Since we moved back to the UK from Spain a year ago now, we have mostly been Hiking in the area of the Derwent Walk. We have done some enjoyable walking but I have always had it in my head to go a little further afield and go hiking in the North Pennines. I was fully aware that the North Pennines are only a short drive away from where we currently live in Whickham, so today, after a little internet research, we packed up out hiking gear and headed for Blanchland.
Where are the North Pennines?
The North Pennines is an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) and it is also named as a Global Geopark by UNESCO.
The North Pennines is situated several miles to the West of Newcastle Upon Tyne, beginning just outside of Consett and covers an area Westwards all the way across to the Eden Valley. It also goes Southwards as far as the Yorkshire Dales.
How Large is the North Pennines?
At almost 770 square miles (2,000 km2), it is the second largest of the 49 AONBs in the United Kingdom. The landscape of the North Pennines AONB is one of open heather moors between deep dales, upland rivers, hay meadows and stone-built villages, some of which contain the legacies of a mining and industrial past. The area has previously been mined and quarried for minerals such as barytes, coal fluorspar, iron, lead, witherite and zinc.
Why Go Hiking in the North Pennines?
The North Pennines has an amazing array of diverse Hiking Routes. Many designated routes such as the challenging Pennines Way National Trail or Isaac’s Tea Trail can be easily found online, as well as hundreds of short scenic hikes to satisfy any hiking taste, but if you, like me enjoy discovering your own, there are hundreds of miles of free to roam open Moorland, Meadows, Fells Valleys and Hills.
Where is Blanchland?
Blanchland is a small village situated by the river in the Derwent Valley in Northumberland right on the border of County Durham.
It is situated in the North Pennines approximately 15km South of Hexham and 10km West of Consett with easy access by road, see map.
Description of Blanchland
The Village of Blanchland is absolutely stunning. It is a small village with a population of only 135 residents. It is situated by a bridge over the River Derwent on the edge of Woods and the whole village was built from the stone of the original 12 century Blanchland Abbey.
It is incredibly picturesque and has been used in countless period TV Dramas and Films.
Suggested Walks in Blanchland
A quick search of my Wikiloc Account set over Blanchland unearthed numerous routes pretty much all starting from the Free Blanchland Carpark, so that’s where we headed. The walks included:
- Blanchland to Devil’s Water Loop – 18km
- Blanchland Moors to Slaley Forest – 14km
- Blanchland Moor Top – 10km
We decided to make our own, so we set off up towards Blanchland Moor and took it from there.
We first passed some old mineworks from the areas historic mining past, so stopped off for a look:
We then climbed the steep hills until we hiked along the top of the peak of Blanchland Moor. It was a beautiful sunny day but it was only around 1 degree and the wind was quite cutting.
We followed the Moor along the top of the valley for a couple of Kilometres then dropped down through some off road tracks and a Bridleway back towards the village.
This was just a short discovery Hike as we had been hiking the day before and were a bit stiff.
Bars and Restaurants in Blanchland
Once we got back down into Blanchland we decided we would have a look around the place to see if we could find somewhere for a coffee.
It was during our stroll that we discovered the Lord Crewe Arms Hotel, simply wow!
This place was amazing both to look at from the outside and even more so inside. It was a Hotel, Bar, Restaurant and Coffee Shop that looked like a Medieval Castle all rolled into one. The image below was taken approaching the Hotel coming down the hill from the free carpark.
The next image is of the amazing vast open Fireplace with crackling log fire, which was most welcome after our short, cold, windy hike:
We stayed for a pint of Inch’s Cider each and to warm up in front of the fire before setting off towards the Derwent Reservoir and through the stunning town of Shotley Bridge for a bit more discovering on the way home.
There were also a couple of other small shops in the village square, but unfortunately we didn’t explore them further this time around. There was a Post Office and General Store with seating outside where you could buy Ice Creams and Coffee:
And there was a former Church Building converted into a Coffee Shop too:
Things To Do in Blanchland
The whole area of the North Pennines is suited to all forms of Outdoor Pursuits. The area of Blanchland in particular was well suited to Hiking, Mountain Biking and Horse Riding. There were clearly marked Hiking Trails and Bridleways all over the area.
Blanchland also has close access to the Derwent Reservoir, a vast reservoir where water sports such as Kayaking, Paddle boarding, Windsurfing and Sailing are available.
We also saw signs mentioning Local Conservation Projects which were ongoing and looking for volunteers, something that would suit the Service section of the DofE Award nicely if that is something that you are taking part in.
Our Thoughts on Blanchland and Hiking in the North Pennines
Well, what can I say? This was our first trip of many the the North Pennines, and our first ever visit to Blanchland. It was enough to get us hooked and it is so accessible to us that we’d be mad not to go there more often.
The locals were welcoming and fellow hikers exchanged pleasantries as we passed them. There were views to die for and the fresh air and open spaces were wonderful to take in.
The Hikes themselves cover Sunday afternoon strolls to full on extreme Challenges and the terrain is certainly diverse enough to get the your heart rate up if that’s what you are looking for.
Watch this space for more reports on our days out Hiking in the North Pennines.