Walk the footsteps of the soldiers who fought on the Flodden Battle field almost 500 years ago.
Today, in the quiet fields and rolling hills around the small village of Branxton it is difficult to believe that 500 years ago this was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles ever to take place in the British Isles. Soldiers came from all parts of Scotland and England to line up in two great armies facing each other across the shallow valley just to the south of Branxton. It was here that a great artillery duel opened the last medieval battle, where men fought hand to hand and 14,000 died within the space of a few hours - a rate of slaughter that compares with some of the worst days of the Battle of the Somme in the First World War.
It was here too that a King, James IV of Scotland, became the last monarch to die in battle in the British Isles and the course of history of two nations was changed.
The Flodden Battlefield Trail, an award-winning trail created and maintained by the Remembering Flodden Project (a registered charity) covers the ground where the two armies met in combat and detailed interpretation boards assist the visitor in visualising the events of the 9th September 1513. The boards describe the manoeuvers and tactics of the Battle and provide illustrations of the weapons and armour of the times. They explain the importance of the topography and ground conditions and how the tide of battle ebbed and flowed for the two opposing armies.
The local church, St Paul’s at Branxton, is also well worth visiting to see the records and notes taken from the battle. Large scale burial pits were dug in the vicinity.
Perhaps the last word should go to an 8 year old visitor who had a great time when she visited the battlefield. “I visited the site with my mum and dad today and really, really enjoyed it...I liked the picture boards all the way round. I could imagine the mud and the noise when the battle happened. I like to imagine what ancient things are buried deep in the ground!!!”
Free and open access to the battlefield site throughout the year. Flodden Battlefield is the core site of the Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum, established to commemorate the quincentenary of the battle in 2013.
Come to fish the River Till on the beautiful Ford & Etal Estates waters in rural North Northumberland.
The River Till is England’s only tributary of the mighty River Tweed; as such it is governed by River Tweed fishing regulations. It is particularly well-known for its run of sea-trout from the spring to summer month but grilse and salmon are also regularly taken, as are grayling during winter months.
Night fishing is available during the summer months amidst this beautiful section of the river, in parts graded a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Under Tweed Rules you are allowed to fish fly, worm or spinner. Fly rods should be about 11 feet and generally single handed will suffice. Floating lines are best for summer, sometimes with a sink-tip. Spring and Autumn, sinking lines are useful.
In most instances wading is either not necessary or not possible, though in the summer months it may be useful when night fishing. Maps are provided and advice and even flies/lures are offered to visiting anglers.
Occasionally canoeists may be encountered - they have a right of passage and we would ask that fishermen afford them every courtesty.
Fishing permits for the Ford Beat can be urchased from Ford Post Office, The Estate Office or The Northern Trader in Milfield. Bookings and payments can also be made through Fishpal or by telephone on 01573 470612 (office hours only, Mon-Fri 9am-5pm).
The image below is a sample of the maps that are available:
There are four main beats:
Redscar: This beat lies in the Milfield plain south of Redscar Bridge near Milfield Village and is a very easy beat to fish, with good access and level walks on the river bank. It runs to 1.5 miles with 15 named pools which are long and deep (4 to 8 feet) but are not fast running, comprising of glides.
Upper Tindal: The Upper Tindal beat runs downstream of Etal Village with over 1.5 miles and 16 pools and is where the nature of the Till changes, becoming much faster-flowing over rock with white water streams into deep pools, creating ideal fly water. This stretch is fished from the left bank with limited access to the heavily-wooded right bank. A single handed fly rod will cover the pools. The beat is let day or night from May to August during the main Seatrout run.
Lower Tindal: Lower Tindal runs for 2 miles and is a very attractive length of water set in a wooded gorge with numerous white water streams over rock into deep long pools. The left bank is all woodland and kept quiet as a conservation area. This is a beat for the able-bodied but well worth the effort.
Ford: This beat lies near Ford Village and runs for over 1 mile upstream of Ford Bridge. Fishing is allowed from both banks where woodland areas permit. There are several streams near the bottom of the beat, further upstream the pools are long and flow at a slower pace. 12 pools make up the beat, some of these pools stretch for 200-300 yards.
Set in a hollow at the top of the hill to the east of Ford village, with stunning views over the Till Valley and the Cheviots, Ford Moss is an area of wild landscape, exciting flora and fauna, and historical remains of an abandoned mining community.
Ford Moss extends to over 60 hectares (150 acres). It is an area of bog and scrub known as a lowland raised mire. A deep layer of peat, formed by rotting vegetation over many thousands of years, overlies the carboniferous limestone bedrock. Seams of coal were mined on the site from the late 18th to the early 20th century. Ford Moss has become increasingly more dry over the last 250 years mainly through human activity (mining, afforestation and associated drainage).
The bog plant communities in this area include the aromatic Bog Myrtle, while the adjacent woodland contains mature Scots Pine and Oak trees. The Moss is also of interest for its wildlife, the site being home to common lizards and occasional adders as well as birds such as red grouse, woodcock and snipe. Buzzards and kestrels are also often seen above the reserve.
Because of its special characteristics, Ford Moss was notified in 1968 as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and further classified by the European Union as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in 2000. Ford & Etal Estates work closely with Natural England and the National Wildlife Trust to promote positive management of the reserve. The aim is to maintain the conservation interest, principally by reducing the amount of water run-off through a series of small dams on the bog surface. This has retained the mire community.
