Bellingham is a fantastic base for walkers as it forms part of the 268 mile Pennine Way route from Edale, in the northern Derbyshire Peak District, north through the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park and ends at Kirk Yetholm, just inside the Scottish border.
History Walk Around Bellingham
A walk around the village taking in some of the main historical highlights
Start: at the entrance to Hareshaw Linn Car Park.
This car park serves visitors who wish to walk the mile and a half up Hareshaw Linn Waterfall. This has been a popular tourist attraction for many years and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI). The hills you can see around you behind the modern industrial estate are terraces where the old iron foundry furnaces processed ore from mines up Hareshaw Linn in the 1800s. This area is now a scheduled ancient monument.
When you’re done, walk away from the car park towards the main road and the village. On your left you will pass the Mechanic’s Institute, which is a green corrugated iron building. This was built in 1896 with money given by Charles Morrison-Bell and public subscription. Nowadays it is a local snooker club.
At the main road, turn right and cross the old stone bridge over Hareshaw Burn. When you get to the main road, turn right.
On your right you will see the Methodist Church, built in 1896 with stone provided by Earl Percy. It cost £1,300 to build and was designed by William Welton of Humshaugh. The church was dedicated in a special service at Easter 1897.
Continue walking on this side of the road and you will walk past Fountain Terrace. Kendal House is a private residence now but over the years it has been a shop, Post Office, hairdressers and temperance hotel and cafe! Further up the terrace you’ll pass Armoury House, so named because this is where the guns were issues to local volunteer soldiers going off to the First World War.
Keep on walking along this side of the road. The pavement turns into a grass verge. Up a short incline you’ll see an old stone bridge. Head towards this. As you walk, look to your right. In the distance you’ll see the ‘Blue Heaps’ on the hills above Bellingham. This is a spoil heap from the coke ovens at Foundry Yard and transported by wagon way up to where you can now see them. You’ll also see Bellingham Golf Club - an 18 hole course reputed to be one of the best in the North - which was founded in 1893. In front of the Golf Club land you’ll see a section of parkland with a football pitch. This is known as the Fairstead and was given over by the Dukes of Northumberland as a recreational area for the people of Bellingham.
The house at the far end of the bridge next to the Fairstead is the elementary school, founded in 1857 and known as the North British - though this is now a private residence.
When you reach the bridge, take a look at the arch. This is the last remaining railway bridge in Bellingham from the old Border Counties railway line which closed to passengers in 1956.
At the bridge, cross over the road and head back down the other side of the road towards the village centre again. The large patch of land on your right is the old Mart Field where cattle auctions were held regularly for around 100 years, but which was closed in 2004 in the wake of new rules after the devastating Foot and Mouth outbreak.
As you round the corner back onto the main street, you’ll see Fountain Cottage Cafe and B&B on your right. You’ll see a history sign as you walk past it - read it and scan the QR code for more information about its past.
When you’re done, keep on walking on this side of the road. You’ll pass a number of houses and then the old Barclays Bank building. Opposite the main shops, you’ll pass a row of white houses which form King Street. These houses date back to the early 1800s and are Grade II listed.
Keep on going past these and you’ll see the Cheviot Hotel on your right. At this point, cross the road and keep walking. To your left you will see Manchester Square. Go down the steps and you’ll see the Boer War memorial. For more information, read the history notice on the wall of the Rose and Crown Pub.
Retrace your steps and go back onto the main road. Keep on walking away from the village centre and you will see an old Chinese gingall on a stone plinth on your left just before the imposing Town Hall building. For more information on this gun, read the history notice.
Carrying on along this side of the road, you’ll pass the Town Hall itself. Built in 1862 for £600, there is more information on this building on the Parish Council history web page.
Once you’re ready, carry on past the Black Bull pub and you’ll immediately come to the Grade I listed St Cuthbert’s Church. There is a history board on the wall as you enter the grounds. Take some time to have a look around the church and the churchyard and you’ll see another history board about the local legends surrounding one of the graves - the Lang Pack.
When you’re finished here, carry on walking along the same side of the road you were on, away from the village centre. The next building on your left after St Cuthbert’s church is the Reed Hall - this was originally the Reed Trust Charity School, founded in 1750 by Miss Isobel Reed. This was used as a school from 1857 until 1950 when the school moved to its current location on Redesmouth Road. It is now run by a charitable trust that operates youth facilities from the site.
As you continue away from the village centre along the road, you will pass the Old Rectory. This was built with money raised from the estates of the Earl of Derwentwater, whose lands were confiscated after his execution for taking part in the 1715 ‘Old Pretender’s Rebellion’ and handed to the Greenwich Hospital Commission.
As you continue along this road, eventually you will pass the fire station, which serves the entire district.
