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Walk Around Fontburn Reservoir

Introduction

We started this walk at the car park beside Fonburn Reservoir Dam. The approach to the reservoir is along a narrow country road with passing places.

From the car park we followed a route along the dam and on roads past Newbiggin Farm onto muddy footpaths and returned along the south side of the reservoir.

This was not a way marked trail, but we did follow public footpaths and roads / footpaths open to the public at that time.

Distance - Approx 3.5 miles

Parking - Fontburn Reservoir

Toilets - Nearest public - Rothbury (Toilets at car park visitor centre when open)

Fontburn Reservoir.
Fontburn Reservoir.
Reservoir and Valve Tower.
Reservoir and Valve Tower.

 

Walk

1) We left the car park and walked north past the valve tower towards the dam. Many of the valve tower buildings in older reservoirs were built with a bit of style as well as being functional, unlike the modern concrete structure.

Valve Tower and Walkway.
Valve Tower and Walkway.

View from the dam.
View from the dam.

 

2) As we walked along the dam we stopped to look at the fine old railway viaduct on our right. It's not too hard to imagine a steam train making it's way towards Rothbury or Scots Gap in the other direction. It's a pity the viaduct is closed to walkers.

Fontburn Railway Viaduct.
Fontburn Railway Viaduct.

View along the dam.
View along the dam.

 

3) At the north end of the dam there were quite a few anglers on the north shore. Fontburn is a popular fishing location.

Anglers at Fontburn Reservoir.
Anglers at Fontburn Reservoir.

North shore of the reservoir.
North shore of the reservoir.

 

4) Just past the end of the dam we followed the road right and then left towards Newbiggin Farm.

View to Ritton past the old railway.
View to Ritton past the old railway.

View to Simonside Hills.
View to Simonside Hills.

 

4) Just past the end of the dam we followed the road right and then left towards Newbiggin Farm.

There are fine views of the Simonside Hills from here. This road was not marked as a public right of way, but crossed access land and the farmer waved as he passed us on a quad bike.

View to Simonside Hills.
View to Simonside Hills.

Road to Newbiggin Farm.
Road to Newbiggin Farm.

 

5) Further along the road after passing through a gate, a public footpath joined the road, before the farm.

When we passed the farm we turned left and continued along this path towards the west end of the reservoir.


Road to Newbiggin Farm.

View to Simonside Hills.
View to Simonside Hills.

Road to Newbiggin Farm.
Road to Newbiggin Farm.

Gate after Newbiggin Farm.
Gate after Newbiggin Farm.

View to Harwood Forest.
View to Harwood Forest.

View back to Newbiggin Farm.
View back to Newbiggin Farm.

 

6) The path became a bit unclear and muddy, but we kept high above the stream on our right, through rough ground until we reached a marker post and a gate ahead.

Path towards the reservoir.
Path towards the reservoir.

Marker post.
Marker post.

 

7) The gate was new and not in use so we had to follow the path downhill to reach the gate in use. This path was obviously very well used by cows and other livestock and was knee deep in mud!

We managed to keep to the side by hanging onto the fence until we passed through to less muddy ground.

Muddy path to gate.
Muddy path to gate.

Path after gate.
Path after gate.

 

8) At this point we followed the path across boggy ground before crossing a footbridge which took us to a bracken covered clearing which we crossed.

First of many footbridges.
First of many footbridges.

Looking back through the bracken.
Looking back through the bracken.

 

9) After the clearing we followed the path into the woods where it became much firmer underfoot. This was a very quiet and pleasant area.

Dappled sunshine in the woods.
Dappled sunshine in the woods.

A pleasant quiet path.
A pleasant quiet path.

 

10) We crossed another footbridge and continued through the woods at the west end of the reservoir which we could just see through the trees.

Another footbridge.
Another footbridge.

Approaching the nature reserve area.
Approaching the nature reserve area.

 

11) Continuing along this path we were rewarded with views of the west end of the reservoir. This is a nature reserve and fenced off to protect the wildlife.

