Irthing Gorge

Gilsland – Irthing Gorge

Location Gilsland

Grid Ref NY 635681



The Irthing Gorge starts with Crammel Linn waterfall, where the water has cut through the Scottish calciferous sandstone to give a 10m drop. The sides of the gorge are steep and covered initially with yew and later by ash and birch trees.


The best way to approach the gorge is by starting in Gilsland at Bath house, just past the Bridge Inn.


The pathway alongside the river bank takes you towards Irthing House Farm and from there onto a small road prior to a left turn into the driveway for Wardrew House. It is believed that this site has been occupied since for at least 700 years. There are records of Edward 1st visiting the site in 1306. Other notable visitors have included Robert Burns ( 1787) and Sir Walter Scott ( 1797).



From Wardrew House the pathway descends into the gorge and eventually, following the signs and negotiating some rather boggy ground you come to the ‘Popping Stone’. This is where Sir Walter Scott was believed to have proposed to his future wife, Miss Charpentier. The stone is actually one large and two smaller ones and there is some doubt about the authenticity of this claim.


Climbing up the side of the Gorge the pathway arrives at the back of the Gilsland Spa. Originally called the “Shaws” the first building was destroyed in a fire back in 1859. The current buildings have been both a convalescent home and a wartime maternity hospital. It is now a substantial and elegant hotel.


Carrying on down the road to Gilsland the church on the left hand side is an Episcopalian built in 1854. It was intended to cater for the wealthy visitors to the Spa as opposed to the local populace.


A track just past the church meanders down to the River Irthing where stepping stones help cross to the other side and return to Gilsland.



It is worth mentioning that the Gorge is a site of special scientific interest and the woodland has been classed as ancient and semi natural. Basically this means that it originated between 1750 and 1860. It has many varieties of native broadleaf trees and supports a wide range of wild life, typically deer, foxes and birds.


Words and pictures courtesy of Northumbria Byways – Quality Self Catering Holiday Cottages in Northumberland and the Borders

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