Hethpool, Northumberland
Starts at Hethpool, College Valley (NT894280)
5 hours 0 minutes | 9.7miles 15.6km | Strenuous
ID: 0.10355 | Developed by: Geoff Holland |
This undulating upland route starts from one of Northumberland’s finest valleys and wanders to the Scottish border via the summits of hillfort-topped Great Hetha, grass-covered Saughieside Hill and heather-carpeted Black Hag. All give fabulous views.
Main Route
Alternative Route
Point of Interest
*move mouse over graph to see points on route
Starts at

Small car park in Hethpool, College Valley (NT894280)

Ends at

Small car park in Hethpool, College Valley (NT894280)

Getting there

Occasional buses to Wooler (7.7 miles from Hethpool) from Berwick-upon-Tweed, Newcastle and Alnwick (01668 281578, glenvalley.co.uk). For local taxis, try Ron's Taxis, Wooler (01668 281281/07778 543907).

Route instructions

[1] START Follow the road, with Wester Tor rising steeply on L. Towards the end of the plantation on the R, watch for signpost indicating 'Great Hetha'. Follow the thin path around plantation edge, keeping trees close to your R as you climb towards saddle. Once reached, take broad track L to cairned summit, offering superb all-round views.

[2] Continue across summit of Great Hetha, following 'Hillfort Trail' marker posts through ramparts and across the grassy ridge. Soon you will spot picturesque white-walled Trowupburn as you head towards the stand of trees and nearby stile. Cross over, turn L along the road passing to the R of the cottage then slightly R through metal gates. Now, with the post and wire fence on your L, continue past a gorse-covered hillside to the shallow ford across the Trowup Burn.

[3] Splash across, go through gate and, bearing half-L, begin the long climb up Shorthope Shank on a clear quad track. When the gradient finally eases, the unmarked top of Saughieside Hill lies slightly L. Follow the track downhill, cross the fledgling burn and then, avoiding the track to the R, climb towards skyline fence. With the fence on your L, continue over lonely heather moor to Black Hag, the highest point of the walk. Now, carefully climb over drystone wall, continuing straight downhill to rocky Corbie Craig and thence to track.

[4] Now turn R along the Pennine Way and, when the track splits, take the R fork. Continue over splendid Steer Rig, the border fence on your R, the Halterburn Valley to your L. At the base of White Law, turn R through gate and follow rising track through bracken. When higher ground is reached and the track becomes indistinct, keep in the same general direction to reach a fence.

[5] Head R downhill and when you reach the gate on the L, turn R on contouring track. Head towards a rectangular stone sheep enclosure, and follow the track that turns R past it and down to Trowupburn . Take the access road to the L of the farm to the stile you climbed earlier in the day, just below the disused quarry.

[6] Now it is just a matter of retracing your steps back over Great Hetha, again following the Hillfort Trail marker posts. When valley road is finally reached, turn L to return to start.


This route was first published in the winter 2017 issue of walk magazine.

Developed by: Geoff Holland
Great Hetha summitGreat Hetha summit
Photo taken by: Geoff Holland
Shorthope ShankShorthope Shank
Photo taken by: Geoff Holland
Steer Rigg approaching White LawSteer Rigg approaching White Law
Photo taken by: Geoff Holland
Wideopen HeadWideopen Head
Photo taken by: Geoff Holland