Visit Hexham

The town of Hexham is only a short 10 minute drive from St Oswald’s Farm and lies in the heart of the stunning Tyne Valley.  This picturesque town is the perfect destination for a day out in beautiful surroundings whilst taking in the rich history which you will find around every corner of this ancient market town.

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Handsome Hexham

Hexham is as handsome a market town as you will find anywhere, and the imposing priory is a central part of what makes it memorable”  

Bill Bryson, Best Selling Travel writer.

Hexham Abbey undoubtedly takes centre stage in this town and dominates the historic Market Place. This flourishing place of worship was founded by the Northumbrian saint and bishop Wilfrid in 674. Hexham Abbey is home to a wealth of artifacts from the Anglo-Saxon crypt to the tombstone of a Roman soldier, from exquisite sculpture and stained glass windows to the frith seat and from a medieval painted screen to the night stair, a set of time-worn steps. With so many stories, discoveries and with an interactive museum to explore you might find you need to take some time out to reflect and relax with a piece of cake in the lovely Refectory Cafe. To visit Hexham Abbey or attend a service please do check their website for times.

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Hexham Abbey & Bowling Green

Hexham certainly isn’t short of impressive buildings and Hexham Old Gaol is no exception, this large square stone structure was built in 1333 as England’s first purpose-built prison. The building’s history and the story of its infamous inhabitants including the Border Reivers is told in full and gruesome detail across the four floors of the museum you see today. All floors are fully accessible with a glass elevator to transport you effortlessly back through time.

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Oldest purpose built gaol

Hexham is fortunate to have its own cinema which is centrally located in the Market Place. This community owned cinema dates back to 1937 and has been brought right up to date with the latest 3D technology. They offer a wide range of up to date films, hold exhibitions and have regular live music events, stream live performances and have a licensed cafe so you can enjoy your favourite tipple with that all important popcorn! Visit their website to find out what’s on during your stay.

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Forum Cinema – a community owned cinema in the heart of Hexham
image credit Forum Cinema

The Queen’s Hall on Beaumont Street is a striking Victorian building, once a Corn Exchange before becoming a dance hall, it is now a 350 seat theatre and home to two galleries. The programme is varied and combines a selection of the finest theatre performances including a wide variety of drama, comedy, musicals and more. Top tip…make time for a bite to eat in the cafe…best cheese and bacon scone you will ever taste!

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Queen’s Hall Arts Centre
(image credit Queen’s Hall)

Hexham however isn’t just about the history and the impressive buildings, it also boasts Northumberland’s only racecourse and England’s most scenic and highest National Hunt racecourse! Located high above the town with outstanding panoramic views, Hexham racecourse has been in operation for well over 100 years and has an annual programme of race meetings. The views are outstanding and well worth a drive up there for the views alone or of course if you fancy a flutter all meeting dates can be found on their website.

Never short of green spaces Hexham undoubtedly has some of the nicest parks and walks. The grounds of Hexham Abbey with it’s Grade II listed bandstand, the wide open space of the Sele, the beautifully kept Bowling Green with lots of park benches to sit and enjoy your surroundings, or if you fancy a river walk there’s nowhere nicer and more tranquil than the Tyne Green river walk which can be reached by car just before heading east out of the town.

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Parks, walks & green spaces to enjoy

A trip to Hexham wouldn’t be complete without a saunter around the retail offer where lovely independent gift shops and art galleries compliment some high street favourites. Do try to wander off the main high street and find some of the small independents tucked away on some of the quaint side streets with their interesting quirky shops and galleries. Explore Market Street, Hallstile Bank and the cobbles of St Mary’s Chare, oh and remember to look up, you might just spot a little piece of history peering down at you!

