One of the unexpected pleasures of running our holiday cottage has been rediscovering many of the fantastic places there are to visit in Northumberland. I’m sure we are all very familiar with often visiting attractions in other areas but not actually taking the time to remember and enjoy just what is on our very doorstep. We are now thoroughly enjoying some day trips very close to home and a recent visit to nearby Blanchland reminded me without doubt how lucky we are to have so many superb places to enjoy.
Blanchland is the prettiest of villages, and it is almost like stepping back in time, a quaint and peaceful village in the most tranquil of settings. Blanchland straddles the border between Northumberland and Durham and sits within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Built from the remains of a 12th century abbey the village and the surrounding countryside are truly beautiful.
The drive from St Oswald’s Farm takes about 35 minutes and is a really lovely scenic route that crosses the fells to this tiny village. Once there parking is easy as there signposting to a large car park which relies on donations of £1 in an honesty box, this is definitely a clue to the laid back and relaxed atmosphere you will find here.
Blanchland (White land) got its name from the white habits worn by monks of the Premonstratensian order who founded Blanchland Abbey in 1165. Although the whole of the abbey doesn’t remain, the pretty parish church which is a Grade 1 listed building is well worth a visit.
The Lord Crewe Arms sits prominently in the ‘Square’ and is one of the oldest hostelries in the country dating back to the 12th century. It is a charming building steeped in history and with lots of features giving clues to its history and boasts the most magnificent fireplaces. This award winning hotel and restaurant are a definite must see, but it’s worth booking in advance if you wish to dine there.
We visited a lovely craft and gift shop, Jaspah Crewe, and were very tempted by the large range of handcrafted gifts, Blanchland isn’t the place for retail therapy as the only other shop is the pretty little post office which sits untouched by time.
If you’re looking for morning coffee or perhaps afternoon tea and are tempted by very large pieces of cake definitely head to The White Monk Tearooms. The tearooms are in the very grand old school building, there’s loads of tables inside and if you visit on a warm sunny day there is space outside to sit as well.
Blanchland today is entirely owned by The Lord Crewe Trustees, a charity established in 1721. The village was previously owned by the family of the Bishop’s wife, Dorothy Forster, whose nephew was General Tom Forster and co-leader of the English Jacobite army of 1715. The ghost of Tom Forster’s sister, also called Dorothy is said to haunt the Lord Crewe Arms as she waits in vain for her brother’s return from exile. Eeek!
The houses in the Square all with dark red painted doors looks uniform and neat and very pretty and so well kept. The village has been used as a set many times for films and TV series…you never know you might just bump into a famous face!
The surrounding countryside just makes you want to see more and there are many short walks, circular walks, the Blanchland Geotrail and plenty more to enjoy. Details of all the walks in the area can be found on the North Pennines AONB website. Alternatively the post office has lots of leaflets about the area and details of the walking routes.
Nearby is Derwent Reservoir which is the second largest reservoir in Northumberland. The reservoir is a popular place to fish for trout and you will also find a picnic area, bird hides and an easy access path.
In Northumberland we really are spoilt with some of the best places to visit and as we rediscover our favourites we look forward to sharing them with you. Or of course you could book a stay in Heavenfield Cottage and discover all Northumberland has to offer for yourself, we promise you won’t be disappointed! All our prices and availability can be found here.