The Environment Agency’s latest assessment of waterways revealed that four of the five cleanest rivers in the whole of Britain are in the Northumberland National Park – all having their source in the Cheviot Hills.
There is nothing more life affirming than a dip in one of these sparkling clean rivers on a hot summer’s day and we are perfectly located for such a memorable wild swim. Just up the road is the Upper Coquet river – featured in the 2008 book ‘Wild Swimming’ as one of the best places in Britain for bobbing down a series of perfect river pools.
The river runs alongside the tiny road towards Barrowburn. To drive there turn right out of Burnfoot, through Netherton and on to Alwinton. Continue through Alwinton on the road to Barrowburn / Blindburn and park at a picnic place beside the river about half a mile after the road crosses the river at Linbriggs farm (about 500 yards before the road re-crosses the river at Shillmoor). There are two pools here (the right hand has a shelving sandy edge, making the first run in slightly less traumatic) and you can bob downstream from here for about 300m finding deeper pools along the way. Park the car, strip off, jump in, and try not to swear!
The best beach for swimming would be Sugar Sands (see the ‘Beaches’ page) in our opinion, but remember this is the North Sea and the water isn’t too warm.
Outside the summer months, the nearest indoor pool is in Rothbury, a five to ten minute drive away (turn right at Rothbury Butchers, go over the bridge and follow the road up to the top of the steep bank – the pool is signposted right, just before you leave the village).