Beautiful and Unspoilt Alanham

By: Douglas Scott

Off the beaten track is an expression often used to describe the pretty little hamlet of Alnham, situated in the heart of the rugged Cheviot Hills in the Northumberland National Park.

Northumberland is a land of contrasts with spectacular scenery from rugged hills to stunning coastline, a rich historical legacy from Stone Age to the Industrial Revolution, and a wide selection of towns and villages to explore.

This is a place where the lover of nature and the countryside can feel truly at home. Or where those wishing to escape the stresses and demands of modern life can flee and discover that rarest of emotion, Peace.

It is hard to imagine that such a place was anything but peaceful. But look closely and you can see signs of Alnhams often turbulent past.

Located within the much contested border region between England and Scotland meant that this tiny parish often received attention from some very unwanted visitors.

The church of St Michael the Archangel, believed to date back to the 12th century, is thought to have been laid to waste by non other than William Wallace or better known as the Scottish Legend of Braveheart, during one of the daring raids into northern England led by the, Commander of the Army of the Kingdom of Scotland.

A fortified tower located next to the church and dating back to the 14th century is an example of the practical steps people took to safeguard their families and possessions.

Other less destructive, but perhaps equally romantic characters would have also passed through Alnham in times past. Crossing the hills nearby is The Old Salters Road, once a major route into Scotland for English merchants carrying salt north and for Scottish farmers bringing cattle to English markets.

The remoteness of the surrounding hills was also used to the advantage of illicit whisky distillers who provided a source of tax free spirits long before the airport duty free shop was even thought of, it is a shame this is no more, what a shame I say.

Its hard to quantify what spending even a little time in such a special place can bring. But you can be sure to take home with you a unique sense of perspective and a knowledge that no matter how crazy the modern world becomes, there still exists a place where you can truly, get away from it all and enjoy the true and unspoilt piece of the North of England which is Northumberland.

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