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Daft as a Brush House
Gosforth, Newcastle, NE3 2DR

River Tyne Trail, Sources to Sea

This 135-mile walk passes through a wonderful variety of terrain and scenery leading from close to the Pennines in Cumbria and the Cheviots in Northumberland. It encompasses Northern Europe’s largest man-made lake, vestiges of Roman, early Christian heritage and railway history as well as the regeneration and transformation of one of the world’s most foremost shipbuilding regions.

It entails various river crossings including numerous bridges, a tunnel and even a ferry. The spirit of this wonderful river is captured in two contrasting songs, the beautiful 18th century ballad, “Waters of Tyne”, and the powerful modern, Jimmy Nail song, “Big River”.

The idea for this walk, from the sources of the Tyne to where the river reaches the sea, was the brainchild of Brian Burnie. Former businessman Brian is the founder of the charity, Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care.

He believed that such a walk would generate interest in the charity and have particular relevance for people affected, in one way or another, by cancer.

In March 2012, Brian, together with three friends, carried out the original pilot walk from each of the two sources of the River Tyne to the sea at Tynemouth and South Shields. In October 2013 a Chinook helicopter from RAF Odiham lowered two four-metre-high stones, weighing 5 tonnes each, to establish an obelisk marking the source of the North Tyne at Deadwater Farm close to the border between Northumberland and Scotland.

The source of the South Tyne at Tyne Head in Cumbria already had a similar monument. In March 2016 marker stones were erected at the finishes of the walk at both Tynemouth and South Shields. Subsequently, one was installed near the meeting of the North and South Tynes near Warden. 

Joy Hornsby, Phil, Helen and their dog, Chance are walking the River Tyne Trail in stages. Joy has written an excellent blog, highlighting her experiences and adventures on their walking challenge – from Sources to Sea. Read her blog by clicking here. (Opens in a new window).

downloadDownload the PDF Map of the Walk

Illustrating the entire adventure, this map offers an overview to the walk.

Guide Book

The guide book, written by Peter Donaghy and John Laidler and published by Sigma Press in 2015, contains clear, easy to follow and comprehensive directions.

We’re delighted to announce, the guide book received the Great Outdoors Magazine’s Silver Award as runner-up in the 2018, Book of the year competition! In 2019 the walk received national recognition when it was included on Ordnance Survey mapping.

The walk is divided into twelve stages of approximately the same length, based on ease of access, with additional entry and exit points. This enables walkers to create their own itinerary, thus serving both long-distance walkers and day-walkers.

The book, in a convenient pocket-size format, contains outline maps for each stage together with extracts from the relevant OS maps. It is beautifully illustrated and contains abundant background information of interest also to “armchair walkers”. Sir Alan Craft explores what lies behind Brian Burnie and his vision to help cancer patients; Brian Burnie himself explains his reasons for establishing the walk and his hopes for its future; while international rock star, Sting, reflects on his childhood memories and the symbolic significance of the “irrepressible” River Tyne.

BOOK-COVERRiver Tyne Trail: Sources to Sea is now available to buy from Daft as a Brush with PayPal.

£12.99 + P&P


Walk updates

Route amendments – Stage 1

Source to Kielder Dam
See Page 24: The Lakeside Way path has had to be closed due to damage caused by Storm Arwen. Until It is reopened, hopefully Easter (mid April 2022), it will be necessary to follow the Trail from the Kielder Dam (Yarrowmoor car park (Page 29). Meanwhile watch this page.

Route amendments – Stage 3

Bellingham to Barrasford
Redesmouth Bridge has been temporarily closed (September-November 2021). The cross-country alternative that follows could also be used to avoid walking on the busy road even when the bridge and road reopen.

