Trigg point on Great Hetha

Great Hetha Hill Run from College Valley

The College Valley is a beautiful valley in the Northumberland section of the Cheviot Hills. We were expecting a very quiet day in the hills: Hethpool at the bottom of the valley is quite difficult to get to and the rest of the valley has limited vehicle access, with permits required to go past the free car park at Hethpool. A glance at the OS map for the area reveals plenty of routes, both low and hilly from the free car park, so we have never yet applied for the permit.

We were surprised therefore to find the valley quite busy. A small notice signposted the way to Hethpool show, which was taking place in the open field beyond the car park. This was a combination of a sheepdog trial and a terrier show – so very much an upland show.

We set off up the valley using the road. I was mistaken in thinking this would be a flat start, it was a gradual incline all the way, so stopping to watch the working dogs was a good excuse for a short breather. As we continued up the road we were regularly having to pull to the side as smart cars with well-dressed passengers kept coming past us, probably going to a family event at Cuddystone Bar at the head of the valley.

Trowupburn and Great Hetha

We kept on the road until White Hall, when we took the public footpath on the right signposted to Trowupburn. This started as a rough track going steeply uphill and then bears right onto a much nicer grassy track, still going uphill. We continued on this track, ignoring one to the right, keeping along the contour track until a new stile over a fence. Turn right before going over the fence and follow a narrow track to the farm below – Trowupburn.

Follow the arrows around the farm and pick up their access road for a short distance before turning right up the permissive path, signposted as the Hillforts Trail. This is the start of your climb up Great Hetha (343m) and the ridge up is runnable in places (even by me!) When you reach the trig point make sure you enjoy the stunning views before you head down and to your right following the Hillforts Trail back towards the College Valley.

Bird’s eye view

We had a splendid bird’s eye view of the showground below us to help us with navigation. When you reach the wall turn right, following the track down and meeting the road where you turn left to return to the carpark. It was quite a tricky descent, being steep and stony, the dry ground of the 2022 drought meant the surface was quite difficult to grip – even with my fell shoes on. The route might be better run anticlockwise, as you would have a much gentler (fun) descent from Great Hetha.

If you like a bit of a wild swim, Hethpool Linn, just a short walk from the car par in the opposite direction provides you with a picturesque cooling off spot.

Trowupburn from Great Hetha
Looking back towards Trowupburn
The ridge up to Great Hetha
Peter studying the ridge up Great Hetha
Hethpool Show from the top of Great Hetha
Bird's eye view of Hethpool Show
Hethpool Linn
A fine swimming spot at Hethpool Linn

Distance: 6.8km

Elevation: 260 metres

Difficulty: Medium run

Date Ran: 7th August 2022