West Hill Access
West Hill is private land owned by Westnewton 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 West Hill 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.
The path on the diagram is the suggested route up and around West Hill. The yellow line starts on the road in between the Kirknewton village hall, a modern timber building, and St. Gregory’s church. There is a signpost here marked ‘West Hill’. If the village hall is open you may borrow a little card with this route marked on and a detour up to St. Gregory’s hill too for those feeling slightly more energetic.
Follow the green and white Hillfort Heritage markers. The path winds through the steadings of Kirknweton but is easy to follow. As you clear the first stand of trees on leaving the village you will pass a small stone building on the north of the path. This was once a smithy. There is a gate to go through just after the smithy. The track to the north is a private route to West Kirknewton farm.
Continue on and you will note, at a gate on your left, the place where the trail will bring you to when you descend the hill, again marked. Of course, it is possible to turn off here and use the reverse track as a shortcut to the hillfort. The ascent is steeper this way though and you get to miss a well thought out route.
So continue on past the ruined shepherd’s cottage, now used as a feed store, where you are bound to look through the windows..! Nice bath…
Not far past the cottage, you will go through a gate and then the path bends south as it starts to go around West Hill. The woods you see on the north are more recent managed plantations but as you begin to see the gorse, which is post-medieval, on your left then the broadleaf trees which lie between the path and the College burn are somewhat more ancient woodland.
Any reference you may find on your Ordnance Survey maps to finding footbridges over the College burn here are not to be relied upon!
Tread quietly here if you are interested in wildlife as this is a good spot to see (among other things) deer, foxes and many species of birds including buzzards and a ghostly barn own at dusk.
Another gate and the path bends around the south side of West Hill. The views, initially toward Newton Tors, open up and you can eventually see from Yeavering Bell all the way down the valley.
A stile on the south of the hill takes you over a wall and past another ruined cottage. Beyond the scope of this website; this ruin is worth investigating. However, we press on. Look for the stile over the next wall. The ground is boggy here.
After the stile bear left and head for the summit now. There is an electric stock fence between you and the hillfort but there is a stile.
And then, panting, you arrive near to the Romano-British enclosure.
The view from the top is rewarding. Interesting to see how many other Iron Age settlements are visible.
The northerly tilt to the structures on West Hill makes more sense when you do get to the top. If you look north, to where the tilt makes the most impact visually, you will find the cottages of the Westnewton estate. But beyond them is the road.
The road follows the route of an ancient track. The visual impact of the hillfort on West Hill, in my view, was designed to impress anyone heading into the area using this track.