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Daft as a Brush House
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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.

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.

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.


You can also buy the book at our shop at Eldon Garden, Newcastle.

Walk updates

warningRoute 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 further four kissing gates. You meet an access road at Mount Pleasant Cottage.Turn left and walk down the road for a short way and bear left at the fork. (If the weather conditions are bad you may prefer to turn right and continue on the road), Walk down the road for about 120yds and go over the stone stile on the right. Walk up the field towards the gap between the tree and the telegraph pole to a ladder stile. Cross the stile and continue ahead in the same direction to exit via the stone stile onto an access road to Burn Brae Lodge Ignore the access road but instead turn left to walk up the minor road.

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.


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.

warningRoute amendments – Stage 8

Haydon Bridge to Warden – Temporary Diversion at Fourstones due to an area of landslip.
See the bottom of Page 109 of the Guide Book.  The riverside path is officially blocked just beyond the large house (Riverside Cottage). The diversion adds an extra 2 miles to the route but you are compensated by excellent views along the well-waymarked public bridleway from Fourstones to Warden. The route is marked on OS Explorer OL43.

Follow the paved path and the gravel drive in front of the riverside house and then cross the railway line in accordance with the warning light. Follow the access road to the junction with the main road and turn right. Follow the pavement for about 0.25 miles. Cross over with care to go up the road to the left of the bus shelter. Turn right at the public footpath sign, “Whinney Hill ½”.Go through the first of two gates and follow the path as it winds past the gardens. After going through a wide gate, cross the minor road. You pass a public bridleway sign, “Warden 2, Bridge End 2”. Proceed ahead on the stony path. In a short way, a further sign indicates a right turn through a gate to the same destinations. Cross the field diagonally in the direction of the sign to meet a farm track and a wall on the right. Turn left and follow the track as it goes through a gate with a wall now on your left. After about 350 yards, turn left through the waymarked metal gate and then immediately right. With the wall now on your right, climb ahead joining a farm track.  Go through the gate just before the property on the left. Once through the gate, turn right to follow the bridleway sign to Warden with the wall on you right.

You soon pick up a narrow path that leads through the edge of Laverick Plantation. At the end of the wood, go through the gate to follow the sign, “Quality Cottage, Bridge End”. Proceed along the faint grassy path with a hedge on your right. A farm track takes you through a gate and past a further bridleway sign. Continue downhill. When the track levels levels off, you go through a gate next to a stone stile. After a few yards, leave the track and go through a gate on your right at a well-marked sign. Go through a gate in the bottom right-hand corner of the field and turn right.
The path descends along a sunken gully which can be muddy. You arrive at a junction of paths and two properties. Turn left onto what is a public footpath (rather than a bridleway). Follow the narrow path with a cottage and gardens on your right. The path leads through a wooded glade. Turn right when you meet the road, walk under the railway bridge and in a short distance you arrive at the end of the diversion at The Boatside Inn (Page 111).

downloadFourstones Riverside alternative notice

PDF information sheet.


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)

Cumbria: see www.visitcumbria.com

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

NewcastleGateshead: see www.newcastlegateshead.com

North Tyneside: see www.northtyneside.gov.uk

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.


BOOK-COVERDaft as a Brush Walk Big Launch

The River Tyne Trail- sources to sea was officially launched on Tuesday 19 April from Tynemouth & South Shields piers, Tyne Head, Garrigill & Deadwater, Kielder. Schoolchildren sang “Waters of Tyne” as walkers set out from the two starts and two finishes to converge 3 1/2 days later at “The Meeting of the Waters”, near Warden, Hexham.