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Rochester village 

The small village of Rochester, which sits on the A68 road between Corbridge and Jedburgh,  five miles from Otterburn, is a quiet, peaceful hamlet that boasts the last café in England, Rochester Relish. 

A popular place for people holidaying in Northumberland, Rochester has its own Post Office and is within walking distance from the former Roman outpost and garrison, Bremenium Roman Fort.

Bremenium Roman Fort dates back to around 80 AD, but the remains of the fort we see today were built sometime in the third and fourth centuries. For two centuries it was the most northerly base in the Roman Empire. The fort’s West Gate is the most well preserved area. The former schoolhouse at the junction of the A68 features two ballista balls taken from the fort. The porch walls also contain blocks made from pieces of guttering from Bremenium Roman Fort.

Rochester is close to other significant Roman remains too, including a Roman cemetery and officer’s tomb alongside Dere Street, the famous Roman road that runs through the Rede valley. 

Other historical monuments in Rochester include the Presbyterian Meeting House (built in 1862) and Manse (built in 1840). Until the end of the 18th century, Presbyterianism was banned in England. One of the area’s most famous Presbyterian preachers was Alexander Peden, who preached throughout Redesdale and Northumberland. Padon Monument, Padon’s Pepperpot, which can be found a few miles south of Rochester, was built by Sir Clive Morrison-Bell of Otterburn Hall in the late 19th century. It was said to commemorate the golden wedding anniversary of Morrison-Bell’s uncle and aunt, Sir Charles and Lady Louisa, but some historians also argue it was intended to honour the work of Alexander Peden.

Rochester is also famous as the location of the annual Redefest, a non-profit, volunteer run, community music festival held every year on the first weekend of August. Featuring music, poetry, storytelling and comedy, Redefest is arguably one of the most remote festivals in England, but don’t let that stop you from visiting. You’re guaranteed a fun and lively weekend and a chance to mingle with many of the people that call Redesdale home.

Rochester and the wider Redesdale area contain a rich diversity of historic remains, from neolithic farming communities and Roman military occupation, through to 19th century industry and First World War practice trenches. The Lost Redesdale project aims to better understand and share the landscape story of Redesdale, investigating its cultural heritage with local people through archaeological research and sharing the stories uncovered through creative interpretation.

Volunteers from across Redesdale and wider Northumberland have also helped create an archaeological landscape survey throughout the area using Lidar (‘light ranging and detecting’ or ‘light radar’) technology. 

The Redesdale Lidar Landscapes project saw volunteers receive training and guidance in the use of lidar in archaeological survey, developing new archaeological and recording skills, whilst making a meaningful contribution to our understanding of Redesdale’s historic environment.

The Lost Redesdale project 

Redesdale contains a rich diversity of historic remains from Neolithic farming communities and Roman military occupation through to 19th Century Industry and First World War practice trenches. 

The Lost Redesdale project aims to better understand and tell the landscape story of Redesdale, investigating its cultural heritage with local people through archaeological research and sharing the stories uncovered through creative interpretation.

Find out more about the projects taking place.

Wildlife in Redesdale

Redesdale’s wild and rugged landscapes of grasslands, bogs and mires provide the perfect habitat for wildlife to thrive.

Cattle and sheep craze the mosaic rushy pastures throughout the year, whilst curlews and lapwings flourish in the wetter areas of land.

If you walk across the fells around Carter Bar and Whitlee you might see a herd of feral goats which were first brought to Britain in Neolithic times. The feral goats in Northumberland are some of the best examples of this primitive goat. Herds of feral goats can also be found in hilly areas of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and other parts of England. 

And if you look up to the skies you’ll be able to see some spectacular birds of prey, including hen harriers, buzzards, merlins and peregrines, which all share the Redesdale landscape.

Bat species, including pipistrelles, brown long-eared, whiskered/Brandt’s and Natterer’s bats, have been sighted in trees and buildings and structures across Redesdale. The valley is also an important site for reptiles and amphibians, with significant populations of adders and common toads based in the area.

The River Rede supports a wide range of wildlife, many of which are threatened or protected species. Together with the North Tyne, the River Rede is one of the only places in England currently supporting a significant population of freshwater pearl mussels. Otters – a European protected species – are also widespread along the river and its tributaries.

Migratory Atlantic salmon and brown trout thrive in the waters of the River Rede and the wealth of fish in the river support the population of kingfishers, dippers and herons.

Despite being a military training area, the Otterburn ranges are a haven for wildlife. Barn owl nesting boxes at Otterburn Camp have led to an increase in barn owl chicks. Merlin, buzzards and black grouse can also be found across this remote area of the National Park.

Lidar imagery contains Environment Agency information © Environment Agency and/or database right.

Find out more about other places to visit in Redesdale through the landing pages for the interpretation panels along the valley.
For information about self guided walks in the area see our walks page with downloadable pdfs of 18 walk routes.