Issac’s Tea Trail is easy to navigate – it’s marked on the Ordnance Survey Explorer maps OL31 and OL43 and Landranger map 87, its waymarkers are a distinctive portrait of Isaac Holden within a green circle, and there’s a guide book written by the route’s creator Roger Morris (‘A guide to Isaac’s Tea Trail, Hidden Heritage in England’s North Country’).

But maybe a guide to this blog would be helpful as well. It was launched in October 2015 and new posts are added fairly randomly according to when I’m free to go for a walk, how much time I have, what mood I’m in, whether I and friends can use two cars to enable a linear rather than circular walk, whether a bus service can serve the same purpose, what the weather’s like, what seasonal wonders might be on show and other reasons related to the vagaries of nature, the countryside and life.

Such haphazard blog postings aren’t very useful if you’re using this blog to plan a walk on or near the Tea Trail, so here is a sort of index:


Isaac’s Tea Trail is a 37-mile circuit within the North Pennines AONB, linking Allendale, Nenthead, Alston, and Ninebanks. It crosses high moorland and dips into the valleys of the rivers East Allen, Nent, South Tyne and the West Allen. The route was inspired by a Victorian grocer, Isaac Holden, who used to walk for miles in this area delivering tea to remote farms and hamlets while raising funds for community projects.

You can start and finish Isaac’s Tea Trail at any point, and can walk it clockwise or anti-clockwise. Most people start in Allendale and follow the clockwise circuit which is covered consecutively in the blog by the following posts:

  • Allendale to the Black Way, June 22 2016
  • The Black Way to Coalcleugh, February 17 2016
  • Coalcleugh to Nenthead, March 8 2016
  • Nenthead to Alston April 2, 2016
  • Alston to Kirkhaugh April 19, 2016 (WARNING: The footbridge across the River South Tyne at Kirkhaugh was wrecked during flooding. The nearest bridges are at Slaggyford to the north or Alston to the south. Plan your walk with the South Tynedale Railway timetable in hand and you could at least ride a train to either Slaggyford or Alston)
  • Kirkhaugh to Clargillhead May 26, 2016
  • Clargillhead to Ninebanks November 30, 2015
  • Ninebanks to Gatehouse February 11, 2016
  • Gatehouse to Keenley Chapel October 27, 2015
  • Keenley Chapel to Allendale October 21, 2015

The remaining blog posts either revisit the above sections or they are circular walks that include part of Isaac’s Tea Trail. Others don’t actually get onto the Tea Trail but are nearby. An index to these will be added to this introductory page soon.


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