This area was very peaceful and apart from one set of footprints on the path seemed unvisited. In fact the only person we saw on this walk after leaving the dam was the farmer some distance back.

Fontburn Reservoir nature reserve area.
Fontburn Reservoir nature reserve area.

View towards Harwood.
View towards Harwood.

No fishing in this area.
No fishing in this area.

A peaceful quiet area.
A peaceful quiet area.

 

12) We followed the path away from the reservoir, heading west and through a gate.

Path away from the nature reserve area.
Path away from the nature reserve area.

Another gate to pass through.
Another gate to pass through.

 

13) After more muddy ground we turned left where we saw a rough track across a stream. More mud and water to cross!

Another wet path.
Another wet path.

Boggy wet stream crossing.
Boggy wet stream crossing.

 

14) On the south side of this stream we turned left at a marker post. This was a waymarked path from the reservoir.

Marker post on the path back to the reservoir.
Marker post on the path back to the reservoir.

Heading towards the big boulder.
Heading towards the big boulder.

 

15) We followed this path towards a large boulder where we crossed a stile.

Big boulder beside the path.
Big boulder beside the path.

Another stile to cross.
Another stile to cross.

 

16) On the other side of the stile the path rose steadily through some boggy patches, with the woods and reservoir on our left.

The path up here was wet and boggy in places.
The path up here was wet and boggy in places.

Marker post with the reservoir ahead.
Marker post with the reservoir ahead.

 

17) As the path levelled out there was a fine view of the reservoir ahead.

After crossing more boggy ground we reached a stile above the south shore of the reservoir.

Great view of the reservoir ahead.
Great view of the reservoir ahead.

Another stile to cross back into the woods.
Another stile to cross back into the woods.

 

18) The path dropped down towards the shore, through the woods, where a clearing gave us a view right along the reservoir to the dam.

Through the woods to the shore.
Through the woods to the shore.

View along the reservoir.
View along the reservoir.

 

19) The path was much drier along here and is a path used by anglers to some of the fishing locations.

We soon reached one of these and stopped to take some photos with a long lens, looking towards the dam and valve tower, where we started this walk.

Path through the woods.
Path through the woods.

View to the dam and valve tower.
View to the dam and valve tower. (Long lens needed)

 

20) The path rose towards a footbridge which we crossed.

Path rising to a bridge.
Path rising to a bridge.

Approaching the bridge.
Approaching the bridge.

 

21) This took us to another footbridge a short distance further on.

Path to another bridge.
Path to another bridge.

Crossing the bridge.
Crossing the bridge.

 

22) After crossing this bridge we reached another small clearing with a bench seat beside the shore, with more fine views.

After the seat the path became a board walk before rising away from the shore.

An old seat with a great view.
An old seat with a great view.

Board walk path.
Board walk path.

 

23) We followed the path alongside the woods and fields until we reached the reservoir shore once again.

Footpath beside fields.
Footpath beside fields.

Back to the reservoir shore.
Back to the reservoir shore.

 

24) At this point we stopped for more photos as this was another good viewpoint. In the distance the Simonside Hills formed the backdrop to the north shore and the road above it where we had passed earlier.

View to the valve tower.
View to the valve tower.

View across the reservoir to Simonside Hills.
View across the reservoir to Simonside Hills.

 

25) From here we followed the path which became much wider and led us back to the parking area and our starting point. We stopped on the way to take more photos for the Fontburn section of our Northumberland photo website.

Footpath back to the parking area.
Footpath back to the parking area.

View along the east shore.
View along the east shore.

Approaching the parking area.
Approaching the parking area.

View along the reservoir.
View along the reservoir.

Parking area.
Parking area.

View along the shore.
View along the shore.

Notes

Walking Gear:

- Good walking boots advised - parts of this walk were very boggy and wet.  gaiters helpful in places.

- Waterproof clothing advisable depending on the weather forecast.

Food and drink advisable.

Maps - Ordnance Survey Landranger sheet no.   81 - Alnwick, Morpeth & Surrounding area.

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