Category: Hadrian’s Wall Area Attractions

Posts about the Hadrian’s Wall area attractions and the many historical sites and roman history visitor destinations to enjoy whilst in Northumberland. Lots of information on the well know highlights of visiting Northumberland and the vast history that lies around every corner. Vindolanda, Housesteads, Corstoptium, Roman Army Museum, the infamous Sycamore Gap or Robin Hood’s Tree, Cawfields, Chesters and Heavenfield and St Oswald’s Church that can all be enjoyed whilst staying in Northumberland at St Oswald’s Farm, a working sheep and cattle farm with 5 star luxury holiday accommodation that sleeps 2, Heavenfield Cottage, which sits uniquely on top of Hadrian’s Wall itself. St Oswald’s Farm is just 5-6 miles from both the ancient market town of Hexham and historical village of Corbridge. St Oswald’s Farm is centrally located to enjoy all of Hadrian’s Wall area attractions and the whole of Northumberland and the North East of England.

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!

alt="Spring in St Oswald's Churchyard covered in snowdrops"
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.

alt="Spring crocus lawn at Wallington Hall walled garden"
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.

alt="Beamish pit village and countryside"
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.

alt="horse and cart at Beamish"
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.

alt="old tractor at Beamish"
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!

Simply Kielder

Kielder could be described as a very small and remote village, it could just be called the home of Kielder Water & Forest or be best known for it’s impressive star studded skies with observatory and International Dark Sky Park status. However, it is also so much more than all of that and there is a wealth of beauty to enjoy and a plenty supply of hidden gems to discover.

alt="kielder water still with blue skies"
Tranquil Kielder Water (image Kielder Waterside Park)

At over 250sq miles Kielder Forest is the largest man made working forest in England with Kielder Water the largest man made lake in Europe and with them you will find nature, wildlife and natural beauty on a scale you may not have witnessed before. If you wish to seek out the vastness and expanse of this dynamic scenery for yourself there are many ways to enjoy this beautiful part of Northumberland. Take the expansive forest drive or breathe in the clean and fresh Northumbrian air on one of the many walks, you may even opt to bike or walk the 26 mile Lakeside Way! Pay a visit to the nature garden or take advantage of one of the nature hubs with up to date information throughout the year as the forest and it’s inhabitants change through the course of the seasons.

If you want to be prepared and enjoy a guided walk then download the ‘Kielder Water & Forest Park Wild Walks’ app and take your virtual tour guide with you on your own discovery day of this beautiful piece of Northumberland. The ‘guide’ together with view points ensure you know what to look out for and where.

alt="kielder water with boat on it"
Kielder Water (image Kielder Waterside Park)

A great place to start any visit is the visitor centre at Tower Knowe, it is ideal for planning your day and for choosing what to see and where to go. Both the visitor centre at Tower Knowe and the visitor centre at Kielder Castle offer refreshments too.

A day out here holds lots of surprises and over the past 25 years it has become home to a unique collection of art, sculptures and architecture. Kielder Belvedere, Skyspace, Wave Chamber, Freya’s Cabin, Janus Chairs, Silvas Capitalis or the newest installation, The Nick. You never know what you might just discover on your travels!

Adventure seekers need look no further than this vast offering. The options to get out and get active are second to none, with cycling, mountain biking, canoeing, sailing, water skiing, snorkeling, fencing, archery, horse riding and even activities such as high ropes and zip wire, there is something there for all adrenaline junkies.

So whether you want to quietly enjoy the surrounding nature by taking a leisurely drive or a relaxed trip on the Osprey Ferry across the water to take in the views, or maybe you would just love to catch a glimpse of an Osprey or learn about Water Voles and the ‘Saving Ratty’ project or you want to delve into the vast forest park and see the architectural structures now firmly at home there, or you really want your day out to be about getting down to some serious activities, Kielder will not disappoint.

Kielder is without doubt beautiful but it is remote and we would always recommend checking the Visit Kielder website before you travel for up to date guidance on opening times, any restrictions and weather updates. The website is full of useful information and guides, and you will find some of these guides printed off for your use in the cottage. Please do note that when you visit Kielder a phone signal will not be easily found!

When you stay at St Oswald’s Farm Kielder is about an hour away with the drive there taking you through some of the most amazing and picturesque countryside. Book your next stay with us and be sure to put Kielder on your must do list.

Rainy Days

You may not be able to travel far at the minute but we hope that doesn’t stop you dreaming of your next UK staycation. As you know holidaying in any part of the UK isn’t really about lounging by the pool and topping up your tan, but more about getting out there and seeing just how beautiful this country really is. The offer in Northumberland is staggering and you will never be short of things to see and do whatever the UK weather has in store. Rainy days most definitely don’t have to stop play when you holiday in Northumberland and here’s our top tips for where to head if the weather isn’t quite what you ordered.

