Day trip to Wooler

A second chance this week to run in the countryside presented itself. An opportunity not to be missed. A day trip to Wooler and the Cheviot Hills with the family. When I agreed to lead a walk from Wooler for Annfield Plain and District Naturalists’ Walking Club back in 2019 I had no idea it would be eighteen months later before my first recce. Finding a 10-12 mile circular route wasn’t a problem with the spiders web of paths across the landscape. I decided to play it safe. Chevy Chase route on the way out and St Cuthbert’s Way on the return leg. A bit of trig bagging is never a bad idea. A visit to Gains Law just off St Cuthbert’s Way would tie things up nicely.

The walking club has only met once since 2019, losing most of 2020 to the Coronavirus. It isn’t clear if it will start again by July 2021 when Tracy and I are leading the walks. We chose Wooler for a starting point due to the number and variety of shops and the access to the fells. Tracy, Jacob and Jess explored options for a shorter walk while I looked for a longer route. We had a picnic in the Wooler Common car park before going our separate ways.

Leaving the car park at Wooler Common

Chevy Chase Route

I’ve done the Chevy a few times and it is always a relief to leave the access road and run onto the fells. Today I was starting less than 50 metres away from the trail. The Chevy Chase is a 20 mile round trip taking in Cheviot and Hedgehope. Today I’m not planning on any big tops but hopefully an interesting couple of hours on the fells.

At the top of the first little hill

Within seconds I’m struggling on the first hill and its time to walk and pretend its planned by looking at the map. Initially I’m heading towards Broadstruther before taking a North Westerly path into the unknown which hopefully leads to Commonburn House. At this point I turn and run towards Wooler firstly via a very straight path (road?) and then St Cuthbert’s Way. After a quick drink and at a more sensible pace I set off again across the common and down towards Carey Burn.

Carey Burn

After another mile or so following the river on familiar paths it is time to try something new. I’m relieved to see there is a public footpath post and the route looks well trodden and used by farm vehicles. I turn away from the lumbering beasts of Cheviot and Hedgehope and towards Commonburn House. My day trip to Wooler is just getting interesting.

Time to turn North away from the big hills

Exploring new paths

The path in most parts is easy to follow and I can make good progress as the ground is dry. Crossing a stile I’m distracted by some geese flying overhead and lose the path. After landing not far from me they continue to chat as I jog past. At the end of the last field before the house there is a blue line on the map. I soon find out it is a ford and get my feet wet for the first time on this run. I follow the path round to the right of Commonburn House and exit via a gate. It is only when I’m standing outside I realise it doesn’t have a public right of way marker and I should have been on the left.

Low flying geese

St Cuthbert’s Way

After half a mile on the road I turn right onto a bridal path and follow it onto St Cuthbert’s Way. This national trail was established in 1996 and was an idea of local resident Ron Shaw. The trail is approximately 100km long and reaches from Melrose in the Scottish Borders to Lindisfarne (Holy Island) off the Northumberland Coast. St Cuthbert was an Anglo Saxon saint which had links to the monasteries at both Melrose and Holy Island.

St Cuthbert’s Way

It is believed the trail has increased tourists and other visitors to the settlements it passes through. This stretch passes through upland moor with heather on either side of the path. There are plenty of markers to guide anyone using the trail. They are white with St Cuthbert’s cross in the centre and the name of the trail around the outside.

Trail markers on a stile

Trig Bagging

I know I’m less than 3 miles away from the car park. I can see Gains Law in the distance and the trig at the top. Looking at the map it is only about 9 metres extra climb and 100 metres extra distance so it would be silly not to. From the top there are good views from all sides.

Trig Pillar on Gains Law looking North

Another slight detour from the path follows with a similar climb to Coldberry Hill. From the top of this one I can see the farms I passed on the way out from Wooler to the South. It is funny higgledy piggily pile of rocks which must have been a building sometime in the past.

View to the South from Coldberry Hill

Run into Wooler

Soon Wooler is visible down below and it is soon going to be time to hit the road. I want to finish the run outside the bus station as this will be where the walk will start on the day. It is nice and cool running through the pine forest before hitting the road. A mile later I’m outside the bus station feeling pretty pleased with myself. The town has a varied selection of shops and a few pubs which should be open by July to provide the social part of the walking club for their day trip to Wooler.

The run would have been just over ten miles if it started and finished at the bus station. Job done! I’d like to recce a couple of extra miles if possible but if not I’m happy with the route.

View from the bus station

We hope you enjoyed reading about our “Day trip to Wooler”. Have you been for a run on the Cheviot Hills. Is there a better ten mile route out there? Let us know in the comments below.

Read some of of other blog posts for more hilly adventures on

Running in Newlands Valley after the second Covid-19 lockdown

Supporting Stuart’s Bob Graham Round

Cleeve Cloud Cuckoo Race

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