Rothbury and The Coquet Valley
Rothbury is situated in the heart of The Coquet Valley, in the heart of the Northumbrian countryside and is incredibly picturesque and tranquil. It’s just the perfect destination for sightseeing, walking, cycling, fishing and birdwatching. The historic market town of Rothbury provides an interesting range of restaurants, pubs and interesting independent shops. Cragside House and Estate and Hadrian’s Wall are both close by and absolutely unmissable.
Known as the capital of Coquetdale and situated in the centre of Northumberland county, the picturesque small market town of Rothbury is a peaceful haven and an ideal base from which to explore the spectacular Northumberland countryside and coast, its castles, stately homes, areas of natural beauty, historic landmarks and fascinating history. With the beautiful River Coquet meandering through the town of Rothbury, having journeyed its way from the solitude of Upper Coquetdale, you’ll find Rothbury a relaxing and peaceful destination offering a warm Northumbrian welcome.
Although classed as a market town, everyone still tends to refer to Rothbury as a village as it is more akin to a large village with its sandstone buildings, traditional tearooms, little independent shops featuring local art and fine food, including an award-winning family-run butchers shop and local delicatessen in the high street. There are lovely walks throughout the village and alongside the River Coquet. Why not check out Wood Cottage in Thropton, just 2 miles from Rothbury, where you can still walk to the town from the cottage.
The road network to and from Rothbury is excellent, easily accessed from the A1 trunk road and Newcastle International Airport can be reached within 40 minutes. There are mainline rail stations at Alnmouth and Morpeth, both of which can be reached within 35 minutes.
Set amongst beautiful gardens and extensive woodlands, this landmark house was once the country home and estate of the industrialist and Victorian inventor, Lord Armstrong. In fact it was Lord Armstrong (1810 – 1900 ) who helped shape modern Rothbury. Many local buildings reflect his Victorian style and prosperity and he was incredibly forward-thinking in terms of establishing farms using the latest farming techniques to increase efficiencies.
At the same time, the planting of more than six million trees and shrubs transformed the surrounding landscape. His magnificent home at Cragside, now in the care of the National Trust, is visited by more than 150,000 people annually, and interestingly, was the first home in the world to be lit by hydro-electricity, of which Lord Armstrong was the pioneer. Lord Armstrong even hosted visits by the leaders of other countries, including Japan, keen to see and hopefully emulate, such an innovate residence.
Today, Cragside is still a fine example of that period where visitors can view not only the rooms but also an ingenious collection of gadgets from the 1800’s era and experience the wonderful 1,000 acre Cragside estate, currently home to the increasingly rare red squirrel. Or why not visit the beautifully restored 12th century Augustinian Brinkburn Priory situated just a few miles south east of Rothbury.
If you are an artist, photographer or nature lover, you will find Rothbury and the surrounding countryside and coast to be a haven of opportunities. From all sides of Rothbury itself, there are magnificent views to be had of Blaeberry Hill, Cragside, Simonside and in the distance the wonderful Cheviot Hills some 10 miles west of Rothbury. Further afield the stunning scenery of Northumberland is sure to inspire you.
If you are a walker, a cyclist, an archaeologist, a historian or just simply enjoy being outdoors, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to explore the surrounding Simonside and Cheviot Hills, a wild romantic landscape of rounded hills and valleys; all part of the 400 square miles of Northumberland National Park which contains 196 scheduled ancient monuments featuring many cup and ringed marked rocks, burials and cairns from the prehistoric times. Lordenshaws Hillfort (GR NZ 055993) to the south of Rothbury being just one example.
Also within Northumberland National Park and officially classed as a World Heritage Site, is the best known archeological site, Hadrian’s Wall and its Roman forts and settlements. Additionally, starting from Rothbury, there is the opportunity to enjoy guided walks researched and produced by local Northumbrian shepherd, Jon Monks, explaining points of local interest. For those more able, you can stretch your legs further still whilst taking in the dramatic scenery of the National Park on one of Jon’s more demanding walks in the surrounding hills.
For those of you who enjoy the sea and sand, then the spectacular Northumberland coastline and its beautiful beaches – designated an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ – are just twenty miles east of Rothbury. In fact, our visitors often remark how unspoilt our beaches are upon seeing the miles of soft golden sand and extensive range of dunes along the Northumberland coastline.
If you are fisherman or golfer, there are several good locations and courses to be found locally, including trout fishing at the 50 acre Caistron Lake, 5 miles west of Rothbury and an 18 hole golf course at Rothbury Golf Club which welcomes visitors and junior visitors alike.
