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Mon 12th September 2016

Four Hill Forts of the Valley

Four Hill Forts of the Valley

After meeting in Rothbury we set off heading North of Rothbury to the first hillfort, Old Rothbury Hillfort.

Old Rothbury Hillfort is situated west of Rothbury on the northside of the valley and sits close to West Hills camp.

It has a double ring fortification though in places only a single ring is visible and there are traces of hut circles inside the enclosure.

It always seems a bit odd to find a hillfort half-way up a hill. You'd think it would have been too easy for attackers to lob missiles down from above.

But, the inhabitants of Rothbury must have had their reasons I suppose. The fort is on a nicely situated plateau, and there are traces of hut circles. They went to a bit of effort to build the double ditch and rampart system, though in some places there's just a single bank and ditch, as the natural slope is pretty steep.

After visiting this the first hillforts we headed off down Physic Lane and then made a quick detour off the lane to the second hillfort, West Hills Camp.

The site of West Hills Camp covers about 3 acres. This Iron Age hillfort is located on a spur overlooking a valley located to the south. The earthworks are well-preserved in their eastern and northern part where three lines of ramparts can be distinguished. There is a wide berm between two innermost ramparts.

It has never been excavated, although earlier field reports mention remains of hut circles, nowadays difficult to distinguish. East of the hillfort there are bedrock outcrops with Neolithic/Bronze Age rock art.

We then continued down Physic Lane to Thropton, after passing through the village before crossing the River Coquet. After passing across the valley bottom we continued up past Tosson Lime Kilm to Tosson Burgh Hillfort.

Tosson Burgh Hillfort occupies a very dramatic location, it is visible from miles away (even from Rothbury). It occupies a carefully chosen naturally defended site overlooking the Coquet valley to the north, west and east. Though there are no traces of habitation within the ramparts, the fort is unexcavated, and such features may survive below ground level.

The strong situation of Tosson Burgh hillfort suggests that it was intended for use as a fortification, though a public display of power and status may have been equally important.

Though evidence of habitation may yet be found inside the rampart, the fort is not large in area, in common with many other hillforts in Northumberland, and is unlikely to have supported any sizeable population. Smaller hillforts may have served as defended farmsteads established by autonomous small groups, rather than proto-urban centres.

After vising this hill fort we continued to climb up to and over the Simonside Hills before dropping down to Lordenshaws Iron Age Hillfort.

Lordenshaw Hillfort comprises 3 ramparts separated by ditches and a counterscarp bank with a 2 metres high inner bank. Within the hillfort there are the remains of Iron Age hut circles. There are two entrances to the site, one to the east and one to the west. There are many rock art sites close by the hillfort.

It is a truly striking Iron Age hillfort.

From here we then dropped back down to Rothbury, a great walk with great company.

Tue 6th September 2016

Kielder Challenge Walk 2016

Kielder Challenge Walk 2016

On Saturday just under 100 walkers undertook the stunning Kielder Challenge Walk.

After registering the walkers set off along the North Shore to Checkpoint 1 before skirting around the top of the reservoir before heading down to Checkpoint 2.

A few showers kept everybody refreshed as they headed onto Checkpoint 3 and 4.

A good day was had by all.

Tue 30th August 2016

Hadrian's Wall - Steel Rigg to Housesteads

Hadrian's Wall - Steel Rigg to Housesteads

Our party of seven keen walkers – five men and two springer spaniels (Jumble and Smudge) – met on time at 10.00am at Steelrigg car park and in glorious sunshine and with no wind set off following the Hadrians Wall path to the roman fort of Housesteads. An early climb quickly had our hearts pumping but the breathtaking views in every direction made the exertion worthwhile.

The iconic spot that is Sycamore Gap was reached and photos taken. The trail closely followed “the wall” to Housesteads -  towering over Crag Lough lake and undulating in line with the contours of the whin sill. Lunch was enjoyed at the point where the return journey began in the lea of the wall and with a fine view of Kielder forest in the distance.

The mainly level path back to the car park afforded wonderful views of the wall and gave Mark the opportunity to lead us through a reed bog – for the benefit of Jumble and Smudge he explained!  

A thoroughly enjoyable walk in excellent company was capped with a well deserved drink in the Twice Brewed inn.