See Page 47.. beware of the traffic while walking beneath a railway bridge. Turn left almost immediately after the bridge onto the byway, “Sandstone Way Cycle Route”. Follow the surfaced track, ignoring tracks- off and with some steep ascents/descents, for about a mile to cross a stone bridge (Rede Bridge). Bear left and climb a short way on the stony track to reach a fingerpost, “Redesmouth ½”, with a cottage on the left (Crossing Cottage). Turn right and proceed through a number of gates/stiles along the broad track for about ¾ mile until you reach the main road where a fingerpost indicates, “Countess Park Wood½”. Cross the road with care and proceed onto the access road between the dwellings….
This alternative is about a mile longer than the direct route

Route amendments – Stage 5

Source of the South Tyne to Alston Page 71
The route no longer goes through the farmyard at Hole House and Paragraph 3, Line 6 should now read: After some 60yds go over the waymarked stile next to a gate and walk ahead to pass the farm buildings of Hole House on your left. Go through the gate, cross the farm road and …”

warningRoute amendments – Stage 7

Haltwhistle to Haydon Bridge – Allen Banks National Trust site
Due to severe landslips and the loss of the wobbly bridge it is no longer possible to access Morralee Tarn from the car park side of the National Trust site at Allen Banks.  Walkers now need to follow the road from the site entrance as detailed in the Guidebook Page 100.

Route amendments Stage 10

Corbridge to Wylam
Due to a significant landslide following exceptional rainfall in December 2015, part of the route between Corbridge and Riding Mill has become impassable. Consequently the route has had to be permanently diverted – See pages 123-125.

(Map OS Explorer OL43). This stage of the trail begins from Corbridge at the south end of the bridge at the access road in front of the Lion Court apartments. Turn right and follow the road as it climbs to go over the bridge over the railway. Just beyond the two traffic mirrors, go up the steps to enter the woods.
Bear right and follow the path between the trees and go through the waymarked gate. Continue up the field edge. At the top of the field go over the stile. Cross the road with care and enter the field opposite. Continue along the field edge with shrub land on your right. Leave the field by the waymarked stile.

Cross the lane (Ladycutter Lane) and go through the waymarked gate. Continue straight ahead climbing quite steeply at times as you pass through a series of kissing gates. You meet an access road at Mount Pleasant Cottage. Turn left and walk down the road for a short way, bear right at the fork and continue on the road which climbs quite steeply, Bear right when you reach the access road to Burn Brae Lodge.

Continue along the minor road as it climbs steadily with woods on your left before it bears left to climb past High Ash and High Level Cottage. At the top of the climb you pass Prospect Hill farm. At the crossroads turn left. The road descends gradually for about 3⁄4 mile. (Map OSExplorer 316). At the T-junction turn left.After about 220yds, turn right into the entrance to some properties at Riding Hills. Walk straight ahead between the properties and turn right before reaching a gate. Walk a few yards along the side of the property and go through a gate. Cross a stile to exit from the properties. Continue down the field edge with the hedge on your left.

After going through two gates you arrive at road. Turn left and follow this slightly busier road past the pleasant properties of Beauclerc. Continue along the road as it bears right and descends to meet the main road. Cross over with care and turn right into Riding Mill. Continue ahead to rejoin the route described from The Wellington on Page 125. This amendment adds 3⁄4 mile to the Corbridge-Riding Mill section. If you wish to make up for lost time and avoid further climbs, you can follow the pavement alongside the A695 from Riding Mill to Stocksfield, rather than the more scenic route
(see P125-128).

downloadFarnley Scar alternative notice

PDF information sheet.


