Writer and walking guide Patrick Norris has crafted this colour piece about a recent walk into the Ingram Valley, one of the county’s best kept secrets in Northumberland National Park.
Many parts of England and Wales have had heavy rain in recent weeks. But in most parts of Northumberland the weather has remained dry with a cool north easterly wind. This spring weather mean that we were able to enjoy a walk in the wild side of the Ingram Valley, in Northumberland National Park, in perfect conditions.
We departed from Hartside Farm and took paths and bridleways into wide open country. We made our objective the summit of Little Dodd and headed in that direction. Little Dodd is a small hill which for the most part is in the shadow of Shill Moor to the north.
Northumberland’s Ingram Valley
Further on from Little Dod is the Salter’s Road. This is an ancient track – a trading route in fact – which saw a lot of traffic in years gone by. It was used for transporting salt which, before the days of refrigeration, was a valuable commodity indeed. Decades and centuries ago lines of pack horses would have made there way along this road and were a very a common sight to the people living close by.
Sheep and cattle also went up and down the valley. But today there are only faint shadows of those times. However, it’s fascinating to imaging what it would have been like in those days.
The Salter’s Road leads into Bleakhope. Bleakhope is a very remote hill farm – one of those places where you have to stop and praise the sheer tenacity of the farmers working in this part of the world.
Close by the River Breamish is starting journey. Further down in the Ingram Valley the river looks very different. It is much wider whereas here we can almost jump or step across it with no difficulty.
Lunch time seems to arrive quickly and we stop for some food and drink. Looking around we have the thrill of seeing oyster catchers, sandpipers and grey wagtails. Above us, a sparrow hawk does its deadly work. Out of the blue, a peregrine falcon swoops around, but not on a killing mission this time. Instead it is impressing a mate. For us of course lunch was much easier to find.
After a well-earned break we headed up towards the top of High Cantle. We kept going towards the summit and the grouse moor high above the River Breamish. Before us stretched this magnificent and we walked towards on Linhope Spout, roughly three kilometres away.
At spring time the elevated moors in Northumberland are delightful for birdwatchers. We could see lapwings, together in pairs, flying an amazing courtship display. They make their ‘peewit’ call and flash the highly contrasting black and white over the heather – very striking to behold. Finally there were many, many curlews – the birds that share the moors with lapwings. We could hear their lilting call giving a final touch to the magic of the untamed Northumbrian uplands.
We got to the mighty waterfall that is Linhope Spout. It falls some 40ft (12 metres) over a rocky ledge into an enormous and foaming pool of cold fresh water. With the recent rain Linhope Spout looked impressive indeed. Lots of photos were taken so that our group would have some impressive visual references of this day to revisit another time.
The Ingram Valley is spectacular, and one of the most impressive places in Britain. You can get the fullest possible experience out of a trip to the valley by going with a guide. You won’t have to worry about getting lost in this remote and magical place and you time here will be enlivened with details about wildlife, history, stories, and myths about one of Northumberland’s most beautiful valleys.
Category: Northumberland Walker's Guide