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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

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.

downloadDownload the amendments here

This PDF information sheet offers an alternative walking route.



warningRoute amendments

Due to removal of contamination from the former St Antony’s Tar works a section of the riverside path will be closed until November 2016 (see Page 156). The route is temporarily diverted along the former wagonway parallel to the riverside path.


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.

For special events, talks and more:

Please visit the Daft as a Brush events page.