You didn’t think for a second there wouldn’t be a pint involved did you? A critical factor in deciding where to hike for us is the nearby pub – there’s just nothing better than a crisp, cold pint after trekking the lovely land of the North East. So here’s my list of the 5 best walks in the North East with a good pub close by…
…in no particular order, btw.
1.Cow Green Reservoir to Cauldron Snout
Distance: 8 miles approx.
Dog-friendly: Medium to large size dogs, yes
Free Parking: Yes
Best Pub Nearby: The Langdale Beck
The first one of my 5 best walks in the North East was, until very recently, my favourite walk. Cauldron Snout and Cow Green Reservoir are Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in Teesdale. An incredible waterfall, that (to me) pisses all over High Force plus constant incredible views of the surrounding landscape as you pass through the various terrains. It’s a really easy walk to follow although there’s quite a bit of scrambling over boulders and a hefty scale up the side of the waterfall so it’s best done in dry weather.
We didn’t actually have the best weather, and with a rather excitable dog on the lead, the rocks were tricky to navigate but not impossible. The reason why I say medium to larger dogs would be suited to this walk may be evident in the snaps I took. The side of the waterfall is quite steep and little dogs may have to be carried/lifted. I was a little anxious when crossing the two boulder fields just before you get to the bottom of the waterfall in case Jax got a paw stuck between the rocks. Of course, I was just being a standard dog mam, he glided his way across with more elegance than any of us.
There’s lots of sheep en route (Jax thought he could fight them all) so dogs must be kept on a lead.
There’s free car parking at Cow Green Reservoir and the circular walk bypassing a farm, through a fell, over some cliffs, up the waterfall and across the two mile dam, brings you back to where you started.
The closest pub is The Langdale Beck, a proper country spot with real ales on tap. But there’s also so many dainty little village not far from the reservoir with many more quintessential pubs for your post-walk pint. We may have stopped at a couple…
2. Black Banks, Weardale
Distance: 5.5 miles approx.
Free Parking: Yes
Best Pub Nearby: The Black Lion, Wolsingham Market Place
This walk has some of the most incredible views of Weardale… if you get a good day. Clear skies are a must for this circular adventure.
Starting in the market place of Wolsingham, there’s some free parking called Demesne Mill Picnic Area (DL13 3DB). The walk has an early climb, meaning you get views upon views throughout your trek. You’ll navigate through heather, plantations and pass a disused farmhouse from the 1850s to reach a trig point at Knitsley Fell. Take it all in here.
On your descent, you’ll walk through dense woodland and steadily stroll along the River Wear. It’s a lovely variety of environments and picture-perfect at every stage.
It’s pretty easy to follow, as long as you’ve got the weather. We attempted it on a cold and icy day. The higher we got, the more foggy it became. And we may have fallen off track once. Or twice.
Wolsingham is idyllic and the perfect place to rest and refresh after your walk.
There’s 3 pubs in the centre but we stopped at The Black Lion, a teeny tiny walk from the car park. It has a cracking selection of real ales, a roaring open fire and friendly locals behind the bar.
3. Craster to Low Newton via Dunstanburgh Castle
Distance: 6 miles approx.
Free Parking: No, there’s parking but you’ll need some change
Best Pub Nearby: The Jolly Fisherman, Craster
This route has made the list of 5 best walks in the North East because it’s some of the most beautiful coastline I’ve seen plus you also wander past the incredible ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle and encounter old concrete bunkers that were built in World War 2. It’s got some history this one.
There’s also plenty of pub stops along the way. In fact, I highly recommend making a mid-point visit to The Joiners Arms in Low Newton by the Sea. An absolutely gorgeous pub that’ll treat your dog better than they treat you. They’re good people.
To start the walk, you can park in Craster near the tourist information point. The parking isn’t free and can get quite busy so it’s best to get there early. Make sure you have a little change – it’s £1.00 per hour or £4.00 for all day. The walk can take up to 3 hours, depending on how many times you stop for a pint, so it’s probably wise to just get the all day ticket.