With so much to see and do in Northumberland, you will find that Rothbury is the ideal base to explore Northumberland and its many treasures, including Holy Island (Lindisfarne), Bamburgh Castle, Alnwick Castle, Alnwick Garden and many more! Therefore, to help make your stay truly memorable, we have provided some further information below for you to peruse.
Things To Do
In the following section, we have focused on ‘Things to Do’ in Rothbury and Coquetdale, however, there are so many places to visit in Northumberland that we recommend you plan your holiday to maximise the time you have available. A good place to start is the Visit Northumberland tourist website, which covers a vast amount of information on places to visit, opening times, special events, sporting facilities, etc. There are lots of tourist information brochures in each of our properties, so you can browse at your leisure on arrival to plan your days out. Here is just a small selection! Please click to read more about each activity.
The National Park Visitor Centre in Rothbury has a wealth of information for dozens of breathtaking walks in the vicinity, including details on access to the Cheviot Hills and rock climbs on the Rothbury Moors. It also boasts a state of the art visitor centre with interactive displays. Further information can be obtained online or via tel: 01434 605555.
Or why not experience the ‘Rothbury and Coquetdale Walking Festival’ held every two year for two weeks and led by local shepherds and National Park guides. Please contact the organisers for further details on tel: 01830 540453.
Shepherd Walks are guided walks starting from a variety of locations, including Rothbury and nearby villages. Each and every one of these written walking guides has been written and researched by Jon Monks, a local Northumbrian hill shepherd. A variety of walks are offered, from short 2-mile town walks explaining points of local interest, to gentle but longer distance walks in the surrounding hills, to more demanding walks for the experienced walker. If you have a small group, then Shepherd Walks can also offer guided walking parties for small groups and individuals. These walks include a detailed commentary from your personal guide, as well as plenty of opportunity for questions and answers. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 01830 1398967.
The Cheviots Challenge takes place every summer and is the main fundraising event for the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team. It is exactly what the title says – ‘Challenging’. However, the Challenge is a personal challenge rather than a competition and it is designed to take in dramatic views, waterfalls and historic sites! You can choose between a short or long route, so why not enter and raise funds for a very worthy cause, safe in the knowledge that at the end of the walk your luxurious holiday cottage awaits! For further details visit the Cheviots Challenge website or Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team webpages.
The crags of Northumberland offer fine outcrop climbing in one of England’s most beautiful and remote counties. An interesting climb, ‘Lower Tosson’ in Simonsides, just 7 miles east of Rothbury, is home to Northumberland’s biggest roof with an unclimbed roof crack all the way through it.
A free printable guide, produced by Northumberland Mountaineering Club, can be downloaded on the following link Lower Tosson. The crag is best approached from Hepple Whitefield just off the B6431 from Rothbury.
Information about further rock climbs on the Rothbury Moors can also be found by visiting or calling The National Park Visitor Centre in Rothbury. Tel: 01434 605555.
Fontburn Reservoir is a very popular fishing location and was built in 1905 at an altitude of 180 metres. Fontburn hosts a successful trout fishery stocked with Rainbow and Blue Trout and is located approximately 7 miles south of Rothbury just off the B6342. Further details about this location and others can be found on the Good Fishing Guide website. If using satellite navigation, key in postcode NE61 4PL to pin point its location. Alternatively, contact: Fontburn Reservoir Lodge on tel: 01669 621368.
Northumberland water Visitor Fishing Permits can be obtained from the Head Bailiff (W Farndale), 15 Woodlands, Rothbury, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE65 7XZ. Tel: 01669 620984. No application forms are necessary. To apply for a permit, send a cheque for the correct fee, payable to NAF and enclose a SAE at least 9” x 6” (C5) with a first class stamp to the Head Bailiff. Please note that Visitors Permit Fees may be subject to change, but at the time of writing a ‘1 Day, All Fish, All Waters (excluding Coquet Tidal) Permit’ cost £30, and a ‘7Day, All Fish, All Waters’ (excluding Coquet Tidal) Permit’ cost £75.
If you would like the opportunity to utilise local knowledge, then Kevin Dawson, a qualified instructor in Game Angling (certificate no: L2CCA05-790-492) is an experienced fly fisherman who has spent many years refining his skills on the River Coquet and can offer tuition for any level of angler. Further details can be found on Kevin’s website or contacting him directly on tel: 01669 621417
A good source for further local fishing information can be found at Northumbrian Anglers’ Federation.
