Northumbrian Climbing Guide

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This access information is maintained directly by the NMC Access Officer, who coordinates all access issues in Northumberland on behalf of the NMC and the BMC.

Even with the Countryside and Rights of Way Act implemented many of the crags in Northumberland are on private property with no open access. We have pretty good relationships with almost all of the tenants and landowners whom we come into contact with as climbers, with the result that there are vrtually no crags where climbing is banned, and certainly no 'mainstream' crags are unaccessable. This is in part due to the efforts of local activists maintaining good relations, but also part due to the generally good conduct of both visitors and locals when climbing in the county. Please try and keep things this way by acting sensibly when out and about in these beautiful areas.

These issues are all mentioned because of real incidents, some involving the police.


Some modern tractors have hugely wide weelbases and in some cases need to use the verge on one side of the road, so on narrow roads:

  • Park on one side of the road only
  • Leave plenty of room, make sure your weels are off the tarmac

Don' t obstruct gates by parking in or opposite them. It takes a lot of room to get a tractor and long trailer turned.


Yes, we know, always close gates after you, but it needs saying again. Climbing has already been banned from one crag because of this.

Crags on Open Country as defined by the CRoW act.

You have a legal right to climb on crags on CRoW land and to access them, except when restrictions are in place. The rules concerning restrictions are quite complex, but one worth noting here is that a Land Manager can apply for discretionary restrictions for up to 28 days a year, but not on these days:

  • Bank holidays, Christmas Day or Good Friday;
  • Saturdays between 1st June and 11th August;
  • Sundays between 1st June and 30th September;
  • more than 4 weekend days (Saturdays or Sundays or both) in any calendar year.

The official website for pubic information on CRoW access is here and there is more information here

Where crags are on Open Country, the icon is shown in the access description for the crag.

Crags with known access problems

AidNesting RestrictionsPeregrines usually nest here, they make themselves known - so please keep away if you see them , or more likley, hear their mewing call.
Back Bowden Doors There have been issues with people obstructing the gate. Don't. Only part of teh crag is on open access land.
Back Harbottle Crag Access is theoretically not permitted, but the crag seems to be wall away from any action, being just 300mtres inside the fence and inside the Danger Area markers on the OS map.
BerryhillAsk for permissionAsk at farm
Bowden Doors Do not obstruct the gate when parking. Park off the tarmac and on the opposite side of the road from the crag only.
Only that section of crag north of the wall is on CRoW land, climbing on the section up to the wall, and access from the south, is still at the discretion of the farmer.
Bradys Crag Access isnít likely to be a problem as the crag is adjacent to a public right of way.
Corby's Bridge Take care with the fence, there is no gate.
Corbys East none
Crag Lough (High Shield Crag)Nesting RestrictionsThere are usually nesting Peregrines at Crag Lough. During the season, please do not walk east of the lake end and avoid all routes above the lake until after 21 June
Cragend Climbing is has not been officially approved. The current recommendation is that if you are a National Trust member, just go ahead and use the crag on the Gun Walk. Avoid all other crags. Ensure that you clean off chalk afterwards and don't clear ANY vegetation - this is a landscaped area. If you aren't an NT member then we can't offer any advice really.
Cullernose Bird ban from May to August
DoveholeAsk for permissionAsk at farm
Drake Stone Ignore roadside red flags, the crag isn't inside the range boundary.
East Woodburn (Staniel Heugh) A few cars can be parked just past the crag at a wooden post, but take care not to block access onto the moor.
Edlingham Access is encouraged by the Forestry. The plan for the area is to let the hillside regenrate naturally and if any trees root too close to problems we have permission to uproot them. We are also encouraged to form paths to and between the boulders whilst the regenration is starting.
Goats ButtressTotal banTotal ban!
GoatscragAsk for permissionThe landowner does not allow you to drive up the private road to the foot of the crag.
Great DourCrag on Firing RangesThe crag lies just inside the firing ranges, so permission should be sought by phoning 0191 239 4261 or 01830 520 569. This is normally granted as the crag is nowhere near any target areas.
Hareshaw Linn It should be noted that Hareshaw Linn is now in National Park ownership and is an SSSI. Due regard should be given to maintaining its special environment.
Hartburn Dene The wood is managed by the Woodland Trust who permit public access, but who would be unlikely to be too keen climbing on the crag since their remit is to encourage wildlife, especially trees and plants, some of which grow on crags.
HeckleyTotal banInformal access arrangements have been suspended by the landowner. Climbers have been requested not to visit until further notice - BMC are working on this
HenholeNesting RestrictionsDo not allow anyone to deter you outside of the nesting season. There are NO restrictions at this crag other than the usual nesting season ones - there are Ravens and Peregrines here.
Raven nesting.
To drive up the College Valley, a permit must be obtained from:
Sale and Partners, 18-20 Glendale Road, Wooler. 01668 281611
The permit can be collected on Sundays.
Hound Dene No right of way
Howlerhirst Feb 2008

The ownership of the isolated cottage mentioned in the guidebook has changed and the new owners would prefer if climbers did not walk past the front of the cottage.