Ford Moss is dangerous to walk on. Its boggy surface is very soft and treacherous. However, a circular path of 2 miles allows visitors to walk right around the area and gives excellent views of the surrounding countryside as well as the Moss itself.
Park on the road side by the main entrance gate and please wear appropriate clothes and footwear. A seasonal toilet is located 300m further along the tarmac road behind the small stone building.
The archaeological remains of the former colliery at Ford Moss are an iconic feature of the landscape. Known to have been active from the 17th century, the coal mine largely operated along the northern and western edges of Ford Moss, where the ruin of an old engine house and a large brick chimney are the most obvious features.
The mine closed in 1918, but several of the miners who lived and worked at Ford Moss colliery in the late 19th century were depicted by Louisa Lady Waterford in her famous paintings on the walls of the school which she built in Ford.
A project to record the important social heritage of Ford Moss colliery is currently under way, in connection with the Lady Waterford Hall.
Active4seasons has been running guided trips and training in the area for the last 17 years and has fully qualified and insured instructors to make sure you are safe and have fun. Open canoe trips on the River Till or Tweed, rock climbing on the local sandstone crags, sea kayaking along the fantastic Northumberland/Berwickshire coast – book early to avoid disappointment.
Made to measure adventures can also be booked if you want something for your own family or group of friends. From beginners to experts, there is something to suit you!
Pre-booking essential - phone evenings between 6 & 7 pm or e-mail anytime.
High quality horses and ponies suitable for all ages and levels of expertise are available.
Hack out along quiet country lanes, across moorland, through grass fields and woodlands, or take an excursion to the beach and hills.
All the family can enjoy the experience of riding together. Booking is advisable but the visitor is welcome to come along and see the horses and ponies. The Riding Centre is situated on a farm one mile from Ford Village.
There is also a comfortable three bedroom self catering cottage for family holidays.
There’s nothing better than a walk with your dog in the countryside and at Ford & Etal Estates we welcome dogs and their owners but ask that you are respectful of the area and of other people by following the simple advice below.
Ensure that your dog does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control. This means that you:
keep your dog on a lead, or
keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it's doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command
ensure it does not stray off the path or area where you have right of access.
We strongly recommend that in public areas you keep your dog on a lead at all times.
The access rights that normally apply to open country and registered common land (known as 'open access' land) require dogs to be kept on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July, to help protect ground nesting birds, and all year round near farm animals.
For your own safety and for the welfare of the animals your dog should be kept on a lead around horses and farm animals. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog's owner.
However, if cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead - don't risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Your dog will be much safer if you let it run away from a farm animal in these circumstances and so will you.
Everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and it can cause infections, so always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly. Please do not leave poo bags on footpaths - "bag it and bin it" in one of the bins in the villages. Poo bags are available free of charge from Heatherslaw Visitor Centre, Ford and Etal Village Shops, and at the start of the riverside walk at Etal.
Follow the Countryside Code - Respect Protect Enjoy
Respect other people
Consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors
Leave gates and property as you find them and follow paths unless wider access is available
Protectthe natural environment
Leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home
Located at the edge of the village of Milfield, the trail depicts life in the Cheviot Hills from the dawn of time showing man’s occupation through the ages.
A full-scale reproduction of a Stone Age wooden henge, an exact copy of one of the many wooden henges that stood on the landscape some 4300 years ago, is the focal point of this trail which comprises a short walk with information boards along the way. There is also a Dark Age hut which visitors can explore by collecting a key from nearby Cafe Maelmin (in Milfield village). A free information brochure is also available at the Cafe.
Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre is set to step back in time on 11th & 12th October with its "Looking Back" event. Visitors to this weekend event will be able to see Heavy Horses working in the field and view horse drawn machinery through to the first working tractors. Whilst children can visit the Clydesdales stabled within the barn parents can browse the selection of crafters, food producers and demonstrators located in the undercover market area. The organisers of the event have been very fortunate in locating a rare crafter who will be demonstrating the old art of corn dolly making. Also joining them for the weekend will be a very unusual sight - the only ploughing mule team in the country, who apparently are also highly skilled at escaping from stables!
In its day Hay Farm was an integral part of the estate as the standing steam engines for threshing were located here. In years gone by seventeen heavy horses worked the land and moved cereals down to Heatherslaw for milling. This event incorporates these two venues and visitors can take a short leisurely walk down past the working horses to Heatherslaw Cornmill and learn of its history - children can even become 'junior millers'! This is truly a family event and is sure to bring back memories for grandparents as well as giving younger family members an insight into rural life in years gone by. Daily admission charge to event only £2.50 adults/£1.00 children. Admission event plus Cornmill – Adults £5.00 Children £2.00. Both venues open 10am – 4pm, last admission to Mill 3.15pm.
The Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum is taking part in the 2014 Northumberland Residents Festival on 29th and 30th March with events at Heatherslaw Mill and the Crookham Peace Centre.
Also taking place the same weekend is the launch of the new Ecomuseum site, the Flodden Ridge: a circular walk around the ridge on which the Scots Army was encamped. The route, which offers spectacular views of the Tweed Valley and the Cheviots, will be publically accessible for the first time and during the course of the weekend free guided walks will be led by Flodden 1513 Archaeologist Dr Chris Burgess, HLF-funded Flodden Project Coordinator Alistair Bowden, Dr Chris Bowles, Scottish Borders Council archaeologist and local Flodden-author Noel Hodgson. For more information and to book a place please click here.