other), or even around Rothbury itself.
The village dates back to at least Anglo Saxon times, although there is plenty of evidence that man had picked this steep sided but fertile valley out as a favoured spot many thousands of years before. The area is littered with hill forts, cairns, burial mounds and rock art.At Lordenshaws on a track leading towards Simonside off the B6342, is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Northumberland National Park – an Iron Age camp.
The remains of round huts can still be seen, along with some remarkably well preserved cup and ring marks carved into the rocks.
During the 15th and 16th centuries Rothbury came under unwelcome scrutiny from border Reivers – the lawless clans that roamed the no-man’s land between England and Scotland – and was attacked, burnt and rebuilt with terrifying frequency.
Things had calmed down by the time the famous Tyneside industrialist and inventor, Lord Armstrong, decided to build himself a country mansion on the outskirts of Rothbury in the 19th century.
Cragside, which is built in the steep valley of the Debdon Burn, was a marvel of its age. The first house to be lit by hydro-electricity, Armstrong was the gadget man of his time and packed his home with labour saving devices.
So famous was Cragside – which is now in the hands of the National Trust – that Royalty even came to wonder at Armstrong’s genius.
With 1,000 acres of forest, moorland and gardens to explore, it is doubtful Armstrong’s guests ever felt the need to stray far from Rothbury.
But the town is the ideal base for exploring further afield with the beautiful north Northumberland coast with its castles, sandy beaches and Holy Island only a short drive away, as are the Cheviots, Scottish Border, Hadrian’s Wall, Kielder forest and its lake.
Where is Rothbury?:
See the map on our Northumberland maps page.