A new track/road has been built to improve safety and security and the following arrangements have been agreed with Mrs Johnson, the farmer at High Carriteth farm

Drive up the farm track to High Carrieth farm. Just before reaching the farmhouse park on the grass verge on the right between the wood shed and the sheep pen. Let the farmer know that you have parked there to go climbing. Walk along the new road/track towards the isolated cottage. After about 250m where the track bends to the right strike out across the field on a vague path in a south westerly direction aiming for the gate on the horizon. Go through the gate and continue in a south westerly direction towards the small rocks/crag. Skirt round beneath these to the right and head across to the fence and then the crag.

Close all gates and respect fences. The crag is on CROW Access land but much of the access route is not and is with the kind permission of Mrs Johnson of High Carrieth farm.
Hunterheugh Crag The crag is on CROW land
Kyloe In (Dues Heugh) Shooting takes place in this woodland,check at the gate for any signs warning of this.Keep the gate clear at all times, so that a tractor and trailer can freely turn in from the road. Park off the tarmac and on one side of the road only.
A notice from the woodland management company has been posted on the gate. It reads:
"Deerstalking takes place within this woodland on a regular basis as part of ongoing forestry management activity.
When the stalker is onsite a warning notice will be erected here and for your own safety access to the woodland will be prohibited."
Kyloe Out (Collar Heugh) Keep gates clear at all times, the track is in constant use. Park off the tarmac and on one side of the road only. The owner of the next farm down the road has mown the verges and put some white stones up to mark the mown boundaries ouside his property. Unbelievably, people had parked on his mown area! The farmer is extremely courteous but pointed out that the places he had mown get very wet. Cars have become stuck here in the past and he doesn't have tractor to pull them out, to say nothing of the mess thay make of the grass. Please don't park in between the white rocks, or in front of his gate, which has also happened!
Linshiels 1 (Cove Crag)Crag on Firing RangesNesting RestrictionsThere is currently a bird ban in place at this crag. The access arrangements for the ranges are under review. The crag lies inside the firing ranges, so permission should be sought by phoning 0191 239 4329.
Linshiels 3 (Long Crag)Crag on Firing RangesThe crag lies inside the firing ranges, so permission should be sought by phoning 0191 239 4329.
Lookwide & Carr Edge As yet no difficulties have been encountered. Both crags are close to rights of way and access shouldn't be a problem. However Carr Edge does overlook the farm and permission has not yet been sought. The farmer is unlikely to be used to our kind of presence, so we should tread lightly.
Oxen Wood The land is 'excepted' land, which means that the landowner has succesfully placed restrictions on access. This land is owned by the Duke Of Northumberland and as far as we can see, all his open access land is excepted in this way - according to the CROW website he bans dogs.
Paddaburn It is possible to obtain permission from the Forestry Commission at Bellingham (tel. 01434 220242) to continue by car almost to the foot of the crag.
Queens Crag An honesty box has been introduced, please leave £1 when parking on the farmers land.
RatcheughAsk for permissionAsk at the folly atop the crag. The easiest way is to do one of the lines around Narrow Buttress which bring you out at the entrance to the folly, then ask!
Ravens Crag - Bowden Northern section on CROW land
Rothley Crags This crag is now owned by the National Trust, who will be monitoring the usage of the site. Don't park on the verge opposite the main crag, park in one of the laybys. Take great care not to block gates.
Sandy Crag (Key Heugh) None, but this is an active grouse moor and there will be closures under CRoW from time to time.
Shaftoe Please respect the 10 mph speed limit at the cottages, the track is not a right of way for vehicles and residents of the cottages have every right to ask the landowner to ban cars. Also, at the farmer's request, parking is by the wall after the 1st cattle grid NOT by the pond.
Shitlington There is a right of access under the CRoW act to the westmost buttresses, marked as 'Shitlington Crags' on the OS 1:25000 maps. These are butttresses 1 - 5. Wood Buttress and Farm Buttress are currently out of bounds.
Simonside In 2006 & 7 the Alnwick estates, ie the Duke of Northumberland, banned access to all of their recently acquired land, which is all of the northern Simonsides from the Ravensheugh fence eastwards. This was under the CRoW 28 day rule, we believe to protect ground nesting birds. This was from June to Mid July. Climbing on the crag during that period was banned. The situation next year is unknown.
South YardhopeCrag on Firing RangesThe crag lies inside the firing ranges, so permission should always be sought by phoning 0191 239 4329.
Stell Crag none
Swinburne Old Quarry There is no right of way and permission to use the described approach has been denied (informally via phone to local office)
The MountAsk for permissionThe crag is on private land. Please ask for permission at Titlington Mount, 500m down the road past the crag. Also keep away from the boulders in the field below the crag, which are guarded by some very large porkers which do not appreciate the finer points of the sitting start and which are quite likely to indulge in a truffle hunt in your trousers.
Tosson Pillar none
Vindolanda The landowner does not permit commercial instruction or guiding. The size of the venue and absence of belays make it unsuitable for large groups. Raptors have been reported as nesting here. The landowner does place permitted access restrictions on an annual basis, so check the Natural England access maps and BMC RAD for restrictions. If you appear to be disturbing nesting birds then leave.
White House Rocks No formal approach has been made for access but no exception has been taken so far. The buttresses in the field to the left of the former plantation (Roadside Buttress and Fence Buttress) may be subject to greater sensitivity Ė No problems have been climbed on these rocks as yet.
Widehope There is no right of way. Attempts to locate the landowner/tenant have failed. Please take care not to damage the fence at the edge of the forest