Cheviot Hills

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From Ring Chesters hill fort

The Cheviot Hills is a range of mountains in Northumberland and Roxburghshire, which forms the northern end of the chain of hills and fells known as the Pennines. The northernmost end of the Pennine Way long-distance footpath is across the Cheviots, finally reaching its end at Kirk Yetholm in Roxburghshire at the foot of the hills.

These are rolling hills of impressive height and bleak aspect at the greatest, but amongst them beautiful dales. There is a broad split between the northern and the southern Cheviots. The former encompass most of the high ground and are pierced by five main valleys:

The southern Cheviot Hills encompass the slopes running down to the valley of the River Coquet.

To the south-west the Cheviots merge into the Kielder Forest group of hills.

Hadrian's Wall, that great Roman defensive work, runs through the southern Cheviots. There is far more history in these hills though, for they were often a bloody battleground from the Middle Ages to the end of the Tudor Age, both in the fratricidal wars between England and Scotland and amongst the reivers who ravaged the border country until King James's days. The famous epic poem The Ballad of Chevy Chase is set amongst these hills, retelling the Battle of Otterburn.


View from Mallie Side down to the Sourhope with Hownam Law behind
In Kielder Forest

The Cheviot is the highest fell in the range, reaching 2,674 feet; this is the county top of Northumberland, and just a few hundred yards off a subsidiary summit, Cairn Hill West Top, is the county top of Roxburghshire.

Other notable fells in the range are Hedgehope Hill, Windy Gyle, Cushat Law and Bloodybush Edge. Of these, the Cheviot and Windy Gyle stand on the county boundary while the others are within Northumberland. The Northumberland section is within the Northumberland National Park.

The land is all high here and in this landscape the hills generally have low relative height to one another.

Highest fells amongst the Cheviots

Auchope Cairn

The peaks marked with a warning sign lie within the danger area of the ATE Otterburn artillery range.

Name Height OS Grid reference Coordinates
CheviotThe Cheviot 2,674 feet NT909205 55°28’40"N, 2°8’35"W
Cairn Hill 2,549 feet NT903195 55°28’10"N, 2°9’10"W
Hedgehope Hill 2,343 feet NT944197 55°28’15"N, 2°5’20"W
Comb Fell (peak to the east of the Fell) 2,139 feet NT924187 55°27’40"N, 2°7’10"W
Windy Gyle 2,031 feet NT855153 55°25’50"N, 2°13’45"W
Cushat Law 2,018 feet NT927137 55°25’0"N, 2°6’50"W
Bloodybush Edge 2,001 feet NT903144 55°25’20"N, 2°9’10"W
SchilThe Schil 1,972 feet NT869223 55°29’45"N, 2°12’30"W
Catcleuch Shinpeak SSW of Catcleuch Shin 1,900 feet NT682052 55°20’20"N, 2°30’0"W
Dunmoor Hill 1,867 feet NT967187 55°27’30"N, 2°3’-0"W
CurrThe Curr 1,850 feet NT850233 55°30’15"N, 2°14’10"W
Wholhope Hill 1,847 feet NT941117 55°23’50"N, 2°5’40"W
Beefstand Hill 1,844 feet NT821143 55°25’20"N, 2°16’55"W
Thirl Moor Nuvola apps important.svg 1,831 feet NT806083 55°22’10"N, 2°18’20"W
Mozie Law 1,811 feet NT828150 55°25’45"N, 2°16’10"W
Carlin Tooth 1,808 feet NT631024 55°18’55"N, 2°34’50"W
Limestone Knowe 1,808 feet NT672018 55°18’30"N, 2°31’0"W
Hartshorn Pike 1,801 feet NT627017 55°18’30"N, 2°35’10"W
Black Hag 1,801 feet NT861237 55°30’25"N, 2°13’5"W
Scald Hill 1,801 feet NT927218 55°29’20"N, 2°7’0"W
Carter Fell 1,795 feet NT672035 55°19’25"N, 2°31’0"W
Yarnspath Law 1,781 feet NT884133 55°24’45"N, 2°10’60"W
Newton Tors: summit 1,762 feet NT908269 55°32’10"N, 2°8’38"W
Girdle Fellpeak at Girdle Fell near White Crags 1,759 feet NT697017 55°18’35"N, 2°28’40"W
King's Seat 1,742 feet NT879173 55°27’0"N, 2°11’30"W
Schill Moor 1,732 feet NT944153 55°25’50"N, 2°5’15"W
Saughieside Hill, Black Hagpeak between Saughieside Hill and Black Hag 1,732 feet NT868241 55°30’30"N, 2°12’35"W
Ravens Knowe 1,729 feet NT780062 55°21’0"N, 2°20’45"W
Harden Edge Nuvola apps important.svg 1,729 feet NT786073 55°21’30"N, 2°20’20"W
Preston Hill 1,726 feet NT923238 55°30’25"N, 2°7’20"W
Scrathy Holes 1,709 feet NT638031 55°19’15"N, 2°34’10"W
Newton Tors: Wester Tor 1,699 feet NT907273 55°32’50"N, 2°8’40"W
Newton Tors: Hare Law 1,699 feet NT902265 55°31’50"N, 2°9’-0"W
Broadhope Hill 1,696 feet NT933234 55°30’15"N, 2°6’20"W
Grey Mares Knowe 1,693 feet NT666003 55°17’40"N, 2°31’30"W
Ogre Hill 1,693 feet NT777069 55°21’20"N, 2°21’10"W
Lamb Hill 1,677 feet NT811133 55°24’45"N, 2°18’-0"W
Outer Golden Pot Nuvola apps important.svg 1,657 feet NT802072 55°21’30"N, 2°18’45"W
Shillhope Law 1,644 feet NT873097 55°22’50"N, 2°12’0"W


