Our 21st walk of the series. Footloose was one regular member short, so we drafted in a guest to balance the car for our trip into the heart of Northumberland. Edlingham is a tiny hamlet situated between Alnwick and Rothbury, and boasts both a church and a castle. The day began with sunny intervals and cool, light winds, though the forecast was for showers later.
The church is dedicated to St. John the Baptist and stands in quite an extensive churchyard with few standing gravestones, and the first noticeable structure was the sturdy west tower and flat roofed nave and chancel. Inside, it was light and relatively plain, but with a beautiful rose window in the east end above the communion table. The rare tunnel-vaulted Norman porch with the sword and shears symbols on the threshold added to the interest before we exited to begin our walk.
A nettle infested track adjacent to the churchyard led to open fields, as we headed north east to cross the old Alnwick to Cornhill railway line. Over grass fields at first, we then crossed Corby’s Letch in a small wooded valley before climbing steeply amidst Limousin cows and calves to Overthwarts farm. A good example of diversification here; the holiday cottages enjoyed superb views south over the wonderful Northumbrian countryside. We followed the farm lane away from the dwellings, stopped for a chat with the local postman in his van, and then took a minor road north towards Lemmington Hall.
We tarried a while for a coffee, sitting on a wall in the sunshine, with a castellated folly behind us. The short walk up the lane brought us to the old Sawmill Cottage, beautifully converted into a lovely house with a really colourful garden. A chat with the owner who was busy tending his plants elicited some interesting history about the estate, but time was passing, so we left him to his tasks and headed west, past the Hall, towards the Mill. Here we crossed Edlingham Burn, and then followed the farm tracks across several fields, making our way to Hill Head.
We sat and had our lunch adjacent to the tunnel entrance for the old railway line, before we reached the farm, and then turned north for a little distance before heading off west again, down a grassy field, to pick up the course of the old Roman Road, known locally as the Devil’s Causeway. There were some lovely views north east, looking over towards Cheviot, and the sounds of the heavy guns firing at the Otterburn Ranges kept us company as we walked on to Birsley Woodside.
From here, we crossed over the minor road, and made our way through more sheepy fields to Birsley Wood, skirting its western edge. From here we could see the remains of Edlingham Castle to our left, and the path quickly brought us back to the hamlet and the end of our walk. We had time to visit the Castle, just a little way outside the settlement, and admired the stonework of the masons from the 12th century and later, when the original manor house was fortified. It was eventually abandoned in 1650 due to damage from construction faults.
Our walks are never complete without a coffee shop, but there being none locally, we stopped en route in Longframington, before making our way home.