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A warm welcome in Hexham

Hexham is a warm and welcoming town and was even recently voted the happiest place to live and in this town you won’t be short of places to stop for something to eat or drink with lots of coffee shops to choose from. You might want to plan your trip to coincide with the fortnightly Hexham Farmers’ Market or plan your stay when one of the many events are taking place. Hexham is a town where there really is something for everyone. To find out more about what’s on and when, take a look at the Visit Hexham website

A visit to Northumberland can take you from town to country to remote hills within a matter of minutes with unrivalled beauty and scenery wherever you choose to go. Many of our guests arrive here wondering what this northern most County holds for them, and within a few short days find they have fallen for it’s charm. Of course you don’t have to take our word for it, book your stay with us and discover Northumberland for yourself.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Book Direct

Do you always book direct with the owner of a holiday rental or do you prefer to use an online travel agency? Before we started our holiday cottage business like many people we tended to use an OTA to book a stay, it felt ‘safer’ somehow. However through our experience we’ve found this not to be case and we would like to try to dispel some of the myths surrounding booking directly with owners and the differences you may find between booking direct and when you use an online agent. And importantly a few little tips on you how to ensure you can book direct and still book with confidence.

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There are of course the very obvious reasons, no booking fee is normally applied when you book direct and prices are less likely to be over inflated than those often charged by an agent. OTA’s tend to have limited knowledge of a property and of the area you are wishing to visit, so there is the chance that the area or the property isn’t quite what you were hoping for. An owner knows their property inside out and knows their area better than anyone and more importantly as owners, we care about our property and your guest experience and we only want you to come and stay if it’s right for you. We absolutely don’t want you to stay if we think you won’t enjoy it or it isn’t going to be what you were expecting.

Book Direct – ‘No-one will care more about your guest experience than the owner themselves’

Sadly, there can be miscommunication between OTA’s and owners, an email doesn’t reach us or isn’t sent, a guest makes a change to a booking and that message just doesn’t get to us. When you book direct it is easy to communicate with us, there is no call centre, no queue and no third party involvement. Should you wish to arrive earlier or later or need to make changes or have a query or you would like to book some additional extras, we are more than happy to oblige in any way we can. OTA’s are dealing with hundreds of enquiries at any one time and it can be so very unfortunate if a message isn’t passed on to us. Likewise, it can be difficult for owners to communicate with future guests as some agents don’t give owners the guests contact details, so should an owner need to contact a guest it can be somewhat of a challenge.

When you book direct – It’s the difference between being chauffeur driven or taking the bus!

One of the not so obvious benefits is that you are very often supporting a small business when you book direct, a family business, a business which is part of a small community, a small business who in turn supports other local businesses. A small business who cares about their area, their property and cares that you have the best stay possible.

As well as the booking fee agents also earn commission from all bookings they take and this can be anywhere up to 25%, and this is deducted before the owner receives their payment, and in some cases isn’t made to the owner until after a guest has arrived for their stay.

So, how do you book direct and know that the business is genuine, how do you know that your payment is safe and how do you seek reassurance that when you arrive it’s going to be the right place for you?

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We would advise that you check us out, find our website, look at our social media, do we sound friendly, are we engaged with our audience, look at review sites, you’ll soon see if information is consistent and know if it feels right for you. Google us, email us, question us, look at our terms and conditions, look at our privacy policy, look for indicators of quality and industry standards. No legitimate holiday rental business owner will ever mind you checking them out, if they do, my advice would be don’t book with them. Many owner websites now take card payments which gives you further reassurance when you pay. If you still feel unsure, please just give us a ring and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have. We’re a friendly bunch and would be only too happy help.

Next time you’re searching online for a holiday or a weekend away if you can please look past all the paid adverts on your internet search, perhaps even keep going until you get to the second or even the third page, as quite often our lovely little businesses are hiding there, we don’t have hundreds of thousands of pounds to put into search engine advertising, but we’re there all the same just hoping you’ll find us!

