Bothal is a hamlet in Northumberland, situated between Ashington and Morpeth. There are no shops, pubs, cafes, or facilities – just a church, a castle (not open to the public) and lots of prettyness.
Find it here on Streetmap. There is space to park a couple of cars outside the church.
Outside St Andrews Church is this amazing maple tree, which produces this bright red foilage in November, around the time of the Remembrance Day service; the war memorial itself becomes wrapped in the branches of the tree. For some reason, I find the colour red in general, and this tree in particular, the most difficult colour to represent accurately, whether on film or with a digital camera.
The churchyard itself is another good feature. Whilst it doesn’t have the exotic statuary of some churchyards, neither does it suffer from the regimented lines of some others. The graves are laid out in an attractive manner which creates interesting views from many points, providing some assistance to the photographer. In May the ground will be covered in wild garlic, and autumn is another highlight.
The lane outside the church leads behind the castle to the River Wansbeck. Crossing the river are some stepping stones and a footbridge – however there is no right of way over the footbridge. You can however look underneath for some strong lines:
The river itself is worth exploring but you need to walk away from the river to get to the best stretch. Return to the church / war memorial and turn left on the main road. You will see the castle on your left. I don’t find the castle particularly photogenic – although a dusting of snow on the fields in front might help. There’s a photo of it in my article on the Kodak 66 folder. After a few hundred yards, take a left turn where the road goes down hill and then taken a path to the right. You should now be at this point on Streetmap.
There’s a working timber yard to your right and this old mill building to your left:
About 50 yards further on you come to the weir; then it’s just a case of exploring for as long as you want. The footpath follows the river for 2-3 miles to the market town of Morpeth, which has a bus service back to Bothal.
I’ll finish with this scene which I think summarises the restrained attractiveness of the area: