71. Lower Redesdale
Take the road out of Bellingham for Redesmouth. After about a mile or so it passes under an old rail bridge and a few yards later there's a track on the L. This is actually part of the Border County Ride (for horse riders) route and also the Reivers' Cycle (C2C) Route.
The gradient eases and the views open up. Keep an eye open for a gate at (864 833). Our route goes L through the gate to follow the Border County Ride as a vague track leads across the hillside. There may well be a direct route to Rawfoot but we followed the track, gradually improving, to turn L in front of a building at (868 843). This track takes you round to Rawfoot then up to the road. You could, of course, have taken a direct route from Bellingham but you'd miss out on the fun...
Turn R and follow to West Woodburn on an easy gradient. When you reach the main A68 turn L and, after just 25 metres turn R down a narrow lane. It leads round to the R aiming for Townhead. Don't go to Townhead but turn L at (896 872) then R after 600m to arrive at East Woodburn Bridge, a fine double arch structure built around 1795.
Cross the bridge and turn R to follow the track to a crossroads at (909 872). Go straight across, heading gently upwards to open views. The track turns L and aims for a gap in the skyline. In fact, we're following a bridleway now and it turns to the R at (930 872) to run alongside a wall. This is rough to start but turns into a vague grassy path - at least the gradient is on your side!
You'll reach the junction of two walls at (935 868). Some maps show this as the corner of a wood but it has since been clearcut. Signs for the bridleway take you through a gate with a stone dyke to your R. Don't follow that but look for a 'gate' (or gap) in the wall where a good track runs on the other side of it.
Shortly you'll reach a red dirt track. Turn R but only for a few yards, then go L, going generally E. Pass to the L of a conspicuous lake. Some maps show a bridlepath that crosses and recrosses this forest track - perhaps a track-laying vehicle could follow it, but this is now a clearcut wilderness and you have no choice but to follow the forest track. This, however, is no bad thing and the gradient is OK right up to the high point at 292m near a small quarry.
Head down now, round to the R to emerge at Summit Cottages. Go up the road and turn L. After one and a half miles go R, pass Sweethope Loughs, rising gently to reach the A68....again!
Go straight across, admire the extensive views, and enjoy the long roll down to Redesmouth and along the road back to Bellingham.
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