There are two hills either side of Rothbury, the larger is called Simonside. It is a very popular walk and at this time of year the car parks were pretty busy.
However we do not drive to the start of the walk, we walk from the house. It is about two miles to Simonside, making the total distance just under 11 miles.
We started with a clear sunny sky, but it gradually clouded over throughout the morning.
There are two circular walks from the main car park. One is about four miles long and level all the way. The second is about twice as long, and is not at all level. We did, of course, opt for the second one.
We were quite surprised to find that the well signed tracks were really busy, more like the Lake District in summer rather than a local Rothbury walk.
Most were walking in small groups, and all had coloured tags on their haversacks. All were walking in the same direction as we were. It did not take us long to discover that they were talking part in an organised walk.
There is a local walking group called Shepard’s Walks who offer regular guides walks of 6-8 miles for £12-£15 per head. They also organise challenge walks, and we choose the day when they offer the 15 mile Coquet Valley Challenge Walk at £25 per head.
They had started the walk from Rothbury and up Cragside before following our route, so they had already got a few miles more in than we did. So we were walking at about the same pace and only noticed how many there were when we had a water or photo stop.
By lunchtime the sun had disappeared and there was a strong, cold Northern wind. We were determined to have our picnic with a view, but did not sit for long.
Most of the other walkers were wiser than us. Being local they knew to avoid the high and exposed peaks and have their lunch on the way down sheltered by one of the many large rock formations
Having completed our circuit of Simonside were then had a long, pleasant, downhill walk back to Rothbury.
On the way we passed this picturesque isolated tower in the middle of nowhere. It appeared to be a typical English folly, though it was in very good condition.
We were pleased that it had this plaque with a description of its history and aim. It struck us as very English that the Rev Sharp had built it “for the relief of unemployed local stonemasons” No mention of when it was last used as an observatory.
Despite the weather, and the larger than normal number of walkers, we enjoyed the day. According to my satnav there was a total ascent of 780 metres. It took us six hours at a very gentle pace, and we finished with an ice cream by the river in Rothbury.