Isaac's Tea Trail is a loop around the wild North Pennines, one of the remotest places in England, inspired by the route hiked by an intrepid Victorian tea salesman.
This challenging 37-mile (60-km) circuit starts and finishes in Allendale Town. The trail follows the River East Allen, rises onto the rugged expanse of Carrshield Moor, passes through Nenthead and follows the River Nent to Alston. You then pick-up the River South Tyne, climb over Ouston Fell to Ninebanks and loop back to Allendale.
The scenery you encounter is one of wild moors, windswept fells, and rugged upland farmland interspersed with crumbling relics from a bygone industrial age, farmsteads, and sleepy villages. As far back as Roman times people have mined this landscape. In the 1700s and 1800s, though, the area was booming with silver, lead, and zinc mines, and led the way in technological innovation.
The trail begins from Isaac’s Well, which was opened thanks to tea seller and philanthropist Isaac Holden, to whom this trail is dedicated. Isaac would regularly hike the wild and lonely tracks on this route in Victorian times, delivering tea to remote farms and villages.
Isaac's Tea Trail is waymarked throughout. Some of the paths can be tough at times and the terrain is often challenging. You need a good level of fitness to tackle this route. As the circuit explores some remote countryside, it is essential that you carry enough food and water, have suitable gear and clothing for the conditions, and carry maps, a compass, first aid kit, mobile device, chargers, and so on.
In this Collection, we split the route into three stages, two roughly 12 miles (19 km) and the final one being nearly 17 miles (27 km). As the area is so remote, accommodation is not always abundant, including campsites. Dividing the trail into smaller sections, especially with equal distance, is tricky. It can be achieved with some additional forward-planning, though.
To get to Allendale Town, you catch a train to Newcastle-upon-Tyne or Carlisle (depending where you are travelling from) and then transfer onto another service to Hexham. From there, you need the 688 bus to Allendale.
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Last updated: November 12, 2021
The first stage of Isaac's Tea Trail explores pastoral countryside that was the industrial heart of lead and silver mining in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The trail begins from Isaac’s Well, in Allendale, which opened in 1849 to supply fresh water to the town. Travelling tea seller and local philanthropist…
by Dan Hobson
Expect crumbling relics from a bygone industrial age set against moody moorland landscapes on this stage.
From Nenthead, this route takes a short detour to see the lead and zinc mines, which give an incredible insight into the area’s industrial past.
The trail then follows the River Nent as it descends…
by Dan Hobson
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The final stage takes you on a wild and windswept adventure over lonely moors and rugged pastures that are synonymous with the North Pennines.
With 16.9 miles (27.2 km) of distance and 1,800 feet (549 m) of uphill, this is a challenging hike. Due to how remote the landscape is, splitting this stage is…
by Dan Hobson
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