Author: St Oswald's Farm

Holy Island

Take a scenic drive up the North East coast and visit The Holy Island of Lindisfarne which sits in the North Sea a mile from the North Northumberland coast. This remote island is cut off from the mainland twice a day by the tide but when the tides allow the island is accessed by a causeway which takes you to this peaceful and very beautiful part of Northumberland. As well as the wealth of history within its tidal walls, the island offers a quiet, tranquil but fascinating day out.

On your route to and from Holy Island you might spot a row of long wooden poles that mark the way from the mainland to the village. These markers show the last part of St Cuthbert’s Way, the 62 mile pilgrimage walk from the town of Melrose in the Borders to the island, many walkers choose to do this final stage of this long distance walk in bare foot, undoubtedly a truly unique and memorable way to end this pilgrimage walk.

Probably the most well known and iconic view of Holy Island is that of Lindisfarne Castle which stands prominently and high up on top of a volcanic plug known as Beblowe Crag. It’s a steep climb to the castle but you will be rewarded with some of the best views of the island.

A visit to Lindisfarne Priory takes you in the footsteps of the ancient monks who built it over 1400 years ago. It stands proudly and although in ruins, these give a clear indication of the grandeur that this building once had. Be sure to look up at the ornate ‘Rainbow Arch’ which still towers high above these highly decorated remains.

A walk to the North of island away from the village takes you to ‘The Links’, a dune covered area which is part of the Lindisfarne Nature Reserve and that boasts animals and plants that can’t be seen elsewhere. There are several wildlife viewing points around the island and if you look out to sea you may spot the resident seals! Another haven for wildlife is St Cuthbert’s Island, a small tidal island to the south west of the main island and is where it is said St Cuthbert himself went for peace and quiet away from the priory.

Holy Island is not short of places to visit, St Mary’s Church, the Old Lifeboat Station Museum, The Heritage Centre with it’s exhibitions and an interactive copy of the famous Lindisfarne Gospels. In the centre of the village you will find St Aidan’s Winery where the popular Lindisfarne Mead is produced. It is believed that mead was first produced and enjoyed on the island following the arrival of St. Aidan in AD687, it is a unique blend of honey and fermented grape juice and is a strong contender to be classed as the ancestor of all fermented honey drinks making it one of the oldest alcoholic drinks. There are lots of variations of the mead to enjoy, it would be a shame not to try at least a few whilst you’re there!

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Another attraction are the Gertrude Jekyll Gardens which are just a short walk from the village and are free to visit. These enchanting gardens are still set in the original garden plan of 1911 when they were created by Gertrude Jekyll and are still to this day planted to be at their best in the July & August when she is said to have visited the gardens.

Holy Island has a unique link to our little piece of Northumberland as it lies at the opposite end of the 97 mile walking route, St Oswald’s Way which ends in Heavenfield right here at St Oswald’s Farm. The route links some of the places associated with St Oswald, the King of Northumbria in the early 7th Century, who played a major part in bringing Christianity to his people and the route takes in castles, coastline, islands, scenic river valleys, hills, attractive villages, forest and farmland. The walk is divided up into sections which are all detailed on the St Oswald’s Way website.

Holy Island is a special and atmospheric place and a trip there will undoubtedly be a memorable one, but please ensure it’s memorable for the right reasons. Each year many people unfortunately get caught out by the tide and become stranded. Please always forward plan your trip and check the safe crossing times by going to

Book your stay in Northumberland and look forward to enjoying all this glorious County has to offer. We look forward to seeing you soon.

More Gorgeous Gardens

Northumberland has so many gorgeous gardens to visit that there is undoubtedly a garden for everyone to enjoy. As well as the better known and larger gardens there are many more that are perhaps not quite so well known but that are quietly and discreetly waiting to be discovered and admired.

Longframlington Gardens near Morpeth offers a lovely place to visit, so whether you’re looking for plants to buy and take home or just looking for a unique garden to visit during a day out, these gardens are great stop off and with a coffee shop too. They were established over 20 years ago and were originally green pasture fields and over the years have gone on to be developed in phases. There are 12 acres of walks, landscaped gardens & arboretum, ponds, garden art, nature & garden trails, information displays & a wild meadow and boasting over 1000 different types of trees shrubs and perennials all set in the peaceful Northumbrian countryside. The ‘Garden & Arboretum Walk’ gives you the opportunity to take in the plant collection and the seasonal changes of the planting schemes, in their ‘Living Exhibition of Plants’. For more information and a to download their leaflet please go their website.

