Walk in the footsteps of the legendary tea seller and fund raiser Isaac Holden, discovering glorious dales and crossing wild moors with stunning views across the North Pennines.
The 36-mile circular trail starts in Allendale at Isaac’s Well and goes over to Nenthead and Alston and returns via Ninebanks Youth Hostel. The route is way marked and has distinctive Isaac signs.
Itinerant tea seller
Isaac’s Tea Trail is named after and inspired by an itinerant tea seller and fund raiser called Isaac Holden. Isaac’s career began as a lead miner; when his health deteriorated and earnings from the mines fell, he was forced to find another livelihood. In the dramatic ups and downs of Victorian life, his Scottish born cousin (another Isaac), invented and developed looms for the woollen industry. The company of Isaac Holden and Sons, amassed a fortune with factories in Bradford able to process the wool from 8 million sheep as well as further production from St. Denis in Paris and Roubaix in North East France.
Four main sections
The trail is divided into 4 main sections. These can be flexible to fit your own timetable, fitness and according to the terrain, weather and the time of the year. Allow between 2-4 days or whatever feels comfortable:
- Allendale to Nenthead (11 miles) (1575 ft ascent) – Follows the East Allen valley upstream across denes and by a riverside, before gently climbing the Black Way to the high heather moors and down a rough moorland track to Nenthead
- Nenthead to Alston (5.5 miles) (525 ft ascent) – Alternates between the fell side and waterfalls as the river Nent cascades down to Alston
- Alston to Ninebanks (9.5 miles) (1214 ft ascent) – Follows the Pennine Way before crossing the River South Tyne near Kirkhaugh church, before climbing the valley of the Ayle Burn and up a moorland track into the West Allen
- Ninebanks to Allendale (9.5 miles) (984 ft ascent) – Crosses the watershed from the West Allen to the East Allen through a mixture of rough pasture, meadows and woodlands with a riverside walk into Allendale