Route amendments – Stage 12(a)

North side of Tyne to Tynemouth Page 165
Page 165, Line 6, “Once across the walkways…” to Page 166, Line 13. “To resume the trail…”

Once across the walkways, turn immediately right along the riverside path with some modern housing on  your left. The surfaced path soon climbs between the trees away from the riverside. (Further developments should enable you to continue along the waterside all the way to the North Shields Ferry landing). Turn right immediately after the metal barrier and continue up a narrow surfaced path, parallel to an access road. At the top of the rise, bear right to follow the road as it descends past further housing developments and two modern high-rise buildings. You pass a turning circle for the bus service and a few yards on the right lies the ferry landing.
To resume the trail…

Route amendments – Stage 12(b) South side of Tyne to South Shields

Bottom of Page 181- top of Page 184 altered as follows:

You arrive at a further entrance to the Port of Tyne at Tyne Dock. Cross the access road with care to pass Navigation House. A sign indicates that Tyne Dock Metro Station is ¼ mile to the right. At the roundabout turn left in the direction “Riverside B1302”. Look out for a bench behind which are three metal figures of local significance (Sarah Milligan, comedian; a Roman centurion and Norman Fry, cycle maker). Ignore the sign indicating “New Route” to the right and instead keep to the left, with Kennedy’s pub on the right. The busy road passes the Port of Tyne Warehouse Service as it climbs for about ¾ mile. At the top of the rise as the road bears right you need to turn left down an access road

Walk down the access road (West Holburn). Through the railings, you will see the Port of Tyne International Terminal and possibly one of the DFDS Seaways vessels. Follow the road which turns right to join Commercial Road. Turn left to pass the Trimmers Arms and then, on the right, South Tyneside Law Courts. Watch out after about 100yds, to turn left to leave the roadside path. Walk down the narrow path and descend thirteen steps towards a housing complex (to avoid the steps you could continue straight ahead).

Route amendments – Stage 12(b) South side of Tyne to South Shields

Eventually, you arrive at a roundabout near the centre of Jarrow. If you wish to seek refreshments or you feel you have come far enough after walking about 7 miles, turn right for local amenities and Jarrow Metro Station.

However, to continue on the trail, turn left and follow the road (B1297) for about a mile. On the right you will see a Tyne Tunnel ventilation tower while the Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels entrances lie to the left. You might like to walk down and visit the entrance and enjoy the view of the river from the riverside park. (Here you have the opportunity, should you wish, to walk beneath the river and continue the trail down the north side of the Tyne.

To continue down the south side of the river, continue ahead on the B1297 for about ¼ mile before turning left just before a gasometer and the exit to Cemex Jarrow Wharf. Bear right and walk past the bollards to follow the surfaced, path as it descends to an access road near the River Don.

Accommodation and tourist information

For additional information see the following Tourist Information Centres:

Northumberland: see www.visitnorthumberland.com

Bellingham TIC:
The Heritage Centre, Hillside, Bellingham, NE48 2GR (Tel: 01434 220616)

Corbridge TIC:
Hill Street, Corbridge NE45 5AA. (Tel: 01434 632815)

Haltwhistle TIC:
Mechanics Institute, Westgate, Haltwhistle NE49 OAX (Tel: 01434 652220)

Hexham TIC:
Wentworth Car Park, Wentworth Place, Hexham, NE46 1QE (Tel: 01434 652220)
See www.visithexham.net

See www.visitcumbria.com

Alston TIC:
Town Hall, Front Street, Alston CA9 3RF (Tel: 01434 382244)

See www.newcastlegateshead.com

North Tyneside:
See www.visitnorthtyneside.com

North Shields TIC:
Royal Quays, North Shields, NE29 6DW (Tel: 0191 200 5895)

South Tyneside:
See www.visitsouthtyneside.co.uk

South Shields Visitor Information Centre:
Haven Point, Pier Parade, South Shields NE33 2JS (Tel: 0191 424 7788)


To The Sources
Both sources are located in isolated spots in sparsely-populated landscapes. To get to the sources you will need to use your own transport or a combination of public transport and taxis. Alternatively many walkers make use of two cars, parking one at either end of their walk. Hexham provides an important link between both the North and South Tyne with bus and rail services as well as several taxi firms.