For a garden visit of a different type, Dilston Physic Garden is a must see. Dilston is a unique and modern physic garden tucked away in the beautiful Northumberland countryside and only a few miles from our local town of Hexham. There are currently only 6 other gardens of this type in the UK including the Chelsea Physic Garden in London.

Grounded in the science of how each plant works, throughout the physic garden you will find over 700 plants each with informative signboards. These not only show the traditional and modern plant medicine use, but also the science and active ingredients, as well as the folklore and magic that brings each plant to life!

Dilston is full of surprises, sculptures, art, places to ponder, events, you can chat with a herbalist, enjoy a tour, taste their popular speciality teas or even take a snooze on the soft and fragrant Chamomile Lawn. Dilston is a place for wellbeing and a tranquil space to calm the mind. More details of this lovely hidden treasure can be found here.

Whalton Manor Gardens near Morpeth are an absolute gem. You will find a 17th century house with a three-acre garden that is bursting with inspirational planting and magnificent architectural structures, such as the charming Lutyens-designed, Italianate summerhouse, game larder, pergolas and vast stone-paved courtyard. The gardens are open for individual private viewings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from April to October but must be pre-booked in advance, for more details please go to their website. Why not combine this with a visit to the nearby Belsay Hall.

Bide-a-Wee Cottage Gardens near Netherwitton are a must for all those that enjoy gardens with imaginative planting. The gardens contain a huge variety of herbaceous plants, shrubs, ferns and grasses planted in both a formal and informal style. Bide-A-Wee Garden was created from a small sandstone quarry over the last 25 years with the site once originally bare and exposed apart from rough grassland and gorse. It has undoubtedly been a project which has taken years of careful planning, hard work and love to transform this former grassy and rough site into the garden oasis you see today. This garden is in the perfect countryside setting and a great place to enjoy the peace and tranquility while taking in the views of the garden and of course the stunning Northumbrian countryside.

To enjoy these gorgeous gardens together with the other visitor attractions, the fantastic roman history, stunning scenery and coastline, walks, dark skies and more just book your next stay and look forward to enjoying all Northumberland has to offer. You can check availability and prices of our lovely Heavenfield Cottage here. We look forward to sharing our Northumberland with you soon.

Ice Cream

No matter how old you are, ice cream has to be the best loved holiday treat, no self respecting holiday should be without at least one little (or large) taste of this frozen delight . So whether you opt for an extravagant sundae, a classic ’99’, a tub with a little wooden ‘spoon’, a knickerbocker glory, a good old plain vanilla or a brand new and modern flavour in an a sugar cone with sprinkles, Northumberland can provide your every wish!

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Spoilt for choice at Wheelbirks (image Wheelbirks)

After a sight seeing day in Hexham take your pick from Molly Moo’s or Big Licks Ice Cream Parlour. Molly Moo’s serves the exquisite cream of Galloway ice cream together with milk shakes and all manner of ice creamy delights together with other snacks and drinks. The picturesque village of Corbridge too has an icy offer, grab your favourite cone or tub from The Emporium Parlour and head off for a leisurely saunter along the banks of the lovely River Tyne!

For the creamiest Northumbrian offering it’s worth making a special trip to Wheelbirks Parlour near Stocksfield for their real Jersey ice cream made on site using milk from their small herd of Jersey cows. Wheelbirks offer a fantastic range of flavours and also serves hot food and drinks from their spacious parlour or head outdoors to the lovely orchard, an idyllic spot to sit watch the cows grazing in the fields and the chickens going about their daily business. A small gift shop, the chance to see the Jersey girls themselves together with jersey milk, cream, eggs and lots more to take away with you, is all on offer at Wheelbirks.

If you’re heading to North Northumberland for the day then The Doddington Milk Bar in Wooler is the place to go for the award winning crafted Doddington ice cream. The Milk Bar serves breakfast, light bites, smoothies, floats, milkshakes, hot drinks and of course Doddington Dairy ice cream including their Dark Skies luxury vanilla.

Morwick Dairy which can be found near the picturesque village of Warkworth stirs up recipes and flavours to bring back the true experience of Farmhouse dairy ice cream, but with a unique Italian twist. Call in at their parlour and choose from over 160 flavours, of course the biggest problem will be deciding which one to try!

Many of our pubs, restaurants, cafes and visitor attractions offer locally made ice cream so you may be lucky enough to spot some of these on the menu if your dining out or sightseeing. Whilst on your travels around our scenic County make sure you listen out for that well known jingle of the local vans who as if by magic appear at just the right moment in the parks and car parks across the County.

You can rest assured if ice cream is high up on your holiday treat list your next stay in Northumberland will not disappoint. To book your next stay and of course an ice creamy fix you can find all our availability and prices on our website.

