Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Scars of History on a Stunning Landscape

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Scars of History on a Stunning Landscape

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tony Henderson

Environment Editor Tony Henderson gets in the spirit of the high country.

There are views you can take in on the hoof, others where you are persuaded to pause and take a mental snapshot.

But in the high country of Upper Coquetdale in Northumberland, there is one vista which virtually forces the observer to sit down for half an hour and drink it all in.

Aim for Alwinton, the last village on the journey to the head of the River Coquet ( Northumberland's longest waterway which winds for 55 miles to the sea at Amble.

For a settlement which was for so long in the front line of the Scots-English tug of war, the local inn is diplomatically called the Rose and Thistle after the emblems of the two countries.

A mile beyond the inn is a right of way signpost to Shillmoor which directs walkers up Pass Peth.

This path edges up the side of the hill to a ridge, where a stunning panorama unfolds, revealing the young River Coquet winding its way down the valley, with hills rolling in from right and left.

Solitary in this broad, captivating canvas is Shillmoor Farm. Down below, to the left of a ford, is the site of the deserted medieval village of Linbriggs.

The outline of the imprints of around 15 buildings can be discerned, and boundary lines. Old accounts speak of a mill.

It is a stencil, a blueprint, of what was once a community living beside the river.

But, like Alwinton, the village was vulnerable to raiders, and this may be the reason for abandonment.

There is a 16th Century record of complaints lodged with officialdom by Alwinton and Linbriggs, protesting that the Armstrongs, Elliots, and Crosiers were among around 200 raiders who stole 100 cattle, 20 horses and took 20 local men prisoner.

Descending from the ridge, the path follows the river, passing circular drystone stells, where sheep can be gathered.

Shillmoor is a good example of the sort of sturdy, substantial farmhouses which were built in Northumberland in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. …

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