The play area and park that you will come to after the fire station is known as the Jubilee Field, bought by the Parish Council in 1977 and named to commemorate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in that year. Continue to the where the road turns the corner and you’ll see the turnoff towards Kielder on your right.
Next to the road to Kielder on your right is St Oswald’s Church. This Catholic Church dates from 1839 and replaced an abandoned 1794 chapel. The church is a lancet Gothic design by Ignatius Bonomi (more famously known for his work on the first railway bridge in the world at Darlington). The £1,250 cost was mainly met by the prominent Charlton family of Hesleyside Hall (about half a mile outside of Bellingham).
While not on this route, if you follow the road to Kielder for a short distance you will come to Riverdale Hall Hotel, originally built as a mansion for a prominent railway developer in 1866 and which has now been converted into a country house hotel.
Carry on along the road towards the bridge.
On your left, opposite St Oswald’s church, you will see a small blue plaque for the Irishmen’s Graveyard. There is more information on this on the Parish Council history page.
Keep walking over the North Tyne Bridge with its great views up and down the river. This was built in 1835 and designed by Newcastle architect John Green. For more information, visit the Bellingham Parish Council history page.
Continue straight on, past the large show field on your left with its old grandstand. This used to be the site of the annual Bellingham Show - a large rural show held the last Saturday in August since 1842. The show is no longer held in this field - though it is still used for show parking.
Immediately after the show field is Bellingham cemetery. While not part of this walk, the road opposite the entrance to the cemetery takes you to Hesleyside Hall, the ancestral home of the Charlton family (a prominent border reiver family), with the current building dating from 1719 and grounds laid out by Capability Brown.
Enter the cemetery. This was consecrated in the late 1800s when the cemetery at St Cuthberts was closed. Have a walk around the cemetery. The lichgate dates from the late 1800s and is grade II listed, containing the names of all the local casualties from the First and Second World Wars. The chapel dates from the early 1900s and is used for non-denominational funeral ceremonies.
Once you have looked around the cemetery, retrace your steps to the Jubilee Field Park. There are steps immediately after the North Tyne Bridge down into the park, or you can follow the road round and enter through the car park if you want easier access.
From here, walk along the river, away from the bridge and back towards the centre of Bellingham. The riverside walk is a peaceful section of path along a very still part of the North Tyne.
At the end of this walk, you will arrive at Bellingham Garage on your right. Immediately to your left you will see a path that runs back up a steep flight of steps towards the rear of St Cuthbert’s church. Walk to the near the base of the steps and you will see St Cuthbert’s Well (known as Cuddy’s Well locally). There is a history sign here to give you more information about this well.
While you’re here, you may notice the patch of woodland on the other side of the wall. This is the lower section of the cemetery of St Cuthbert’s church. Unfortunately over the years this has become boggy and access from the main cemetery has become hazardous, so it has been left for wildlife. More information about the lower cemetery can be found on the Parish Council history site.
Walk back away from the steps and towards Bellingham Garage and turn left. Turn left again and walk up a slight hill which will take you along the rear of the Town Hall and back to the Boer War memorial at Manchester Square.
Instead of going back onto the main road, walk through the alley way straight in front of you towards the main shops. This is Lock-up Lane and a history board next to the Parish Council noticeboard at the far end of the alley will tell you about its history.
Walk along past the front of the shops and at the end, turn right back towards Hareshaw Linn car park. Re-cross the bridge on the right hand side, passing Bridge Cottage, which took the full force of the 1911 Hareshaw Burn flood when an upstream dam failed. The side of the building and much of its contents were washed away.
Carry straight on past the petrol station. On your right you’ll see some historic pictures of Bellingham, including Bridge Cottage after the flood!
Pass the farm on your right, you’ll come to a field with a grassy mound. There is a blue plaque here and it is believed that this is the site of Bellingham Castle, a fortified building reputed to be the home of the de Bellingham family, who were foresters to the Kings of Scotland. There is more information on this on the Bellingham Parish Council history page.
Don’t turn right at the castle - continue on along the main road. A short way further on your right is the old Railway Station. For more information, there is a history information board on the wall on the way in to the station site. The main building is now offices for local businesses, but while you’re here you can visit the Heritage Centre for more information on the local history of the area, as well as the Carriages - which has decommissioned train carriages which have been repurposed into a coffee shop.
Once you’ve finished here, exit the yard and go back onto the main road. To your right the road will take you past the residential houses up to the site of one of the oldest youth hostels in the UK - founded in 1937, though this is now sadly gone.
Instead, head back to your left and retrace your steps back to the stone bridge over Hareshaw Burn. Just before the bridge, turn right back toward Hareshaw Linn car park and complete your history walk around Bellingham.
There are several other walks around the village including -
No visit to Bellingham is complete without a visit to Hareshaw Linn, a spectacular waterfall just a short walk from the centre of the village.
