“It is hardly possible in a limited space to enter minutely into the many public walks that exist about the town and neighbourhood, but for the sake of enumerating a few, we will commence at the top of Rotten Row….
From this point, two roads branch off ; one leading to the south, by way of the Recreation Ground, Herd’s House, and the West Turnpike, and the other going through the Quarry Hills and joining the Abbey Road at the Bridge.
(The path south through the Recreation Ground to the West Turnpike (Rothbury Road) is still there, but Skelly had little more to say on that route. He went on to describe the path north in some detail. It can still be followed, and must have changed little since 1869.
From the latter structure, you get a fine view of the Mill, River, and Vale. A short distance from the bridge and summit of the hill, thickly surrounded by trees, is a picturesque little modern building known by the name of Barnyard Cottage; where for years has resided, Francis Holland, Esq., the respected constable of the castle.
The walk from Barnyards to the north turnpike, or old Edinburgh road,is one of the finest in the neighbourhood; all along the route, a magnificent view of the Castle, Town, and Dairy Grounds is commandable. From east to west, the whole of the ground traversed formerly belonged to Alnwick Abbey, and was known as the Pennywells. How the land came to acquire this name, has often been a matter of surmise. Not a few have been inclined to think that it may have arisen from “penance”, a punishment inflicted on certain brethren of the convent, for non-compliance of duty ; whilst not undervaluing the cogency of such reasoning, we think it is more likely that the name may have arisen from the following facts :— It is now generally admitted that the first of the Norman settlers in this district, pitched their habitation on the banks of the Aln; it is equally certain that for a time they would find no great supply of spring water in the vale, and that they would be compelled to seek it from the neighbouring heights. This being so, the most feasible notion is, that a small customary charge would be levied by the brethren for the use thereof, hence the Pennywells.
Having reached the north road, should you feel inclined, you may prolong your journey in a northerly direction by way of the ruins of St. Leonard’s Hospital and Malcolm’s Cross. In prosecuting your course up the brow of the hill,you will find yourself amply repaid for any additional trouble,by the magnificent sight of the Cheviot Mountains, and other places of interest in the landscape,gradually expanded to the view. From Broomhouse, which stands on the top of the hill, a road strikes to the east,passing through the delightful village of Denwick, and communicating with other roads leading in the direction of Embleton, Howick, Longhoughton, Littlehoughton, and Ratcheugh. The other footpath goes in a northerly direction,and leads to Broxfield, Rennington, &c.
We are posting these to suggest a range of walks around Alnwick, where it should be easier to achieve social distancing, and there’s no need to take the car.