The drake stone


Just love the name of this great big old rock sat up on the hillside overlooking Harbottle in Northumberland National Park - it's like a name straight out of a favourite childhood film, Labyrinth - and there's no shortage of 'bogs of eternal stench' up there too, although, while boggy, they're not really that stinky.


Anyhow, for great walks, beautiful countryside, fabulous views, interesting rock features and a gorgeous mix of Rowan, Silver Birch and Pine trees, along with a carpet of heather, bilberries and bracken, this place is absolutely worth a good explore. It's also a nature reserve and there are deer here, red squirrels in the woods nearby (saw two playing chase-me in the trees over at nearby Holystone just the other day!), lizards and dragonflies (which love the standing ponds dotted about the heath) and no doubt lots of other creatures too. And there's an excellent pub in Harbottle, The Star Inn, which has a pizza oven and an outdoor seating area in a courtyard that's a sun trap on good weather day - and they also sell home made cake to eat in or take away. For those who enjoy human history, Harbottle is one of the over 70 locations in Northumberland that is the site of a castle - Harbottle Castle ruins overlook the village and are clearly visible from The Drake Stone.


Northumberland National Park has detailed an excellent walk here on their website here https://www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk/walk/the-drake-stone-harbottle-walk/ . It's a lovely five mile circular walk that takes in Harbottle and The Drake Stone and they describe it as moderate as the paths up to and down from The Drake Stone are uneven and can be boggy in places. Or, you can just park in the Forestry Commission car park on the outskirts of Harbottle and walk straight up to The Drake Stone, which is probably about half a mile walk if that, but the path is steep, uneven and boggy in places.


While the views here are spectacular and the Drake Stone is impressive, from a photography perspective, the features I particularly love here are the combination of heather, braken and beautiful trees, particularly in late summer when the heather is in flower, and in autumn when the trees are just gorgeous. I am sure this place is spectacular in winter conditions too, if the roads are accessible.