An easy to follow trail in the Simonside Forest, aimed at families, with plenty to look out for and do along the route.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
(D/A) Follow the main forest track out of the car park, passing the sheltered information board and the wooden barrier, as it winds uphill through the trees.
(1) At the junction, turn right, passing the tall mast on your right. This is a repeater mast which boosts the local television signal.
(2) Follow this track deeper into the forest and bear right at the next junction. Continue on the track as it meanders downhill towards the edge of the forest. As you reach the edge of the trees, there are expansive views over the Coquet Valley towards the Cheviot Hills, including Cheviot itself, the highest hill in Northumberland and the National Park.
(3) Take the footpath leading back into the trees to the left. Follow this uphill, climbing up through the trees. Shortly after the path stops climbing you join a forest track. Turn left onto this.
(4) Follow the track until you reach two large stones across the path. Turn right onto the path signposted for Little Church Rock and follow this to the rock outcrop. There are good views from the top of the rock but be careful!
(5) Return by the same route and turn right. Follow the track, past the point where you left it before, and retrace your steps back to the mast.
(6) At the mast, you have a choice. For a shorter alternative, continue back down the track towards the car park. Take the path leading off to the right and follow this back to the car park, turning left before the footbridge.
Otherwise, turn right and follow the track until you reach a point where a footpath leaves it on the left hand side. Follow this path as it descends through the trees and back to the car park. Be careful as this path is rough in places with exposed rocks and tree roots which can be slippery! (D/A)
D/A : km 0 - alt. km 0 - Forestry Commission Simonside car park
1 : km 0.85 - alt. km 0.85 - Mast
2 : km 1.36 - alt. km 1.36 - Junction
3 : km 1.85 - alt. km 1.85 - Footpath on the left
4 : km 2.57 - alt. km 2.57 - Stones
5 : km 2.99 - alt. km 2.99 - View
6 : km 4.01 - alt. km 4.01 - Mast
D/A : km 5.26 - alt. km 5.26 - Forestry Commission Simonside car park
Getting there: To reach the car park at the start of this walk, take the B6342 South out of Rothbury. After about 2 miles, turn right on the sharp bend near the National Park boundary sign, onto a single track road. Follow this road, passing the Lordenshaws car park on your right. Continue between the trees, passing a layby on your left, and turn left into the main Forestry Commission car park.
Car Parking: Forestry Commission Simonside car park
Local Services: Rothbury
NNP Information Point: Rothbury National Park Centre
Terrain: Forest tracks and woodland paths – some sections may be wet and rough in
places so this route is not suitable for pushchairs.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
Local facilities: Shops and services are available in Rothbury, including pubs & cafes, tourist information and accommodation. The National Park’s award-winning Visitor Centre and Tourist Information Centre is located on the village green in Rothbury and houses a fascinating interactive display about the wildlife, history and culture of this landscape. Our information officers have a wealth of knowledge about the area, services available and events, and can also help to book accommodation.
Points of Interest
Simonside Forest: This trail follows a route within the forestry of Simonside, which is part of the larger Harwood forest area. The site is owned and managed by the Forestry Commission for both recreation and commercial forestry interests. There are a variety of tree species in the forest, mostly coniferous which means they have needles, bear cones and do not lose their leaves in winter. However, there are some deciduous trees too, which do lose their leaves in winter, such as Silver Birch.
Bronze Age Burial Cairn: The Simonside hills are alive with remains from the past! Archaeological remains litter the hillside and many are hidden throughout the forest. At the second junction you come to on your outward walk, and the point where you begin to retrace your steps on your return, a heather covered clearing in the trees boasts a burial cairn in its centre. This cairn was excavated in the 1890s and the stones from the central area were banked around the edge, revealing two cists, or chambers, beneath. These cists often contain evidence of cremations, and often pots, tools and other implements, and date back to the Bronze Age, about 6,000 years ago.
Little Church Rock: This isolated outcrop of fell sandstone is hidden within the forest. Its name may be a reference to the rock’s use as a gathering place. There is a set of cup marks in the stone on the lower right side of the rock which is thought to be man-made and could be over 4,000 years old.
Enjoy a circular walk up to the summit of Simonside, involving some short, steep gradients. A walk along the Simonside Hills must not be missed. From the top, you have a wonderful 360-degree view encompassing the Cheviot Hills and the North Sea coastline. The area teems with wildlife such as the curlew, red grouse, wild goats, and even red squirrels in the forest below.
Enjoy a lovely walk over Lordenshaws hillfort, with great views (on a clear day) over to the Cheviots. Visit out Lordenshaws page for more information about the area.
A circular walk with a lot of interest. From the prehistoric rock art, bronze age burial cairns and iron age hill fort at Lordenshaw, to the lovely scenic walk over the Simonside hills, to the iron age hill fort overlooking Great Tosson through to the tranquil return through the Simonside forest.
A pleasant stroll alongside the River Coquet and into Rothbury village. Suitable for a variety of users. Due to width/surface restrictions on some parts, the route is not suitable for pushchairs/wheelchairs, although the riverside can be accessed by these users from the village centre. Be aware: parts of the route may flood when the river level is high.
Enjoy a circular walk suitable for most abilities, with fantastic views over Elsdon on the return leg. Enjoy a cuppa or a pint after building up a thirst and seeing the sights of this scenic Northumberland village. For the adventurous amongst you, why not pair this walk with our Elsdon Burn Walk.
A nice family walk following the Elsdon Burn, before heading over Gallow Hill. Take time to enjoy the views over Elsdon – the historic capital of Redesdale. Enjoy a cuppa or a pint after building up a thirst from seeing the sights of this pretty little place.
The Shepherds Cairn is a memorial to two shepherds who lost their lives in the winter of 1962. They were found just half a mile from their remote home at Ewartly Shank. Because of this event the National Park Voluntary Rangers set up the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team - a volunteer organisation that turns out in all weather to help save lives.
Take an invigorating walk to Cochrane Pike to see some spectacular views. This walk takes you through moorland sheep country surrounded by the sounds of the curlew, oyster catcher, skylark and meadow pipit. You may see buzzard or kestrel, or the recently-arrived red kite in the skies, and the heron in the river valley.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.