Rothbury Golf Course is a picturesque 18 hole course that is both part-sloping and level with a clubhouse, located at Whitton Bank Road, Rothbury, NE65 7RX and within easy walking distance of Rothbury. Adjoining the Northumberland National Park, the course offers spectacular views of the Coquet Valley, the Cheviot Hills and the Cragside estate. Visitors, including juniors, are most welcome and various packages are offered. For further information contact the club directly on tel: 01669 621271 or visit their website.
Alnwick Castle Golf Course is a mature parkland course close to the town of Alnwick located approximately 12 miles northeast of Rothbury at Swansfield Park, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE65 1AB. Its signature 12th hole, known as the ‘ Lang Whang’ is an uphill dogleg (left) par 5 culminating in a raised green. The whole course is a par 70. For further details contact tel: 01665 602632 or their website.
Where to Dine Out in Rothbury
For such a small and peaceful market town, you’ll find a great choice of places to eat in Rothbury. See some suggestions below, and remember to book your restaurants in advance to avoid disappointment!
Established for over 100 years, Tully’s of Rothbury is a traditional village store, delicatessen and coffee room. If you’re looking for a pitstop, you can enjoy a variety of teas, coffee and homemade cake. Or why not treat yourself to one of their lunch time platters? With a range of meats, cheese, olives and crackers, you won’t be disappointed. Tel: 01669 620574 or click here to visit the website.
History of Rothbury
Coquetdale is steeped in folklore and history. Cup and ring marks at Lordenshaws are pointers to a long-forgotten past, the Saxon warrior Hrotha is also better known in legend than by the scattered stones which mark the first Rothbury and the great battle of Brunnaburg – fought between Athelstan and Analf – is said to have taken place at nearby Brinkburn in AD 935. Good evidence for this is as capricious as sightings of Simonside’s cave-dwelling Deugar – a fearsome yeti-like creature who lures walkers to their doom before roasting their corpses over a peat fire.
Other early influences on Coquetdale and Rothbury were of a religious nature. Between 1130 and 1135 AD, the Norman baron, William Bertram, gave the Augustinian canons a plot of around 3500 acres, whereupon they built a monastic house and the present day buildings of Brinkburn Priory. The beautifully restored 12th Century Augustinian Brinkburn Priory church situated on the River Coquet and just a few miles from Rothbury is currently owned and managed by English Heritage.
During the 14th century, there was much conflict between England and Scotland resulting in raids and destruction that inevitably affected Brinkburn Priory and the surrounding areas, one such raid being instigated by the Scottish King, Robert the Bruce. However, it wasn’t until 1536 that Brinkburn Priory closed under Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.
Nowadays you will find the church beautifully restored and it is here in the vicinity of the church and within the grounds of Brinkburn Priory that you will also find Priory Cottage, the Grade II listed coach house, now a delightful 1 bedroom guest cottage. Alongside the Priory Cottage, lies The Stables, a fabulous conversion of the ancient stable building that once served the residents of Brinkburn Priory.
If we look to the hills we can still see that hill farming is very much evident and has been the mainstay of the local economy for many generations. Famous names, such as Armstrong, Charleton and Robson, remain well-represented in the farming community. Their forebears, members of the reiver ‘clans’, were in constant conflict with their Scots counterpart. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Coquet Valley was a pillaging ground for bands of Border Reivers who attacked and burned Rothbury. The constant warring between families living north and south of the English – Scottish border changed the lives of many families. Crops were destroyed, homesteads burnt and people were murdered or dispersed. As a consequence of this, it seemed that families took to ‘reiving’, that is raiding for cattle and sheep and whatever else that could be transported in order to survive. For the many families that were affected, it became an established way of life for many generations. However, reiving wasn’t just limited to the poorest people, many a nobleman condoned and even participated in the activities! The many fortified farms (or bastles) are reminders of troubled times which lasted until the unification of the kingdoms.
With regard to more recent times, older inhabitants look back with fond memories to the days when Rothbury had a railway line, a cinema in the Jubilee Hall and full employment. These are now mostly gone, but Rothbury remains a progressive and bustling residential and commercial centre with excellent schools, a hospital, library, football team, a recreation club catering for tennis, bowls and five-a-side football, excellent shops and an abundance of good places to eat.
Today, Rothbury is still a reminder of what most of rural England was like forty years ago and the town still boasts traditional independent shops, a selection of country pubs where locals gather to exchange news and gossip, and offers the visitor and resident alike, a gentler pace of life. For all its peacefulness and beauty, Rothbury is very much occupied by a very forward-looking and active community who ensure that the town remains in a strong position to go forward into the future.
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