Simonside Hills and walking trails have been high on my list for a very long time. It had been recommended for its fantastic views over Northumberland, moderate difficulty of the trail and the fact that everyone who had done it, thouroughly enjoyed it. And it 100% lived up to that!
Northumberland has some really beautiful walking trails in other areas which are worth doing! The Cheviot Hills instantly spring to mind as does Thrunton Woods, both of which are must-visits if you haven’t already! But Simonside was one yet to be ticked off. After visiting, I can honestly say we will be back! This post will tell you why!
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Parking and Services at Simonside
Parking at Simonside is completely stress-free! The car park was a decent size and there were plenty of places to park. There is even a small overflow on the road up to the car park (south down the road). And BONUS, parking was completely free! This makes it a great place for a day out that won’t cost you a penny.
Here in the car park is the only picnic area. There seemed to be plenty of benches dotted around. You could always eat on the trail, but if you do please take all of your rubbish with you!
The only issue with Simonside is the fact that there are no toilets! So bear this in mind when visiting and plan ahead with it.
How to get there:
It takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there from Sunderland. Most of the journey is on the A1, then you turn off onto the A697 which is one of the main roads through Northumberland. When you get to the point where you turn off this road, the journey becomes a bit more rural so be careful driving on those country roads!
Simonside Car Park Postcode: NE65 7NW
Simonside Hills Walking Trail
In the car park, there is an information sign which has a map of the area and shows the two main routes you can walk. One is a short green trail and the other is a red trail. If you are wanting to go to the top of the hills and make the most of your trip, do the red trail! We did it anticlockwise, which starts right next to the information sign. However, you could go the other way which starts at the other side of the car park.
However, based on my experiences, if you were to do it clockwise, the first stretch uphill is really steep and I think is more manageable to go down that way. So I’d recommend anticlockwise!
I have included this image as a downloadable file below if you are wanting to do this walk and want the map to use as a reference.
The entire route is around 4.5 miles, according to the Northumberland National Park Website and should take around 3 hours to complete.
The first stretch of the walk is really nice and easy. You set off uphill through the trees following the red trail markers all the way. Unlike Thrunton Woods, you cannot get lost on this trail as there are many markers around and the path is easy to follow!
You then come to a clearing where you can look up and see the tops of the hills. This part of the trail will even out and be fairly steady going as you walk along the base of the hills.
Enjoy this part of the terrain and use it to muster some energy. We sat on some rocks and ate lunch here and I’m so glad we did as the next part is the most difficult part of the hike.
There are some stone stairs up the right side of the hill in the photo above. If you, like me, have dodgy knees, this is where they are going to play up. Also, if you brought some spare lungs, you may need them here! Be careful on these stones though as some of them are not completely secure, the same as the ones along the top of the hill so watch your footing.
But once you get to the top, I promise you it is worth it! 100%!! Take some time to appreciate this view as it is truly incredible. This photo hasn’t done it justice but you should be able to see the Cheviot Hills on the horizon from here.
If you get a clear day, you can see the entirety of Northumberland. You can see over to the Cheviot Hills, Thunton Woods in the next valley north, and out to sea! It is when you are at a peak like this that you can really appreciate how beautiful the world we live in is.
From the peak of Simonside, you can then walk across to the next peak which is the Old Stell Crag. But to get there you have to walk over this field full of these amazing white flowers. I have about 20 photos of this field because it was simply amazing to see and watch the dancing in the wind!
Once you get up to Old Stell Crag, you get a view of the summit and this field which is really beautiful to see too!
In the photo above, you can see a path, this is where you will end up walking down from the right and then down away from where this photo was taken along the edge of the tree line.
The final summit here is Dove Crag, shown in the photo below.
From here you are on the downhill stretch back to the car park. The first part is getting off the hill which takes you through this heather field.
You then come down the hill through some Christmas trees. This part of the path gives you exceptional views of the hills you were just on so be sure to look up!
And then finally, you go back into the trees and follow the path down into the car park at the bottom.
Overall, this walk has jumped into my top 10 favourites as the views were incredible and the difficulty of the walk was low. It was a very enjoyable walk and I highly recommend it!
Top Tips and Things to Remember!
- Wear Sensible Footwear. Just because it isn’t a difficult walk, doesn’t mean that you can do it in flip-flops!! Hiking shoes are essential!
- Take any and all rubbish with you, including dog waste!
Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and if you do go off into Northumberland hiking let me know of some more places that I might enjoy! I’d love some more recommendations.
Stay Safe and Happy Adventuring
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