How we look after the Valley

Policy Objectives

The objective is to run CVE with a long term perspective in a way which balances the interests of:
Local residents
Public access
while earning for the owner an acceptable income.

The facts

College Valley is situated in North Northumberland on the northern edge of the Cheviot Hills, an area of renowned beauty. The estate extends to some 12,000 acres and lies entirely within the Northumberland National Park (NNP).

The Valley is part of the legacy left by Sir James Knott, successful business man, politician and philanthropist.

The estate is now managed by a Board of Directors whose duty is to manage it in a way that increases its value as an environmental, social and economic place of excellence. They and our staff strive to encourage and make available to the general public an environment that focuses on education and recreational enjoyment. Farming and forestry underpin the estate’s financial viability, although the directors look carefully at other enterprises so long as they are in line with the objectives and aims of the College Valley.


College Valley is a haven for wildlife and vegetation, and contains the Cheviot Massif, the highest hill in North England at 2,672ft.

We manage the estate with C. V. E. in mind
C for Conservation
V for Visitors/Tourism
E for Education.

The Cheviot massif contains one of the largest Site of Special Scientific Interest in Northern England. We also have the Harrow bog which is the most significant semi-natural ancient woodland in the park area.
Most of the land is managed under DEFRA Stewardship agreements, with a view to protecting and enhancing bio-diversity.


We let out 4 holiday cottages and a  bunkhouse. Also for hire is Cuddystone Hall which is available for functions, such as weddings and birthday parties.
We welcome day visitors, but encourage them to leave their cars in the car park at Hethpool, and walk. We believe that the restrictions that we place on vehicle access make the Valley even more special for our visitors. We do sell a very limited number of day permits for cars which enable those who really wish to take their cars. These cost £10.

Horse riders are welcome and to a certain extent cyclists.


We have a close relationship with the universities of the region and they frequently send students to utilise the Valley for undergraduate and post graduate work. Recent topics of study have included vegetation, wildlife such as birds, goats and insects, cattle grazing and behaviour and archeology. The effects of our changing management of the most botanically sensitive parts of the valley are currently subject of a PhD.

Extra information

The Valley was purchased in 1953 by College Valley Estates Ltd the directors of the company, then Chaired by the 10th Duke of Northumberland, The Valley was purchased at auction for £75,000 (about £1.5million in today’s terms). The sellers were the executors of Sir Arthur Sutherland.

What the directors purchased was a 12,600 acre upland estate with 17 cottages and a mansion house. The estate mainly farmed sheep and cattle at the time, with a total of no more than 24 acres of woodland. The estate is approximately 10km long, it runs from the summit of Cheviot at 815m north wards to Hethpool and Elsdonburn. The Scottish border runs along most of the west side of the estate. You can also look due south into Scotland from the main valley, along which the college burn runs.

Between 1964 and 1973 the estate entered in to an ambitious forestation programme to plant 2000 acres of commercial coniferous woodland. The young trees were grown in a nursery here at Hethpool. After some 45 years, most of these woods are approaching maturity. Objectives change, and on felling many of these woods are being altered to more mixed species with the aim of improving our habitats and landscape.

We let 2 farms here within the valley, each of around 2,200 acres and rented to very experienced and skillful stockmen under Farm Business Tenancies.

The estate manages a further 5,500 acres of the most environementally sensitive ground directly. Here, we lightly summer graze the land with 300 hoggs (young female sheep) and 80 native breed catlle on the hill, with the aim of protecting and enhancing the rare and delicate plant communities.

We also have two small farms outside the valley one at Yeavering which consists of 198 acres of arable and permanent pasture land running beside the river Till, and one at Wooler which is 100 acres of mostly arable land.

Mounthooly Bunkhouse

The perfect stay for those tackling the Pennine way, family gatherings, charity parties or wedding accommodation.


With private roads and miles of Bridleway, the College Valley is an ideal haunt for all cyclists.