Discovering Morpeth

Northumberland is home to a number of market towns, each one boasting it’s own unique charm, character and many steeped in Northumbrian history. The town of Morpeth sits on the river Wansbeck and is only a half hour’s drive from St Oswald’s Farm. Morpeth is a bustling market town where history and traditional market town charm and independent retail meets with modern shopping centres and trendy wine bars. The cobbled streets, the markets, the walks and the park area together with a unique heritage all give the town an irresistible beauty.

A visit to any market town must include a spot of retail therapy and Morpeth doesn’t disappoint. You will find the Farmers’ Market in town on the first Saturday every month and the weekly charter market in the Market Place each Wednesday. As well the markets the town is packed with retail offerings, the Sanderson Arcade and the charming precinct together with Rutherford’s department store are perfect for browsing and picking up lovely gifts. There is a superb mix of independent shops together with some of your high street favourites.

If you’re seeking a green space Carlisle Park is centrally located in the town and is open every day so it’s always a great time to visit. It includes the William Turner Garden, tennis courts, bowling green, aviary and is home to one of only four working Floral Clocks in the country.

Take a walk up to the castle or there is mature deciduous woodland with lovely, but also very hilly woodland walks, there are even rowing boats if you fancy taking to the water and testing your rowing skills. Or of course Carlisle Park is the perfect spot for a picnic and to sit and watch the world go by!

If you visit in Spring Morpeth’s Bluebell Woods are beautiful when the woodland floor becomes carpeted with bluebells. Properly known as Howburun Woods are names for the How Burn which flows through them into the River Wansbeck. As well as the bluebells, expect to see an array of woodland plants, red squirrels, birds – and the occasional deer.

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Bluebell Woods

As with all Northumbrian Market Towns there is a unique offering of history to enjoy and Morpeth is no different. Northumberland is the only county in England with its own dedicated musical instrument and Morpeth is home to a museum that celebrates and plays homage to our Northumbrian Pipes – a unique part of the heritage of Northumberland. Tucked away in a stunning 13th Century Grade 1 listed building is The Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum which boasts a treasure trove of instruments and along with the fascinating displays, the museum often comes to life with regular live musical performances and ‘meet the piper’ sessions. The Chantry is also home to the Northern Poetry Library and Craft Centre and even the building itself has a story to tell, with townspeople once over having to pay a toll to the local priest to cross the river! You can still see the foundations of the town’s Medieval bridge in the river today.

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The Chantry Museum – Home of the Northumberland Pipes

The town has plenty of free parking and with a great choice of places to eat or grab a coffee it’s the perfect destination for a day out. For more information on visiting this lovely Market Town please go to the More in Morpeth website.

If you enjoy the buzz of a market town just take your pick, as whichever one you choose you’ll be sure of a warm Northumbrian welcome.

Spring in Northumberland

Spring has to be the most sought after season, when we finally escape the winter months and look forward to warmer days and new beginnings. Spring in Northumberland is an absolute riot of colour from the very first glimpse of snowdrops in February through to the delicate blossom in April and May, Northumberland really does know how to put on a good Spring show!

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St Oswald’s Churchyard in Heavenfield

First to raise their pretty little heads are the wonderful snowdrops which cover our woodlands, country roads and gardens and can be enjoyed on so many walks. However there is no better place to see these little gems than the woodland around Wallington Hall which with over half a million snowdrops ensures an almost snowy white woodland carpet. The walled garden at Wallington Hall also holds it’s own Spring surprise as the lawn bursts with 100,000 crocuses and their beautiful purple blooms.

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Walled Garden at Wallington Hall

Shades of white and purple are swiftly followed by sunny yellow as the daffodils taken centre stage across so many visitor attractions. Warkworth Castle, Alnwick Castle, Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens, to name but a few, all glow with stunning daffodils displays. For something a little more casual Letah Wood near Hexham is thought to be Northumberland’s last wild daffodil wood, a lovely walk where you can enjoy the sound of Letah Burn as it passes through the woodland.

Bright yellow soon turns to shades of dusty pink and white as the delicate blossom appears, gardens, country roads, parks and open spaces are scattered with the delicate confetti from their trees. The Cherry Orchard at Alnwick Garden has the largest collection of ‘Taihaku’ Cherry Blossom in the world, comprising of 329 trees and they all bloom together for up to two weeks around the end of April/beginning of May. The orchard is truly lovely and almost has a magical feel as you meander and weave through this Spring spectacle. Up to date news of ‘blossoming’ time can be found on their website.