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Our websites are there just hiding under the online agents

Booking direct undoubtedly has many added benefits for both parties but ultimately it has to feel right for you, and as owners we want you to feel confident when you book and this has never been more important than it is right now. As tourism starts up again and we begin to think of holidays and time away and we all try to adjust to our new normal you may feel you really want to know what changes will have been implemented and what new measures have been taken to keep you safe. Only the owner themselves will know this about their property and about their new protocols, only they will know what training they have undertaken and they will be ones who will be able to give you the reassurance you need to book with confidence.

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If you’d like to book to stay with us and book direct, all our prices and availability can be found on our website. We would love it if you checked us out, we’d happily answer any queries you might have and of course we would look forward to welcoming you here to St Oswald’s Farm.

King of Castles

So, where is the King of Castles? Well without doubt it has to be Northumberland which boasts more castles than any other county in England, a clear legacy of its turbulent past including the infamous Border wars which raged from the 14th to 16th centuries. Northumberland is home to over 70 castle sites and although some of the buildings have now gone many remain, some in all their grandeur yet some only in ruin, leaving only a hint of what once was.

No trip to England’s northernmost County would be complete without a visit to at least one of these remarkable reminders of the history which Northumberland lays claim to. No matter where you stay or where your days out take you, you can rest assured there will be a castle just around the corner.

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Alnwick Castle – image D Bartlett

A trip to the North of Northumberland brings delights such as Alnwick Castle which is the second largest inhabited castle in England after Windsor Castle and is home to the 12th Duke of Northumberland. This historical and impressive monument stands inland and holds guard over the River Aln with the impressive grounds surrounding the castle landscaped by none other than Lancelot “Capability” Brown. The castle itself has featured in over 40 films and TV shows including two of the Harry Potter films. Visit the lavish state rooms, enjoy the exhibitions or take up the chance to have a guide with one of the daily talks and tours or there’s always the opportunity for a spot of broomstick training for those would be wizards!

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Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle is undoubtedly one of the most iconic sights on the North East coastline with the unmistakable fortress which has stood guard high on its rocky plateau for over 1400 years, it is quite the the formidable structure sitting above the small and very beautiful village of Bamburgh. A vast history ensures there is plenty to enjoy from the state rooms to the keep, and from the armoury to the museums, halls and even the stables, it’s a treasure trove of delights.

North Northumberland is home to many magnificent castles, Warkworth Castle is just off the coast and with it’s cross shaped keep it sits proudly above the River Coquet and has it’s own Hermitage & Chapel with can be visited but accessible only by boat. The ruins of the once dominating Dunstanburgh Castle stand on a remote headland between Embleton and Craster and can be reached by taking the short coastal walk from Craster village.

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Warkworth Castle

As you would expect with over 70 sites there are castles to be found all over the County and St Oswald’s Farm is within a very short drive of some really lovely castles. Aydon Castle is a real treat and quite literally 10 minutes from us, this fortified manor house is almost intact and is set in secluded woodland and with it’s own walled garden it’s the perfect spot for a picnic. A short drive further east along the picturesque Tyne Valley you will find Prudhoe Castle which was built in the late 11th century can be found on the South bank of River Tyne, both are English Heritage properties and have good amenities.

The castles across the County are vastly different and all with their own unique story to tell, it’s easy to get lost in time and imagine a life long ago. So whether you visit the ruins of Belsay Castle or cross the water to Holy Island to discover Lindisfarne Castle or seek the thrill of ghost hunting at Chillingham Castle you will undoubtedly have an unforgettable day out as you explore our past.

Northumberland is looking forward to welcoming you back really soon and when it’s safe to do so. When planning your stay and days out please check with venues themselves for their opening times and new procedures for welcoming visitors.

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We can’t wait to welcome guests back to St Oswald’s Farm and will be putting everything in place to ensure you can book with confidence and enjoy a safe stay.

Why not book your stay now and start making your plans for 2021.

All our prices and availability can be found on our website and of course if you have any queries or there is anything we can help please just get in touch. We look forward to seeing you soon and until then stay safe!

