Great Hetha - Access
Great Hetha lies in the College Valley. There is a National Park car park at the hamlet of Hethpool. To drive further down the College Valley you will need a permit as only twelve cars per day are allowed down the valley. Permits can be obtained from Sale and Partners, an estate agent in Wooler, though there is now a charge. In lambing season no vehicular access to the valley is allowed but you may still walk or cycle. For a climb up to the hillfort on Great Hetha, though, the National Park car park is ideal and so no permit is required.
To get to Hethpool leave Wooler on the A697 and head towards Coldstream. On a bend in the road at Akeld take the B6351 signposted ‘Kirknewton’. Pass through Kirknewton and across a bridge and you will arrive at the cottages of the Westnewton estate. Turn left here where there is a road signposted ‘Hethpool.’ Follow the road through Hethpool, over the cattle grid and the car park is behind the trees.
Great Hetha is on private land owned by College Valley Estates. However, the owner has granted access to the hill and the hillfort on permissive paths. As part of the ‘Discovering our Hillfort Heritage’ project initiated by the Northumberland National Park. The routes around Great Hetha are clearly marked. Stiles have been erected over fences and walls. Please respect this ancient landscape and leave the stones as you find them. You will be walking through working farmland so please keep dogs on a lead at all times.
Leave the car park and head down the valley road. You will pass a neolithic stone circle in the grass to the right of the track. This is, in fact, the largest stone circle in Northumberland with a diameter of around 55m though the stones are not large. However, the circle has suffered from ploughing and some of the stones are missing. It is entirely possible to walk past the remaining stones and not realise they are a circle at all!
You will soon come to a stand of trees and near the far end of this plantation, you will see the first marker post for Great Hetha. Follow the path up the hill, initially with the trees to your right. At the end of the plantation, the path turns steeply uphill.
As you ascend you can see the smaller hillfort of Little Hetha to the north and, over to the west, is the striking silhouette of the hillfort known as Ring Chesters.
A longer walk around the hill on good paths, again well marked, leads to a slightly less steep ascent of the hill. In fact this way would have been the Iron Age path to the fort. From the car park walk back the way you drove in, past the cottages and follow the road around to the left. Keep on down the road until it bends right. Here you will see a track off to the left which is marked ‘Trowupburn’ and ‘Elsdonburn’. Follow this path. When the path splits near the stream you will need to follow the left-hand path marked ‘Trowupburn’. Eventually, you will see the sign marking the way up the hill.