Hen Hole, Cairn Hill

The centre of the range comprises a Devonian granite outcrop surrounded by Silurian and Devonian andesite lava flows on each side. These are in turn intruded by igneous dykes arranged radially around the Cheviot pluton. The surrounding lower ground is formed from Carboniferous Limestone though much of it is obscured by superficial deposist of Quaternary age.

The Cheviots are associated with Devonian volcanics.[1] They are arc andesites and basalts and chemistry predominantly calc-alkaline. The formation of the hills was as a result of the Avalonia - Laurentia collision during the Ordovician which subducted the Avalonian crust underneath the Laurentian plate. This created some of the large caledonian igneous provinces throughout the Highlands.


Most of the Northumberland part of the range is mapped as 'open country' and hence there is a general right to roam over it as prescribed in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Roxburghshire enjoys the traditional rights of access of Scottish law. In addition, a sparse network of public bridleways and footpaths stretches around the area, often providing useful means of access from the lower ground onto the open hills.

The northernmost leg of the Pennine Way runs from Byrness to Kirk Yetholm. It is the longest, and most exposed, on the whole of the national trail. The Way follows the high level Border Ridge (where a fence follows the county boundary on the bleak fell height) for nearly 20 miles after the ascent to the ridge from Byrness. The terrain is boggy and remote, and two mountain refuge huts are situated on the Way for those too tired or weather-beaten to continue.

Otterburn Army Training Estate

The Otterburn Army Training Estate (ATE) covers about 90 square miles of the Southern Cheviots. It is owned by the Ministry of Defence, and used for training some 30,000 soldiers a year. Otterburn is the UK's largest firing range, and is in frequent use — artillery can be clearly heard from Lindisfarne to the northeast and Fontburn Reservoir in the south.

Because of this, recreational use of the area is restricted, although it is possible for the public to use some parts of the estate subject to the relevant bylaws. The MoD publishes a booklet, Walks on Ministry of Defence Lands, which offers advice on this matter (see link below).

Outside links