Why Five Star?

We’ve been asked that question a few times. “Why did you decide to be five star”? It’s an easy question to answer.

From the time when Heavenfield Cottage was just a thought in our minds we never imagined it being anything other than five star. Firstly and logically our research showed us that there wasn’t a huge choice of quality accommodation for two people in our area and showed us that guests now prefer higher end accommodation and quite often will look for the same or more than they have in their own homes. That was the sensible researched reason.

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However five star was important to me because I knew I could do it well, I felt I could provide the quality service and guest experience that five star requires. As well as a keen eye for detail and a love of all things lovely, I knew I wanted guests to feel special, for them to feel thought about and that five star is definitely about more than just high thread counts and matching crockery and not using granny’s old sofa. It is so much more than that, although clearly that is very important too and just the thought of it could bring me out in hives!

Five star to us is ensuring that we think a little deeper, we go a little further, we ensure we have our guests at the forefront of every decision, every thought, every communication and that the journey our guests go on from the minute they touch our business is friendly, thoughtful, exceptional, stand-out and memorable. Whether that is through our website, our social media channels, our emails, our newsletter or our personal contact before, during and after a guest stays, that they feel that we have put them first and that they know exactly what they are coming to and who we are.

Holidays, time away, weekend breaks, staycations or whatever you want to call them are important. They are your time to refuel, to rest, to play, to wind down, to explore, to switch off and we have that at the forefront of our minds always. We know that you trust us with your holiday, with your special time away, with your well earned break and we always remember that.

Our guest book

In April we were delighted to be awarded Self Catering Provider of the Year 2020 in the North East of England Tourism awards, an absolutely fantastic achievement for us, we were blown away to be awarded this for the second year running. We feel very lucky to be part of the fantastic overall tourism offer here in Northumberland. However whether its five stars or a gold award that we receive nothing beats the feeling that we get when we know our guests are enjoying their stay or when we receive a great guest review.

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Celebrating our 2020 awards at home – socially isolated!

If you would like to stay with us, all details of our lovely Heavenfield Cottage together with prices and availability can be found on our website. If you have any queries or if there is anything we can do to make sure your stay is just what you want it to be, then please do get in touch after all it’s all part of the five star service!

Plenty reasons to plan a stay in Northumberland

What could be better than making plans for some well earned time away, and no matter what you’re looking for Northumberland will be sure to fit the bill. It never fails to impress all who visit this northern most County of England.

The coastline – Northumberland has an unrivaled and magnificent coastline with castles, coves, dunes, wildlife, bird life and with more than 30 miles of beaches to choose from it’s difficult to pick a favourite spot. The beaches are the widest, cleanest and most picturesque you will find in the UK.

The landscape – There aren’t enough words to describe the landscape here, it’s beyond dramatic, it’s inspiring, it’s beautiful, it’s vast, it’s ever changing. Northumberland can take you from harsh and rugged to pretty and idyllic within such a short space of time, but please don’t just take our word for it, it has to be seen to be believed.

History – We’re just bursting with it, whether it’s Kings & castles, battles & riots, stately homes, mining heritage, museums or the Romans and a certain famous Wall you can’t help but be in awe of the facts, the discoveries and the often bloody history steeped almost everywhere you look.

Gardens – Each and every garden you discover in Northumberland is unique and each has it’s own story to tell. Some have a wealth of history embedded in their walls or running through their borders, some are grand and stately whilst others are more modern and full of ambition and quirkiness. Whichever ones you choose to visit you will not be disappointed.

The people – Northumberland is home to only 316,000 people and is so sparsely populated that 97% of it is classed as rural. There may not be many of us Northumbrians but we are the friendliest of folk, happy to chat, happy to take time with you and you will always feel welcome here.

Our produce – We’re producers and we’re proud of it. Our butchers, farm shops, bakers, restaurants, cafes, pubs, dairies, markets, chefs and our farmers will ensure the produce you find in Northumberland is something you will always remember. If it’s produced in Northumberland it’s produced with passion!

