Things to do in Birtley, Northumberland
The picturesque village of Birtley has its own quiet pub, village hall, medieval church and Post Office. Three miles away is Wark with a general store, a butchers and a choice of public houses and hotel restaurants. A bus service takes the children to school in Wark, Bellingham and Haydon Bridge.
In an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and historical interest, the village is situated approximately eight miles from Hadrian's wall and the Roman forts and is conveniently placed for walks across the fell.
Birtley is a charming sleepy village standing on a ridge over the North Tyne valley. The place name is derived from the old-English word 'beorht' meaning 'bright clearing'. Around the village perimeters are several sights indicating that the area has been settled since the iron age and Birtley Hall is built upon the site of the old castle. Servicing the spiritual needs of the village is the 12th century church of St Giles.
Take the A68 north from Hexham and you will come across the turning for Birtley. It's a small road and one that is easily missed as it lies at the bottom of a dip between two 'blind summits.'
The way is narrow, usually muddy and likely to have escapee livestock waiting to leap out in front of the unwary traveller. The scenery is wild and on a cold winters day, bleak, the fields dotted with sheep wearing dirty grey fleeces, at night their eyes eerily reflect the light from car headlights. The road winds and climbs through windswept fields, fenced only by post and wire, at times reminding one of the 'ribbon of darkness' from the poem 'The Highwayman' by Alfred Noyes.
After dropping down, the road turns to the right, then climbs again taking you through a tunnel of trees, perhaps the remnants of ancient woodland. Once passed the trees the road and verges widen, and throughout the spring and summer these verges are home to a host of wild flowers, from primroses to orchids. Its here that on the left-hand side of the road the views across the valley open up.
There can be few places in Britain to rival this vista, when on a warm summers evening you rest by a gateway to drink in the scene. Farms nestle here and there, sending columns of smoke from their chimneys straight up into the still evening air, mirrored by Eggers chimneys smoking in the distance.
Across the valley rise the hills beyond Hexham. It is not to far now to the picturesque village of Birtley with its pub, church and stone built houses; the road continues on and winds down the hillside to Wark.
Description by Christine McEwen