It had been years since we last visited Thunton Woods, and then it was on cross-country skis. Why we haven’t been back for so long is a bit of a mystery and it was certainly worth the trip. A bout of dog-sitting forced us to find a suitable spot to go for a walk and Sally’s 50 hill challenge directed us to a hill. Long Crag isn’t particularly high at 319m but it does have an amazing vantage point overlooking the coast to the east and the Cheviots to the west. This is one of the hills on a long line of sandstone crags sweeping down Northumberland and across to Simonside.
The hill is reached through conifer forest at the start opening out onto heather carpeted moorland with patches of crowberry and cowberry. A fresh and icy wind made us take shelter in the sandstone outcrops for lunch from where we dropped back to the valley of the Coe Burn, overlooked by the castle like rocks of Coe Crags. Here the buds of the small alder and willow were swelling, giving a hint of the spring ahead. We found a route back through the trees to our start point using what appeared to be an old track now partially lost in the covering conifers.