Our dark skies – A winter stay is spectacular in Northumberland, we have the darkest starriest skies and can even boast that our International Dark Sky Park is the largest protected Dark Sky area of night sky in Europe. 

If you’re still unsure whether Northumberland is the place for you, then just take a look at what other have had to say about their stay, we promise you won’t want to leave.

If you’d like to book a stay with us and enjoy some 5* luxury then please head to our availability page on our website or you can contact us directly…we look forward to hearing from you.

Produced in Northumberland

You can’t visit Northumberland without realising the passion and dedication that goes into producing our local goods and products. Whether we are the ones to grow it, nurture it, care for it, rear it, produce it, harvest it, bake it or be the ones to lovingly prepare and serve it, we are dedicated to ensuring everything Produced in Northumberland is a source of pride to our County and a source of enjoyment for our visitors and residents.

Many of our restaurants, cafes and pubs actively source and promote their use of local produce, Barrasford Arms, The Carts Bog, The Angel of Corbridge, The Beaumont Hotel in Hexham and The Lord Crewe Arms in Blanchland to name but a few, all include locally reared or locally grown produce on their menus.

Some of our local establishments have gone a step further to ensure the freshest of ingredients are used, where home grown produce is quite literally taken from garden direct to your table. Restaurant Hjem in Wall is supplied by a specialist grower in Northumberland and The Battlesteads in Wark have their own garden from which they take their own home grown fruit, vegetables, salads, flowers and herbs. What could be better than freshly home grown produce with zero food miles?

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Restaurant Hjem ensuring the freshest of produce is served to your table
Image Restaurant Hjem

We know many of our guests like to shop local and find that their time away gives the opportunity to enjoy preparing and cooking a relaxed and special meal. A quick trip to Hexham or Corbridge and you will find local butchers, bakers and independent local farm shops. The Corbridge Larder, Halls butchers and Grants bakery in Corbridge together with The Grateful Bread bakery in Hexham, Robsons and Cranstons butchers in Hexham along with Ridley’s Fish & Game offer the finest ranges of locally sourced produce. Our local butchers strive to offer the best quality meat with the highest level of traceability, so feel free to ask where your meat is from…it might even be from St Oswald’s Farm!

‘If it’s Produced in Northumberland it’s produced with passion’

If you’re lucky enough to be staying on the 2nd or 4th Saturday of the month be sure to head to the award winning Hexham Farmers’ Market where you will be spoilt for choice, with cheeses, meats, breads, oils, chutneys, jams, fruit, vegetables, honey, fish, beer, spirits, confectionery, gifts, biscuits, pressed juices, coffee and that all important cake….well you are on holiday after all. I don’t think anyone has ever been known to leave Northumberland feeling hungry!

Hexham Farmers’ Market is on in Hexham Market Place from 9am until 12 noon on the 2nd & 4th Saturday each month. Look out for guest producers, live music, competitions and during the autumn months you can take the opportunity to press your own apple juice…you can’t get fresher than that. (images HFM). Further information on current producers can be found on their website.

Some producers across the County are part of the local Produced in Northumberland accredited scheme and it is easy to spot the associated brand and labeling with the distinctive Northumberland flag on many of these products.

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Northumbrian Bakehouse biscuits

As a visitor to Northumberland you will without doubt come across some of our growers, our farmers, our farm shops, our butchers, our brewers, our restaurants, our cafes and our highly talented chefs. We very much hope you are able to sense the passion and commitment in ensuring that you are able to enjoy the very best of Produced in Northumberland.

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Enjoy our own fresh farm eggs when you stay at St Oswald’s Farm

If you’d like to discover Northumberland and enjoy all we have to offer in our amazing County we would love to welcome you here to St Oswald’s Farm. All details of our accommodation together with availability and prices can be found here.