Source of the North Tyne
Own transport – If you are arranging to be dropped off by an accommodating relative or friend, to reach the North Tyne source you need to leave the B6320 at Bellingham and follow the C200 through Kielder Village for about three miles. The trail starts just before the England/Scotland border about 475 yds beyond Deadwater Farm. There is limited roadside parking space.

Public transport – You can travel from Newcastle to Hexham either by bus or by train. Arriva bus number 685 departs from Eldon Square bus station Newcastle. Northern Rail trains to Hexham depart from Newcastle Central Station. From Hexham Bus Station, Howard Snaith Coaches and Tyne Valley Coaches run services to Bellingham, Mondays to Saturdays. The Howard Snaith Coaches carry on to Kielder Castle twice a day. There is no public transport from Kielder to the start of Deadwater. For taxis consult Tourist Information Centres.

Source of the South Tyne
Whether you travel by your own or public transport, you can only use vehicles to a point which lies two miles from the source, i.e. you have to walk two miles before reaching the Trail starting point.

Own transport – Take the B6277 from Alston and follow the signs to Garrigill. Go through Garrigill, bear left at a junction and carry straight on when the Pennine Way road goes off to the right. After about two miles, you come to the end of vehicular access at a cattle grid. You must now walk to the source along the bridleway.

Public transport – You can travel from Newcastle to Haltwhistle either by bus or by train. Arriva bus number 685 departs from Eldon Square bus station Newcastle. Northern Rail trains to Haltwhistle depart from Newcastle Central Station. Wrights Brothers Coaches bus number 888 operates a once a day service from Newcastle Coach Station to Alston during July, August and September. For taxis consult Tourist Information Centres.

• Images of the stones to mark the finish of the River Tyne Trail.

News and Announcements

We are pleased to announce that the Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care walk guidebook – ‘River Tyne Trail: Sources to Sea’ achieved Silver runner-up status in The Great Outdoors magazine’s 2018 “Book of the Year” competition and In 2019 the walk received national recognition when it was included on Ordnance Survey mapping.

New hard copies of OS maps are now only published when justified by demand. Consequently the River Tyne Trail so far has only been marked on the May 2019 edition of OS Explorer 43 Hadrian’s Wall map which covers a large section of the route.  However, the complete route of the River Tyne Trail is currently available on the digital version of OS mapping (see:ordnancesurvey.co.uk)

The walk now features on the database of the Long Distance Walkers Association
Click here to view on the LDW website.

The three Maley boys, Benjamin, eleven, and nine-year-old twins, Jonathan and Matthew, with their parents Sean and Carla, reach the Daft as a Brush marker stone at the end of their 95 mile walk along the River Tyne from Deadwater to Tynemouth.

To date they appear to have been the youngest people to have completed the trail. The boys decided to undertake this challenge after seeing Matt Baker on BBC TV’s Children in Need programme escorting a young girl, with the devastating Niemann-Pick condition, on his long rickshaw ride. 

The Trail, with its clearly defined stages of between seven and fifteen miles, lent itself perfectly to their needs. However, each stage had to fit in with other family commitments especially as the boys and their parents are competitive runners and members of North Shields Polytechnic Athletics Club!

Consequently the walk was spread over several months, starting in snow in January and ending in sunshine in May.

They were joined by friends at various stages and accompanied by co-guidebook writer, Peter Donaghy along the way. Peter said, “What a pleasure to witness the enthusiasm and interest the boys showed as they eagerly undertook this challenge- it took me all my time to keep up with them!”.

They were joined by some 50 friends and supporters as they reached the Daft as a Brush stone at Tynemouth, having satisfactorily achieved their aim and raised some £4,000 for charity.

The Trail now has its own distinctive waymarks. Keep an eye out for these helpful arrows to navigate the walk. The walk is now available on OS Mapping.

Have you walked the trail?
We would love to hear your feedback, please get in touch with the author, Peter Donaghy or Daft as a Brush by emailing us your feedback and comments. Thank you!