College Valley – Northumberland’s Hidden Gem

The Cheviot hills are the highest mountains in the north east of England and are formed around the remains of an ancient volcano. The most northerly of these is the College Valley and you won’t find any signs or directions for it. This is a truly hidden valley.There is only one way in and despite being one of the most beautiful places in Northumberland there are no tourist signposts.The Valley has been owned by College Valley Estates since 1953 and it is managed and looked after in a way which ensures that you can walk through the valley and imagine what it was like 4,000 years ago.History in the valley.There is a neolithic stone circle along the valley floor as well as iron age hill forts along some of the summits.
There are the remains of settlements dating back to Roman times visible along the hill sides.During the 18th and 19th centuries the Valley was owned by Lord Collingwood who was at Trafalgar with Nelson. He planted acorns along one of the valley hills and you can see the oak trees which have grown since his time.

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Shortly after the first world war the Valley was acquired by Sir Arthur Sutherland who also owned Dunstanburgh Castle on the coast.During the WW2 there were quite a few plane crashes over the Cheviot hills, both allied and axis planes being involved. There is a monument to the people who lost their lives here and on a ridge near the Cheviot you can still find some remains from a flying fortress.Walking in the Valley.With over 12,000 acres and 100 kms of roads, paths and forest trails there are plenty of ways to explore the Valley. The Pennine way follows the border ridge with Scotland along the north west side of the Valley. Saint Cuthbert’s way also runs through the Valley as it travels from Melrose to Lindisfarne.Environment in the Valley.Farming is predominantly sheep based with the occasional introduction of cattle. There is virtually no use of fertilisers within the Valley and the streams and hill sides are clean and pollution free. With wind direction either from the coast ( north sea) or blowing in from the Scottish borders there is also minimal air pollution.Access to the Valley.There is only one road in and no other way out. The road up the central valley is privately owned and vehicular access is restricted to twelve per day on the payment of a small fee. Whilst cars are restricted walkers, bikers and horse riders are encouraged.Holidays in the Valley.Bringing your dog(s).There are four separate self catering holiday cottages. Dunsdale house is the highest of these and is followed by Coldburn cottage, The Old School and Hethpool Mill. All cottages have been renovated to high standards and offer a good standard of accommodation. Dogs are permitted in each cottage and the owners do not place a limit on the size or number of pets you bring. There are kennels outside each cottage and Coldburn has an enclosed garden.

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Outside the ValleyThe College Valley is approximately 20 miles from the golden sands of the Northumberland Coast. Nearer by there are National Trust properties such as Cragside. The castle and gardens at Alnwick are also very popular.The coast is an area of outstanding natural beauty and small ports like Alnmouth and Amble offer great opportunities to stroll along the beach and then relax in a warm pub.Further reading.Google knol article on the Valley.