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July’s walk of the month: the Happy Valley circular

Cool riverside vibes, Northumberland countryside for days and the chance to discover a lost medieval village… Happy Valley has it all.

Written by High Life North
Published 29.06.2022

Distance: 8.5km (5.3 miles)

Elevation: 188m

Time: 2 – 3 hours



The trailhead for the Happy Valley circular walk can be found at a roadside layby just 1.4km (0.8 miles) southwest of Middleton Hall.


Riverside strolls, sheltered Northumberland countryside and the chance to discover a ‘lost’ medieval village… the Happy Valley circular is the perfect combination between a fresh air frolic and a journey back through time.

You’ll explore the beautiful landscape along this charming valley until you stumble upon the abandoned Middleton Old Town (we never knew it existed, either), before looping around to follow along the banks of Coldgate Water.

First documented in 1242, Middleton Old Town (originally named Midilest Middleton) is an abandoned medieval village in Northumberland. A few documents shed some light on the deserted village situated near Happy Valley and Coldgate Water, which note that by 1580 there were eleven tenants at the site. It’s likely that the settlement was relocated towards the end of the 18th century.

Even though the route can be challenging at times, Happy Valley provides the chance to enjoy an epic adventure through the Northumberland countryside that will give you stunning vistas and historical discoveries. Be aware, however, that some parts of the trail are overgrown and there are some poorly marked sections of the route, which together may make travel difficult at times.

Our advice? Wear proper walking boots (always) and bring your GPS or a trail map with you, just in case. Oh, and keep any dogs on their leads as you will almost definitely encounter livestock along the way.


Setting out from the roadside layby, head to the southwest along the road and cross over the bridge, picking up the footpath on your left in order to cross over Harthope Burn. From here, head east and keep left along the trail, passing through the lightly wooded terrain along the lower slopes of Brands Hill as you roughly follow the banks of Coldgate Water.

Eventually, you will make your way past the abandoned village of Middleton Old Town, where you will find the stone cottages and outbuildings of a settlement that dates back to the medieval period. From here, continue along the undulating terrain to the southeast until you arrive in South Middleton. At the road, head left and follow it towards the end of the hamlet, where you will branch off to the left in order to traverse the open fields to the northeast, eventually meeting up with another country road.

Heading left here, make your way to the north along the road and follow it through North Middleton to eventually arrive at Coldgate Mill. Just before the bridge, you will pick up a footpath on the left and follow it across Coldgate Water to arrive at a junction. Turning left here, make your way along the winding banks of Coldgate Water, taking some time to appreciate the peaceful setting as you make your way back into the trailhead where you began your day on the Happy Valley circular walk.


For more information about the Happy Valley circular walk, or for more hiking inspo across Northumberland, visit the 10 Adventures website.

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