Isaac's Tea Trail is a 36-mile walk in the North Pennines. Starting in Allendale, it passes through some of the most remote countryside in England. These are the moors and rivers where the counties of Northumberland, Durham and Cumbria meet - a landscape steeped in history and rich in industrial heritage.
Hexham Ramblers has had a long involvement with the path and retains, to this day, responsibility for maintaining a 12-mile section centred on Allendale that stretches from Ninebanks to Knock Shield. We also occasionally include parts of it in our Sunday walks.
Hexham Ramblers out on Isaac's Tea Trail
The trail follows in the footsteps of Isaac Holden, a travelling tea seller in the early 19th century when lead-mining activity was at its peak and travel on foot was often the only way tradesmen could conduct their business. Working out of a grocer's shop he owned in Allendale with his wife, Isaac followed his route in all weathers, selling tea to farms and outlying hamlets.
Isaac became known as a philanthropist, raising money for community projects such as the fresh-water supply to Isaac's Well in Allendale Town. This well marks the 'official' start of the trail.
On leaving Allendale, it heads first to Nenthead, a important lead-mining centre for over 100 years until 1882. It then follows the valley of the river Nent to Alston, one of the highest market towns in England. From there, the trail leads to the village of Ninebanks and back to Allendale.
The trail website has full details of the route and the places it passes through. It also includes news on footpath diversions affecting the trail, including the diversion to avoid Kirkhaugh Bridge near Slaggyford which was closed following storm damage in September 2018. Visit http://isaacs-tea-trail.co.uk
The website also now (January 2020) features details of accommodation providers on or near the trail.
Look out for the printed guide by Roger Morris, the man behind the creation of the trail, in local shops.
The local journalist, Anne Leuchars, publishes a fascinating blog about the trail - about a hundred entries in the last three years. It has readers in 53 countries and is well worth a look. https://walkingisaacsteatrail.wordpress.com/ Anne's entry on 12th April 2021 features our memorial to Mavis Harris, a much-missed Hexham Rambler who died in 2018 - read it here.
And yes, there really is a Dalek in this picture.
Clare Balding walked part of the trail for her Ramblings series on BBC Radio 4. The podcast is still available on the BBC website
Simon Armitage, the Poet Laureate, mentions the trail in his book, Walking Home - Travels with a Troubador on the Pennine Way.
Bernard Cornwell refers to it in the historical notes for War of the Wolf, a volume in his series, The Last Kingdom.
Mike Weston has written and recorded a song about Isaac Holden. See it on YouTube.
Rowantree Stob bastle near Sinderhope, south of Allendale
Another stunning view....
Sunday 5 December 2021Starting at 10:00A moderate 7.5 mile / 12.1 km walk
Sunday 12 December 2021Starting at 10:15A moderate 10 mile / 16.1 km walk
Sunday 12 December 2021Starting at 10:15A leisurely 7 mile / 11.3 km walk