Some days, the need to get outdoors is a just matter of obligation to walk my exercise-obsessed hound.
Sometimes it’s a desire for a scenery change or because the weather’s great.
Other times it’s because I’ve had a bloody tough week and if I don’t get out of the house I might destroy it, and myself, in a bizarre lounge-cleaning accident!
That’s when I need to connect to the wild. To feel the wind in my hair, the sun on my face or rain on my skin, my feet on hard earth. To drench myself in nature’s elements and allow the wild spaces to heal my heart. Sometimes it’s the only thing that will do.
Whatever the reason, a family walk in nature never fails to help and heal.
Today was the latter, a Saturday in June after a stressful week and a multi-day migraine. I was craving open space, wild energy and a deep, distant mountain view. Photos of a local walk to a waterfall had caught my social media eye so, armed with an OS map, I dragged my wild family to the hills for a long, adventurous walk to a waterfall.
Unfortunately, Wild Daddy furthered my stress by navigating to the wrong place (which transpired to be a happy accident as we discovered a second, stunning waterfall but at the time my stress levels exhibited zero tolerance for this ‘heinous’ error!)
Roughting Linn Waterfall, Northumberland
Wild Daddy is, by nature, rather a ‘by the book’ sort of soul. Wild Mummy, given my wild nature, is almost always not; a fact which created further friction on encountering a ‘gap’ where the path marked on the map disappeared on the ground. I simply marched on whilst Wild Daddy wanted to contact the land owners for permission. Not the blissful, restorative walk I’d anticipated.
Nature simply steamrolled our emotions, diminishing all tension and negativity. What stress can hold out against the sensory bombardment of a truly wild space?
We tramped up hills, across fields, past timid sheep and boisterous cows, through thigh-high undergrowth until, down a steep, overgrown bank we heard the water. Saw the pool below it. Felt the stillness of the moment, nature’s breath held as she contemplated our intrusion. And then? Perfect, duplicitous peace; we were permitted an encounter and we soaked up every languid second of the privilege. We were healed and returned home a family renewed.
Routin Lynn Waterfall, Northumberland
Spot the name difference? No wonder Wild Daddy confused the locations.
The following week we made it to our original destination, another exceptionally beautiful wild place where my soul soared and all earthly tensions once again dissolved.
On this occasion Caroline brought a friend who doesn’t do as much wild as we do and the girls were ecstatic – fuelling each other’s excitement, Caroline helping her friend to climb trees, instilling her with confidence to balance on a log across a stream and encouraging her down the extremely steep bank we choose to access the water. A perfect example of why children love being in the wild.
Prehistoric rock art and cup holes
There are Iron Age ring marks and cup holes in an outcrop of rock near the waterfall which we also investigated, the girls tearing up and down the ditches of the hillfort through deep undergrowth and boggy ground.
Time ran away with us and the journey home involved a late-night detour to a chip shop to restore the blood sugar balance of two very tired but contented kids of the wild.
Why do waterfalls captivate us so readily? It’s thought they create negative ions in the air which make us feel good – happy air!! The same goes for crashing waves, mountains, forests and beaches after a storm. Ions or not, our souls yearn for the contentment found where air and water unite. If we heed that yearning we may be responding to one of nature’s secret wild tools for healing ourselves and the planet.
Both waterfalls are close to ancient sites with cup holes and rock art – Roughting Linn is a good mile from its cup holes which we didn’t get to on our visit, choosing to avoid a field of agitated cows and calves. There is a gap on the map where the path is non-existent but having now walked it, it is clear that the land owners are happy for people to walk the couple of hundred yards along an essentially private track. Routin Lynn’s rock art is much closer to the waterfall, just across the farm track from the burn. All landmarks, waterfalls and ancient sites, are marked on the map.
OS Map Grid References
To clarify, as there is much confusion regarding this online: –
OS Explorer Map (340) Holy Island and Bamburgh grid ref NT 083283 (lat/long 55° 32’ 52”N 001° 52’ 16”W).
OS Explorer Map (339) Kelso, Coldstream and Lower Tweed Valley grid ref NT 982368 (lat/long 55° 37’ 27”N, 002° 01’ 48”W).
Need more inspiration?
For more things to do near water read Kids of the Wild’s Rivers and Lakes section
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40 Northumberland walks
OS Explore map 340 – Holy Island, Bamburgh
OS Explorer Map 339 – Kelso, Coldstream, Lower Tweed Valley