From the car you’ll make your way down to the beach and head towards the castle. You can always pop in if you like, but you’ll need some money for that too unless your a National Trust member. Circling the ruins, you’ll head down onto Dunstanburgh golf course (dogs on leads!) and through the dunes and onto the beach.
On the way back, you can go back onto the sand and head the way you came or take the coastal path that follows the shore back to Craster. 6 and two 3s really.
Returning to Craster, you must pop into the Jolly Fisherman. A lovely, charming pub that’s famous for its fresh crab sandwich. Go on, all that walking, you deserve it.
4. Morpeth to Bothal Mill
Distance: 5 miles approx.
Free Parking: Yes, limited
Best Pub Nearby: St Mary’s Inn
Number 4 of the 5 best walks in the North East was a tricky one to understand at first. It could have been the directions we were following, but once we found the beginning of the route, it was an absolute beauty! And we did it in the snow. Which made it even more picturesque. Albeit slightly tricky at times.
Our guide said to park in Morpeth town centre and walk to the beginning of the route. The directions to the starting point weren’t clear and I wouldn’t recommend it as they’re very busy roads. Since then, I’ve found there’s a layby closer to the beginning of the walk where you can park but the spaces are limited. It’s called Whorral Bank and you should look out for the New Medical Centre. Anywhere around there is good.
This trek will take you through so many different terrains but is a really easy route. You’ll walk through woodland, pastures, a village and along the river banks. Although, the paths along the river can get quite narrow so be careful where you step and keep your pooch on a short lead.
It’s another circular that allows you to explore the gorgeous Northumberland countryside.
Once you’re back at the car, you can head into the centre of Morpeth where there is plenty of dainty cafes and traditional pubs but since you’re on the area, I’d highly recommend a short 2 mile drive to St Mary’s Inn.
Recently refurbished and receiving high praise from everyone who visits, you’d be silly not to pop in for a pint or two. They also serve up one of the best Sunday roasts I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. What better way to end your weekend?
5. High Cup Nick
Distance: 8 miles approx.
Free Parking: Yes
Best Pub Nearby: The Stag Inn
I may have lied when I said in no particular order, because I kept the best for last.
High Cup Nick has swiped the title of my favourite hike and I think it’ll take some beating. There’s various walking routes you can do with this one, ranging in time, distance and difficulty.
We walked up and back down the same path, but there’s also a circular walk that takes your right around the entire u-shaped valley or you can even navigate your way down the middle of it which is an avalanche of boulders and really rather dramatic. If we hadn’t had Jax with us, I might have attempted the descent down the rocks, but he can be excitable and I couldn’t risk the wrong footing on such a steep drop. Next time!
With 350 metres of constant climbing until the walk levels, it’s canny hefty. But trust me, it’s completely worth it. It’s also rocky and uneven at times, so you’ll need to ensure your wearing solid footwear.
The early climb however, similar to the Black Banks trail in Wolsingham, ensures glorious 360 views from the very beginning of the walk. It’s also full of wildlife. Lots of sheep, cows and even wild horses dotted about the land.
There’s a small car park at Dufton, free of charge, where there’s also toilets (and a defibrillator should you need it after the climb). Coming out of the car park, turn right and follow the village road until you reach a red flag. Turn left at the flag and you’ll see you’ve began the Pennine Way route to High Cup Nick.
The circular walk brings you back to Dufton where there’s a cracking haunt over the road and to the left of the car park. If you’re lucky enough to have the incredible weather we did during our hike, you’ll need the pint. Plus it has a lovely outdoor area to enjoy it in.
I’m really, really enjoying my new hiking hobby. Not only because it always involves a pub either. I’m finding it really beneficial for my mental, and of course physical, health.
You can follow my walking adventures more regularly over on Instagram, give me a follow: @properscrumptious
Do you have any trials I can add onto my list of the 5 best walks in the North East? I wanna hear them! Drop me a comment or a message with your recommendations…
Lots of love, LB x