A day trip North has plenty to offer and could include the delights of Berwick Upon Tweed and surrounding area. Paxton House just west of Berwick offers guided tours of the 18th century country house with impressive galleries and furniture collections. A short drive then takes you to Chainbridge Honey Farm with their lovely visitor centre and shop, you’d ‘bee’ daft not to visit! A drive further south would take you to Heatherslaw Mill where you can experience the sight, sound and smell of a working mill.

alt="rainy days out Heatherslaw Mill exterior"
Heatherslaw Mill

The market town of Alnwick is always a popular choice with it’s retail offering, and absolutely no trip to Alnwick would be complete without a visit to the impressive Alnwick Castle which offers plenty of indoor delights with so many artefacts and history to enjoy. Whilst in Alnwick be sure to drop into Barter Books which is an absolute Aladdin’s cave for bookworms.

alt="rainy days out Alnwick castle exterior with dark skies"
Alnwick Castle

The beaches are stunning on the North East coast and can be enjoyed all year round and in any weather, perhaps a bracing or even cathartic walk along a sweeping shoreline followed by a few gentle hours taking in the various exhibitions and treasures at the iconic Bamburgh Castle. The village of Bamburgh itself is small but perfect for a saunter or a stop off for coffee and cake. The village is also home to the RNLI Grace Darling museum which tells the story of this famous and courageous lady.

alt="rainy days idea Grace Darling museum in Bamburgh"
Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh

Nearer to home the local town of Hexham with it’s impressive Hexham Abbey and interactive visitor centre is perfect on a day when the elements are against you. Take in the lovely old streets with plenty of retail therapy and a trip to the Britain’s oldest purpose built jail, The Old Gaol.

Newcastle and Gateshead are only a 25 minutes drive away and hold gems such as The Hancock Museum and the Discovery Museum or if you fancy a spot of culture head down to the Quayside and see the current exhibitions in The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Further afield in Sunderland is the Glass Centre with various galleries and the opportunity to watch the art of glass blowing.

If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary there are plenty of experience days to choose from, a dairy tour or cheesemaking experience at Northumberland Cheese Company, a spot of falconry with Falconry Days , learn about bee-keeping at Northumberland Honey, or how do you fancy learning the art of sausage making with the Northumberland Sausage Company, you’ll discover that absolutely anything can go in a sausage!!

alt="rainy days image flying owl at falconry days"
Experience Days with Falconry Days

It goes without saying that these North East delights don’t just have to be enjoyed on rainy days and can be enjoyed whatever the great British weather has in store!

Of course, if the weather really is doing it’s worst, you may be tempted to not go anywhere at all, a lazy day of relaxing in Heavenfield Cottage might just be what’s in order. Light the log burner, switch on the fairy lights, wrap up in a fluffy robe, and settle down in front of Netflix or enjoy that long anticipated book or maybe you’d prefer a warm bubbly soak in that extra deep tub! Whatever you choose to do, rainy days on your next staycation may just become a very big bonus!

If we can help to plan your stay or if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch and as always our prices and availability are all on our website.

We look forward to welcoming you here, in any weather!

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.

alt="Hexham aerial view"
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.

alt="Hexham Abbey and bowling green"
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.

alt="Hexham Old Gaol"
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.

alt="Forum cinema"
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!

alt="Queens Hall Hexham"
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.

alt="Hexham green spaces"
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!

alt="town welcome sign"
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!

Discovering our Museums – Vindolanda

St Oswald’s Farm is so well placed for days out in Northumberland and there really is so much to see and do 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 you most definitely won’t be disappointed!

The wealth of museums is endless from the Aviation Museum at Bamburgh Castle to the National Trust property Cherryburn which was the birthplace of artist Thomas Bewick, to Blyth Battery, the Grace Darling Museum and of course the many museums along Hadrian’s Wall boasting more Roman artefacts than you can begin to imagine. The Ferryman’s Hut in Alnmouth is said to the be the country’s smallest museum and the nearby town of Hexham boasts the oldest purpose built Gaol in England with the market town of Morpeth holding claim to a dedicated bagpipe museum!

Of course any trip to Northumberland wouldn’t be complete without delving into our vast Roman history and we are lucky enough to have the Roman Vindolanda Fort & Museum only a short 20 minute drive from St Oswald’s Farm. This is one of Europe’s most important Roman archaeological sites and is situated on the Stanegate Road, one mile south of Hadrian’s Wall and is set in a stunning landscape which really allows you to feel and connect with this inspiring historic site.

alt="Discovering our museums Vindolanda site"
Vindolanda – Nine forts over nine centuries

Vindolanda comprises of nine forts built on top of each other over nine centuries with the visible stone fort dating back to the third century. The site includes a modern world class museum which tells the vast and interesting Roman story and the museum is constantly updated and changes with annual archaeological finds added as a result of the ongoing excavation programme.

The Vindolanda tablets are perhaps Vindolanda’s greatest discovery and have been voted as ‘Britain’s Top Treasure’. These delicate, wafer thin pieces of wood covered in spidery writing were were found in the oxygen-free deposits in the floors of the deeply buried early wooden forts at Vindolanda and are the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain.

alt="Discovering our museums vindolanda replica roman temple"
Replica Roman Temple at Vindolanda

The Vindolanda Excavations take place every year between April & September and attract hundreds of volunteers from all over the world and visitors are welcome to watch the excavations as they take place, you might be lucky enough to be there when the next major Roman artefact is discovered and dug up from the ground. Of course if you want to get stuck in yourself you can book to take part in the excavations but they do book up quickly. More details can be found here with the 2021 dates released at the end of this year.

alt="discovering our museums vindolanda excavation site"
Excavations underway at Vindolanda Image credit :Vindolanda

You could easily spend more than half day embracing all that’s on offer at Vindolanda and with an on site café offering a range of hot and cold drinks as well as snacks, lunches and afternoon tea it’s the perfect way to spend a day out come rain or shine! 

Whatever your interest you’ll be sure to find so much to see and do in Northumberland 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.

For all availability and details of Heavenfield Cottage please go to our website. We hope to see you soon.