Redheugh Crag
Landscape Edlingham Northumberland

Redheugh Crag

Landscape In Edlingham, Northumberland

Sandstone crag, popular with climbers, on the hills near Edlingham with a hidden surprise.

On the moors near Edlingham Woods and Bigges Pillar is a big sandstone outcrop known as Redheugh Crag.

Redheugh Crag is an impressive set of rocks which have a good reputation for bouldering. It is exposed, sitting in the open, but the benefit of this are commanding views across to Edlingham, the Cheviot Hills and the surrounding Northumberland countryside.

Left: Redheugh Crag and Cheviot Hills in the distance / Right: The weathered sandstone twists in different shapes & sizes.

Those who make the walk to Redheugh Crag across rugged moorland terrain will not only be rewarded by the far reaching views and dramatic rocks but also a hidden surprise. An explore around Redheugh reveals a poem hidden in a small cave.

The poem is called Redheugh Crag but is also referred to as Ode to Guyzant Meg. It was written by Northumbrian poet J.P. Athey who during his lifetime installed poetry in different countryside areas of Northumberland, including poems at nearby Caller Crag, Rimside Moor Gibbet and Peter's Pillory. The poem at Redheugh Crag did disappear but was kindly restored by a local man called Ron Bailey in 2020, who also replaced the poem in the nearby Caller Crag. Sadly some of these public poems are now lost such as the one that used to be at Cateran Hole but thanks to the efforts of Ron, they are not all lost.

Left: The cave where Guyzant Meg purportedly resided / Right: The hidden surprise at Redheugh Crag

The poem at Redheugh Crag tells the story of a poor woman known as Guzyant Meg and records how locals were afraid she might be a witch. After deciding she was indeed a witch (at a kangaroo court) they set about to hang her and approached the cave in Redheugh Crag where she resided. Her cat saw the approaching mob and warned Meg. When the locals reached the cave Meg had gone. They searched around and could find no trace but noticed a young holly bush hanging over the cave entrance which had not been there previously. The natural conclusion was that Meg had turned herself into a tree! The poem records failed attempts to remove the tree and indeed the holly bush still hangs over the cave today. Guyzant Meg keeping watch over the crags still!

Although a great story, it appears to be just that a work of fiction! There was, however, a famous witch in Northumberland called Meg of Meldon who resided around 20 miles away from Redheugh Crag. Could she be an inspiration for Guzyant Meg?

Left: The holly bush still hangs over Redheugh Crag or is it Guzyant Meg? / Right: A gap between the sandstone leads to the front & bottom of Redheugh Crag.

J.P. Athey was known for writing poetry in a Northumbrian dialect, a recording of him performing a poem about the River Coquet is available via Caughtbytheriver and is well worth a listen to give a flavour of how his poetry is meant to be heard.

And in case you're wondering it is supposedly pronounced 'uff' or 'yuff' with heugh coming from the Northumbrian word for a rocky cliff or promontory (high point of land) that rises abruptly. The term is commonly used throughout Northumberland. It has been said that the most southerly heugh is the Heugh at Hartlepool Headland. The red will refer to the colour of the standstone so Redheugh Crag is literally Red Rocky Cliff! It is what it says on the tin!

It can be reached via access land from either Edlingham or the A697 via Edlingham Woods themselves. The route to Bigges Pillar can be taken with Redheugh Crag only a short distance away (albeit there is no defined path to it).

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How To Find Redheugh Crag

Where Is Redheugh Crag?

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Lat / Long

55.355973, -1.8138601

What three words

upward.grew.stint

Where To Park For Redheugh Crag?

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Lat / Long

55.344854, 55.344854

What three words

obstinate.examine.shorts

Layby on the A697 or alternatively for a longer walk park in Edlingham. Please park considerately.

Contributed by Sean Linley

A keen walker and wildlife enthusiast and dog dad originally from Leeds but a Newcastle resident for 10 years with a passion for history and heritage. Always curious about my local area and always on the lookout for something new. You’ll often find me studying the OS map for new places to explore!

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Sean Linley

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