Hareshaw Linn is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), designated for its rare ferns and lichen. More than 300 different types of mosses, liverworts and lichen can be found.
The waterfall is reached via a footpath, which takes the walker through a wooded glade which is home to red squirrels, roe deer, badgers and a dazzling galaxy of birdlife.
The path is occasionally tricky, but the effort is well worthwhile when you cross the sixth bridge on the route to see the Hareshaw Burn tumbling over the 30-foot drop into a rocky cavern.
One of the Bridges over Hareshaw Burn
Hareshaw Linn Waterfall
Grade - Easy | Length - 3 miles/5 km | Time - Allow 2 hours
A - Start from Northumberland National Park car park at Hareshaw Linn in Bellingham. This area was once the site of an iron works in the mid 1800’s. On your right is the stone terrace of ‘Foundry Farm’ that once housed the offices of the foundry managers.As you pass the farmhouse look opposite the sheds for the bubbling water of the ‘well’, a spring that appeared whilst people were drilling for coal. Following the footpath you climb up mounds made from the spoil of 70 ovens that once supplied coke to the ironworks.
B - Walk through the gate, you will see an old dam on your left. Continue along the path to an open area overlooking a small waterfall.The hummocky ground is the spoil from an old quarry, which produced stone used for building the miner’s houses.
C - Climb up the steps. On your right is one of the blocked up mine entrances.Walk through the kissing gate and into the ‘Linn’ proper. This is an ancient woodland with oak, hazel, elm and ash.
D - Carry on up the hill past a curved stone seat.Walk over the first bridge to ‘Cupid’s Bower’ seat overlooking the waterfall. Continue on over the second bridge, on the left are the entrances to two old mine shafts.
E - Carry on over the third and fourth bridges, where you will see tall Douglas firs planted by the Victorians.Walk over the fifth and finally the sixth bridge.This is where the Victorians built a ‘bandstand’ for picnics, music and storytelling.
F - Wander on to the waterfall, but take care.The depth and dampness give the feel of an ancient rainforest - ideal conditions for the 300 species of mosses, liverworts and lichens.
Return the way you came
Bellingham to Kiln Rigg by Pennine Way Circular Walk
Grade - Moderate | Length - 14.3 miles/23.2 km
Start - OS grid reference NY838833 Lat 55.14378152 + Long -2.255691313
Postcode NE48 2AU (approx. location only)
This walk gives some feel for the emptiness of the Cheviots north of Bellingham before coming back in a loop by the North Tyne. The road sections are a necessary evil with only the last section being particularly busy.
The Pennine Way is not signed from the centre of Bellingham. However go out of town on the road to West Woodburn which is Cycle Route 68. At a junction in town keep left when the road signposted for Redesmouth goes off right. Eventually you pass a caravan park and when the road bends to the right the PW is signed off to the left (grid ref. NY845837).
The track goes to and through Blakelaw Farm and then the path climbs up the hill with posts marking the way. At the top go through a gate and continue to follow the posts until you come to a sign that shows an alternative PW route to the left and PW to the right. In the distance you can see the wood around Hareshaw House. Continue along the Pennine Way. As you approach Hazel Burn it can be a bit boggy. There is a bridge over the burn and you come out onto and turn right on the track that leads up to Hareshaw House. Very shortly afterwards you turn left behind the derelict barn and cross the fields in front of Hareshaw. You go through a gate onto moorland then angle right to join the tracks coming from the back of Hareshaw. As you go over the top of the hill you can see where the track comes down to the B6320 (grid ref. NY841883).
When you cross the road you are in a large area of moorland. Follow the direction of the PW signpost from the road, going just to the left of the slate spoil heap. You should pick up the path as it becomes better defined as it goes up Lough Shaw and there are a series of way-markers all visible one after the other to the top of Deer Play. From here there is a signpost sending you off to the left and as you descend there are a couple of way-markers helping you keep a line through another boggy section. When you cross Black Sike you can see the path going on up to Whitley Pike and from here you can see where it crosses the road near Kiln Rigg. As you go down from Whitley Pike keep to the fainter path on the right that goes close to the fence and then meets up with the flag stones that make it possible to cross the quagmire before the road.
Leaving the Pennine Way, turn left on the road (grid ref. NY824917) then shortly afterwards turn left on the track signposted to Sundaysight. There are some great views back down to the North Tyne valley and as the track is gated at Sundaysight there is little traffic on the track. Carry straight on through North Sundaysight and Sundaysight until you come out on the road (grid ref. NY819881). Turn right on the road, signposted for Kielder and Greenhaugh.
