Walking in the Haltwhistle Area
Northumberland is a land of contrast shaped not only by nature, but by its history. Its past has included times of lawlessness and violence but also periods of refinement and religion. This region ranges from picturesque river valleys to wild, windswept moors; from woodland to open pasture. Haltwhistle is considered to be the gateway to Northumberland National Park (Northumberland National Park) and Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site (National Trust) (English Heritage) . The Haltwhistle Rings (Haltwhistle Rings) were originally written so that others could experience the pleasure of walking in this unique area. We want you to fully enjoy your walks so here are a few tips to help you on your way.
Equipment Footwear: For most of the year, the ground in this area can be wet and/or clarty (muddy). A good pair of boots will keep your feet dry, provide grip and protect your ankles.
Gaiters: Gaiters will also help to keep your lower legs dry and are well worth consideration.
Walking poles:These can reduce pressure on leg joints, help with balance and are useful for testing ground before stepping onto it. Be mindful when carrying them if other walkers are present. They can quickly become an offensive weapon!
Day sack: The contents of this will vary depending on the length of your walk, the weather, where you are proposing to walk, etc. Some of the things you may consider carrying are:
- First Aid kit (all walks)
- Map and compass (mobile phone reception is patchy in this area. NB: using GPS and OS mapping on a mobile phone gobbles up power and can leave you stranded when you need it most. It’s also worth mentioning that mobile phones can stop working when they get cold!)
- Spare batteries for gps devices.
- Windproof/waterproof jacket (weather can be changeable; cooler at height)
- Spare warm layers (all walks)
- Food, water and hot drink (all walks)
- Emergency rations (eg Glucose tablets, chocolate bars, sweets)
- Survival bag/survival shelter (if walking over exposed areas)
- Whistle and torch (see section on dealing with an emergency)
- Hat and gloves/sunhat and sunscreen
- Insect repellent (Northumberland midges have teeth!)
The Countryside Code (the Countryside Code)
Follow the Countryside code - respect other people, protect the natural environment and enjoy the outdoors. This Code underpins the values, practice and advice of HWF.
- Park considerately at the beginning of your walk (don’t block gates, access, etc).
- Leave farm gates as you find them (the farmer may have left a gate open to allow animals access to food/water, for example).
- Follow designated paths, except to avoid farm animals or other obstruction.
- Even if you believe an animal is in distress or difficulty, do not try to deal with the matter yourself. Alert the farmer instead.
- Climbing over walls, hedges, etc can damage them and allow animals to escape.
- Leave all rocks, plants and trees as you find them.
- Take all your litter home.
- Be careful with naked flames and cigarettes to avoid setting fire to vegetation. Report all unattended fires to the 999 service.
- Keep all dogs under tight control and be aware of any legal requirements.
- Clean up after your dog and dispose of the bag responsibly. Dog poo is harmful to sheep and cattle. Stay Safe Enjoying your day begins with preparation.
- Check the weather forecast before setting out to make sure you have appropriate clothing, etc.
- Leave details of your intended route in case of an emergency.
- Make sure you allow enough time for your walk, especially during the winter months. Allow 1 hour for each 2.5 miles/4 km and 1 hour for every 1500 feet/500 m of ascent. Remember to add time for rest periods and food stops.
- Fully charge phones and devices before setting out.
- Consider loading the ‘what3words’ App to your phone if you do not have access to GPS technology. NOTE OUR PREVIOUS COMMENTS ON THE USE OF MOBILE PHONES.
- If walking with others, leave one phone switched off in case of an emergency. Dealing with an Emergency
- Deal with any First Aid issues. Keep the casualty warm and safe. Use the survival shelter if you are carrying one in your kit.
- Call 999 and ask for the Police. They will organise Mountain Rescue and arrange for an ambulance if necessary.
- Tell them where you are as accurately as you can (eg using Grid references or ‘what3words’) The Police operator will guide you through the next steps. Emergency Distress Signal The recognised international emergency distress signal is six long blasts on the whistle (or six long flashes of the torch) with a one-minute delay between each set. The response is three blasts (or flashes).
Walking Near Cattle Cows are naturally inquisitive, so it is normal for them to watch your movements or approach you. This can be intimidating but there are some things you can do:
- Walk slowly and calmly, making no sudden movements. Go around them if possible.
- Cattle become very protective so don’t walk between a cow and her calf.
- Don’t be tempted to turn your back and run.
- Cattle will feel more threatened if you have a dog so keep it keep it on a close lead. If they do give chase, let the dog loose. They will chase the dog, not you, but the dog is most likely to outrun them.
Walking on Open Access Land: We are fortunate to have large areas of open access land in the Haltwhistle area. This is land designated by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 as land on which you have the "right to roam" - without using specific paths. Open access land includes mountains, moorland, heaths and downs that are in private ownership, or which may be registered as common. There are some restrictions on the ways in which you can enjoy your right to roam - please see government guidance. Please be aware that open access land can be closed on occasion.