The Coquet Valley is one of my favourite walking area’s of Northumberland.  There are so many in the area whether you head over to Simonside, further into the Cheviots, towards Kielder or even just the lowlands around Rothbury.  Stunning countryside but this was taking in the Coquet and initially starting at Harbottle.

Such is the importance of Harbottle it boasts not one, but two castles. The old castle was built by order of King Henry II soon after 1157

The current Harbottle Castle is a stately affair, being split into three private dwellings. History records Harbottle in the early 13th century as ‘Hirbottle’ ‘Here-botl’ or ‘Herbottle’, depending on which tongue you speak in! roughly translates to ‘station of the army’.  Harbottle is situated in the most beautiful part of the valley protected by the mighty Drakestone (see below) where you can experience breathtaking views to the Cheviot Hills. The walking is superb, you can still walk all day and hardly see a soul. Perfect!

I ventured on this walk with David Taylor and if you don’t know his work I’d recommend you visit I’ve learned more on a few days out with David than I have reading a multitude of books (mind, he also writes photography books!).

You can also find out more about Harbottle and the Coquet Valley at

Anyway, to the pictures.  We started off at the Castle and the views here are of the castle and at the castle looking down on to the village.  From here we head up to the Drakestone and then further along the Coquet Valley.  As we come back around through Otterburn ranges we took advantage of the view towards the Cheviots (Cheviot itself being on the left at the back) and getting down low with the Cotton Grass.  Oh, and do excuse the Top-Gear like imagery…

This next image was being framed by the trees.  A slightly longer shutter was to give movement to the branches etc.  Dont think I quite pulled this one off.

The Drake Stone.  Assume it is there as a result of a glacier.  Just not keen on the harsh shadow that crept in the bottom that hits the base of the stone.

Ok sorry, more of a snap shot but thought I’d leave it in!

While it’s easy to criticise your own work, I was happy with this what was likely my best shot of the day, also one of the last.  I like it’s warmth.  That which changed my mind about making this one b&w.

This last image was the only one taken with flash.  A very tricky shot as it was windy and the light was quickly going.  Needed a fast shutter to freeze the cotton grass in the wind but of course the fast shutter prevents light (that we needed).  The aperture was as wide as it could be (f/5.6) and still couldnt get enough light.  So, on went the flash.  Took a few shots while re-tweaking the aperture and shutter and this was the best one.