Spring is also a time where birdlife is second to none, not only the garden birds who seem to chatter all the louder in Springtime, but the visiting birds that swoop in during April to spend the warmer months here too. Even a walk over the fields here at St Oswald’s may bring delights such as yellow hammers, curlews, lapwings, skylarks and buzzards and listen out for our resident woodpecker! If birdlife is what you really enjoy then a trip to North Northumberland and The Farne Islands is an absolute must. The best time to visit the islands to see the breeding seabirds and the iconic puffins is from mid-April when the boat trips are able to land on Inner Farne, Staple Island and Longstone. Serenity boat trips run from Seahouses and full details of the Farne visits and the birdlife can be found on their website.

Of course we couldn’t talk about Spring here without mentioning lambs, lots of them! Lambing here begins during the third week of March and runs until the second week in April, it’s such a lovely time of year to stay on a farm and enjoy the delights of playful new life. Our lambing time stays are always so popular and book up really quickly, we can promise a hive of activity in the lambing shed, births, lamb cuddles and there’s always the pet pen to bottle feed.

A stay in Northumberland at any time of the year promises to be a memorable one, so whether we’re bursting into life in Spring, in full bloom during the glorious summer months, in an autumnal bronze glow or sparkling in our winter frosts, your trip to Northumberland will be magical. If you’d like to book to stay at St Oswald’s Farm you can check all our availability and prices here. We look forward to welcoming you here soon.

Discovering our Museums – Beamish

St Oswald’s Farm is so well placed for days out in Northumberland and there is so much to see and to do and experience across the County and the whole of the North East. So whether you stay for a weekend, a week or two weeks you won’t be short of places to visit and enjoy. If you like to soak up the history and enjoy discovering museums during your time away then Northumberland most definitely won’t disappoint! Our museums are all so very different and many bring to life the lives of the people who once lived and worked here, and none more so than Beamish, an astonishing living and working museum set in over 300 acres of beautiful countryside in nearby Durham.

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The Pit Village – Beamish

Beamish – The Living Museum of the North is a world famous open air museum which tells the story of life in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s, 1940s and 1950s. “A living, working museum that uses its collections to connect with people from all walks of life and tells the story of everyday life in the North East of England”. And my goodness is certainly does, and in the best and most imaginative way ever!

You will step back in time when you visit Beamish, it is nostalgic, authentic, factual, enchanting, everything about it is interactive and engaging, you can’t help but be in awe of it’s scale and fond of it’s charm.

Hop on the tram and discover how families lived and worked in the years leading up to World War 1 in the 1900’s town, it’s everything a town should be. A bank, the printers, a well stocked Co-op, the Masonic Hall, a chemist and the town stables. See vintage cars, motorcycles and bikes in the replica early 1900’s garage, call in at Herron’s Bakery and watch bread and cakes being made using traditional recipes or pop into Jubilee confectioners and see ‘ye olde fashioned sweets’ being made and of course there’s plenty to tempt you if you would like to take some treats to take home. Buy a pint in The Sun Inn, try your hand at games at the fairground or enjoy a picnic by the bandstand in the Town park and if you time it right, the brass band will be playing too.

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Horse and cart at Beamish

Mining was a huge part of North East life and the 1900’s Colliery and Pit Village depict the life of the men and boys and ponies who worked the mines and how families lived in a pit village. Admire the well tended vegetable gardens, grab a takeout at the local fish and chip shop, visit the chapel or go to school, you can even test your skill with the ‘booler’ in the school yard. You might need a Geordie dictionary to know what a booler is!

Jump back on board the bus or tram and head to the 1940’s farm where you can walk through the homes of those living an everyday domestic life during wartime. See how evacuees adjusted to living a rural life and what life was like for the land girls. The farmhouse, the cottage, the old farm implements and buildings, be sure to take note of the pig troughs at the farm, they once resided here at St Oswald’s Farm, and in fact they were where our house is now, before being given to Beamish around 50 years ago.

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Life on the 1940’s farm

A visit to Beamish is a full day out with so much to explore and see and set over such a large area, be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as there’s lots to walk around and you wouldn’t want to miss a single bit! It’s around an hour’s drive from St Oswald’s and we would recommend planning a whole day there to be sure you are able to enjoy it fully. There’s plenty of loos and places to grab a bite to eat and plenty places to sit and enjoy a picnic if you would prefer. For all the details of visiting Beamish please check their website for up to date information and current guidance.

Whatever your interest you’ll be sure to find plenty to see and do in the North East and of course if you need any help or guidance on where to visit you just need to ask and we’ll be happy to help. We look forward to welcoming you here very soon!