Armstrong trail

Cragside, Rothbury, Morpeth, Northumberland NE65 7PX

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Tumbleton lake © National Trust

Tumbleton lake

The pump house at Cragside © Faye Morris

The pump house at Cragside

Take in the fantastic views from the Iron bridge © Faye Morris

Take in the fantastic views from the Iron bridge

The magnificent conifers in the pinetum, some of the largest in Europe © Faye Morris

The magnificent conifers in the pinetum, some of the largest in Europe

Route overview

A rough hike taking in the main features at Cragside including the house and iron bridge.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Armstrong trail OS map 2013
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Visitor Centre, grid ref: NU073022

  1. Begin at the Visitor Centre. When facing Tumbleton Lake take the estate drive right uphill. Continue uphill on the estate drive towards Tumbleton Cottage.

  2. A short distance after cottages turn left off the estate drive and onto a gravel track to follow the curve of the lakeside. Continue on this path and cross over the recently restored Debdon Bridge. A brilliant view point on the route, you can look back to where you started and admire the panoramic scene from a different perspective

    Show/HideTumbleton Lake

    When the Debdon Burn dam, created to form the lake, burst in 1946, the valley flooded and filled the Pump House with silt. When the dam was repaired, the stepped spillway was built. Now, when the lake is full, the floodwater runs safely over the spillway and into the burn.

    Tumbleton lake © National Trust
  3. Use the boardwalk to compete the lakeside circuit. The boardwalk was funded by Bovril through their Great Outdoor Revival project. Tumbleton boathouse appears on the left and there are two options to finish the walk. Option 1 is to complete the circular walk by finishing here and returning to the Visitor centre where you started. Option 2 is to continue the walk and finish at the power house. The terrain does get more challenging from here.

  4. Option 1. Finish your walk here and return to the Visitor Centre.

  5. Option 2. Continue and take a right onto the steps leading towards the pump house.

    Show/HideThe Pump House

    The pump sent spring water from the black tank on the roof of the building to the Basin Tank reservoir 60m above the house. The water then flowed by gravity into the house where it was used for drinking and to power the hydraulic lift and the spit in the kitchen.

    The pump house at Cragside © Faye Morris
  6. Follow the path that criss-crosses the Debdon stream. The spectacular iron bridge comes into view and Cragside house beyond.

    Take in the fantastic views from the Iron bridge © Faye Morris
  7. Continue forwards until you can see the flight of stone steps on the left hand side to gain access across the iron bridge.

  8. At the other end of the bridge take the winding set of steps underneath the bridge towards the Pinetum. Follow the pathway through the collection of conifers.


    The large Douglas fir trees are named after the plant hunter, David Douglas, who died aged only 35 whilst on an expedition in Hawaii. He fell into a pit dug by the islanders to trap wild cattle - and was gored to death by a wild bull that had also fallen into the pit. Lord Armstrong had a team of about 150 gardeners and estate workers who planted over 7 million trees and bushes at Cragside to create the huge woodland estate you see today.

    The magnificent conifers in the pinetum, some of the largest in Europe © Faye Morris
  9. The path forks after the wooden bridge. Turn right to continue through the Pinetum.

  10. At the end of the Pinetum, turn right to cross over the ivy bridge and continue along the path.

  11. Keep on this path for a while until you reach the waterwheel from Warton Farm appears in view. To the right the path continues to the power house.

  12. Explore the power house. The walk ends here, you can return the way you came or take a different route back following signs for the house.

End: Visitor Centre, grid ref: NU073022

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 2 miles (2.4km)
  • Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • OS Map: Landranger 81
  • Terrain:

    Walk along established footpaths – the initial circuit around Tumbleton Lake is flat and after this the walk is steep in places with steps, stout footwear recommended.

  • How to get here:

    By road: 13 miles south-west of Alnwick (B6341) and 15 miles north-west of Morpeth on Wooler road (A697), turn left on to B6341 at Moorhouse Crossroads, entrance 1 mile north of Rothbury.

    By bus: To nearby Rothbury, Arriva X14 bus from Newcastle Haymarket, Monday to Saturday. Arriva 508 special summer Sunday service. View timetables here:

    By cycle: View local cycle route on the National Cycle Network website.

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