The route, which is annotated on Ordnance Survey maps, is approximately 36 miles long and split into four easy stages. Those more energetic have run the course, whilst others have done it more leisurely over several visits to the area. The options are yours. Whichever way you plan your adventure you will see the best that the North Pennines AONB has to offer.
This circular long-distant route of approximately 35 miles that will take you over wide-open moorland, along lush verdant valleys and discover some hidden gems along the way. There are sign posts along the route and a guidebook that not only explains the path, but also the history of the area as you make your way. Starting in the small town of Allendale beside a water fountain that was paid for by this travelling tea salesman.
Allendale and the surrounding valleys were once a hive of industry and religion with lead mines in all of the villages and Methodist chapels of various branches that developed in the area. There are even records of John Wesley himself preaching in the churches and in one case on a bridge. Alas the mines gradually closed, the population moved away to find alternative employment and many of the chapels fell into ruin.
An example of this decline in population is Coalcleugh, high in the West Allen Valley, once home to a population of two to three hundred people and at the forefront of mining technology. Now there are just three habitable house and Mother Nature is reclaiming all the mine workings. The route takes you adjacent to ‘The States of Coalcleugh’ where the field system and ruined houses stand as a reminder of what has gone before.
Nenthead, another village that was heavily involved in lead and zinc mining, also producing silver as a by-product, has an interesting mine museum that offers tours underground as well as static displays. The route will take you passed the model village, one man’s labour of love that is well worth visiting.
The historic market town of Alston, the highest market town in England and once centre of mining for a royal mint that was based at Carlisle. It is here that you enter the South Tyne River valley, having risen a few miles away to the south of Garrigill a few miles away. As you wander along the valley the South Tynedale Narrow Gauge Railway will be seen, as well as going around the remains of a Roman hill fort at Epiacum or Whitely Castle.
It is then over the moors again into the Mohope Valley at Ninebanks to then re-join the West Allen valley as it gentle makes it way towards its twin river slightly north of this route. There are still old mine workings, deserted settlements, abandoned chapels and the grand Whitfield Hall to see as you enjoy the gentle rolling scenery of this last stage of Isaac’s Tea Trail.
To enjoy this long-distance route to the full have a look at their website and even purchase one of the guides which detail the history as you go along. Book your break with us to enjoy this an so much more that this little corner of the North Pennines has to offer.