The road is reasonably quiet and there are verges on both sides. It is predominantly downhill and the 2 km. to Birchhope passes fairly quickly. Having passed the track on the right to Clough Head, take the track off to the left as the road bends right (grid ref. NY801869). This follows the wood and then goes to the right of Bimmerhill Farm. It is not very clear where the path goes at this point. Go through a gate on your right and cross the field to another gate below you on the right. The path then follows the right hand side of the wall that goes down the ridge towards Charlton. There is some now planting on your right and you eventually merge with the track on your left coming down from Boweshill (grid ref. NY807851).
There is a new camp site coffee shop and bunkhouse at this point. From here there is just over 1km to the path off on the right (grid ref. NY819839) that follows the river back to Bellinngham. This section of road is busier than previous sections and less easy to walk on the verges so it has to be a case of head down and get walking. The path from Cuddies Loup goes generally along the river though it may not be worth trying to find your way through the wood on the bend below Shaw Banks. It is possible to walk through the adjacent meadow until the path sticks closely to the riverbank after Copseford. After a short time you pass under the road bridge then continue along the river path and, as you pass the car garage, turn left back into Bellingham centre.
Circular including Pennine Way from Ladyhill to Bellingham
Grade - Moderate | Length - 16 miles/26 km | Time - 9 hours 20 mins
Start - OS grid reference NY838833 Lat 55.143782 // Long -2.255691
Postcode NE48 2AU (approx. location only)
Follow the B6320 south out of Bellingham, across the North Tyne River and then turn right on the road to Dunterley. At the house (grid ref. NY826831) turn left on the road signposted as Cycle Route 68 and continue on up Dunterley Fell past the road signposted as a footpath to Pundershaw. At the top you swap views of the North Tyne valley behind you for the Blacka and Houxty Burn valleys in front of you.
Come down to the road junction (grid ref. NY810804) and turn left, still on CR 68 signposted to Wark and Hexham. Go past the first bridleway on your right at Hindrigg Farm then take the second track off on the right which isn't way-marked but leads towards Watergate Farm. When the road goes right over the cattle gate to the farm carry straight on up the bridleway with the wall on your right hand side through way-marked gates keeping the fence and wall on your right.
You come down to the footbridge over the Blacka Burn (grid ref. NY801778) and pick up a farm track that leads to the road where the forest is now on your right. Take the road, which is again CR68, straight ahead (not to the left) and continue all the way to the Old School House (grid ref. NY786766). Turn left on the road towards Stonehaugh where you pass a Forestry Commission picnic area with parking and toilet before coming into and then through the village on the main road. As it goes into the wood turn off right on the second public bridleway shown on the map - this one is clearly signposted to Picnic Area and Middleburn. The path bears to the right as it goes over the hill then down to a gate where it meets another bridleway. Turn left here, going around Willowbog House in the distance and come out on the road (grid ref. NY798752).
At this point you are back on the Pennine Way. Take the road left towards Ladyhill then turn off left opposite the Falconry Centre. After crossing the next road there is a diversion (at NY804756 in September 2014) that takes the Pennine Way along the forestry track rather than through the trees until you rejoin at NY807758. Angle off to the right where there is a PW way-marker on the top of the hill. Head off right down a shallow valley towards a sheep enclosure on the left where you cross Fawlee Syke then up the hill with the wall on your right.
Go over the stile at the top then down to another stile before turning right and making your way past the rickety tin barn to the path going through the gate on your left down to the footbridge and over Warks Burn. Up the other side you cross the fields and pass to the right of Horneystead where there is, it says, tea and coffee for walkers in the barn.
The farm road from Horneystead goes off to the left and the PW angles right across the field towards a couple of stiles in the angle of two walls then on towards The Ash house. The path seems to be diverted around the south then east of the Ash then back along the side of the wall and road to Leadgate. When you cross the road at Leadgate carry on across the fields to pass just to the right of a row of trees on the top of the hill where you see a PW way-marker and then descend to Lowstead. The path goes around the garden and out onto the road where you turn right and follow it until you turn left on CR68 again.
Cross the next road and take the path down to Houxty Burn. Towards the end leave the track and go to the left to find the footbridge over the burn then go right to take the footbridge over Soot Burn. Go to the right of Shitlington Hall, take the track to the left then go right through the gate towards the Relay Station.
The path up the crags can be difficult to find in the bracken but should be straight ahead before angling up left through the crag rocks. Turn right after the stile along the track to the aerial and ½ km past it turn left over the moor. There are 3 way-mark posts across the moor to guide you and when you cross the top you aim towards a new house built on the corner above Fell End.
Take the road around the corner then turn off left across the field. At the main road there is a new bit of path that goes back around King's Wood and comes out at the Forestry Commission Office. From here there are footpaths on the left then right of the road. Cross the river on the road bridge then go down the steps on your right and follow the path along the river and back into Bellingham.
Route discriptions from John Harris's Walking in England.