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.
If you’ve never visited Northumberland before you might be wondering why you’d want to have a Northumberland bucket list, or if you’re lucky enough to have visited before then you will already know just how much Northumberland has to offer.
A bucket list should be filled with things to enjoy, great places to visit and experiences you won’t forget and Northumberland is packed with places and experiences that are definitely bucket list worthy.
If you love castles then we’re the County for you with over 70 castles to discover and admire, from castle ruins in the countryside to castles towering above towns and coastline and from haunted castles to castles you will recognise from films and books, Northumberland is king of the castles.
Our unspoilt coastline is quite simply breath taking with it’s vast sweeping beaches, undulating pathways and dunes, hidden rock-pools and coves, there is no better place to enjoy the beauty, peace and the tranquility that you will find on the Northumberland coast. Time it right and you may find you have the whole beach to yourself, there’s no fighting for beach space here.
Our history is everywhere you look and you’ll spot it around every corner, this County is quite literally a history buff’s dream destination. Northumberland’s geographic location bordering Scotland has shaped a history of violence and conflict and this can be seen across the region through it’s ancient sites, museums, homes of grandeur, churches, battle sites and in the villages and towns.
The culture and arts across the North East are second to none with extensive galleries, architectural pieces, exhibitions and events and with music and festivals thrown in to ensure there is always something for everyone.
The Northumbrian countryside is more than impressive at every time of the year, it’s wild, it’s rugged, there are hills, crags, woodlands, waterfalls, forests and rivers but most of all it’s unspoilt and with stunning views that will leave you in awe.
The diverse landscape means that the wildlife offer here is out of this world with the opportunity to spot seals, dolphins, puffins and birdlife aplenty, red squirrels, osprey, deer and even wild cattle and goats. There are designated sites for watching bird and wildlife or take a trip to one of the superb nature reserves or you may just spot our wilder residents going about their business when you’re out and about in the Northumbrian countryside.
Northumberland offers every type of garden imaginable, from grand estates to hidden retreats and from naturally wild to neat and manicured. Visit some of the well known gardens that are bold and spectacular or if you delve a little deeper you’ll find some small but perfectly formed gardens all beautifully doing their thing to ensure every inch of Northumberland is glorious.
We couldn’t write about a Northumberland bucket list without mentioning the famous and epic World Heritage site of Hadrian’s Wall. Stretching 73 miles from coast to coast Northumberland is home to the most famous and spectacular sites along this Roman masterpiece. The sheer scale of the monument is impressive in itself and a visit to any of the Roman sites Housesteads, Vindolanda, Chesters or Corstopitum will leave you in awe of what the Romans did for us!
The walking and cycling opportunities are second to none, Hadrian’s Wall National Trail, Northumberland National Park, Northumberland Coast National Landscape and the huge network of paths, trails and routes mean you will never be short of places to enjoy on foot or on two wheels.
Northumberland has an International Dark Sky Park status and that means we have some of the most pristine dark skies in England making it one of the best places to go stargazing. Our skies are quite literally out of this world with over 2000 stars to admire and there’s the possibility of seeing an aurora. Even for us the wonder of our night sky is staggering and it’s easy to forget that not everyone has had the privilege of witnessing a truly dark and starry sky. Will our stars be on your bucket list?
Northumberland has some of the best food producers in the UK and with such a huge natural larder to choose from it’s no surprise. Across the whole of the County we are spoilt for choice with pubs and restaurants that boast menus carefully chosen from an array of local produce. Fish and seafood including the famous Craster kippers, beef, game and poultry, fruit and vegetables, award winning cheeses and dairy produce, jams, chutneys, bread, eggs, confectionary, soft drinks, real ale and of course Northumbrian lamb reared here on our own farm that is available to buy and take home.
This Northern and sparsely populated County boasts so much and we hope we’ve given you a taste of what a trip here could hold and why everyone should have a Northumberland bucket list. Book your stay at St Oswald’s Farm and start your Northumberland adventure.
Hexham Abbey sits proudly at the heart of the historic market town of Hexham and with a long history and so much to see and so much to admire it’s definitely a must for places to visit during your stay.
Hexham Abbey is one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in the country and was founded back in AD674 as a Benedictine Abbey by St Wilfred and through it’s long history has seen periods of immense turmoil, destruction and change and this is reflected in the fascinating and wonderful church we see today.
There is a wealth of treasures to discover and admire when you visit the Abbey, the bright and colourful stained glass windows that adorn the North and South Transept, the Great East window situated behind the High Altar and the windows in the Nave that feature a variety of themes from the Northern saints to the armed forces. The Phelps Organ is magnificent with it’s beautiful polished oak and is quite a dominating sight and as you would expect plays a huge part in Abbey life. One of our favourite parts of the Abbey is the night stair and you can almost feel the history and the stories they could tell as you climb the 35 worn steps. At the bottom of the night stair is Flavinus’ Tombstone, a memorial slab which stands nearly nine feet high that was found in 1881 under part of the floor of the Abbey and is the largest example of its kind to have been found in England. A visit to the Saxon Crypt is a highlight for many visitors and takes you down to the earliest days of Christianity in England. The Crypt is open to visitors daily and although there is small charge one of the wonderful Abbey stewards will talk you through the history.
As you wander the wonders of this majestic building admire artifacts such as the Frith Stool and Acca’s Cross, discover what the banners mean and look out for the 7th century ‘Hexham Lion’. In the chancel you’ll find a fascinating collection of 15th century painted wood panels which are made up of three distinct series and in the choir you’ll encounter the rood screen which dates from the late 15th or early 16th century and features paintings of saints, including St Oswald, St Etheldreda and St Andrew.
In 2014 restoration of the medieval monastery complex, the Priory Buildings, was completed and this work reunited all the buildings on the Abbey site for the first time since the Reformation, and gave the opportunity to create a new permanent and interactive exhibition, The Big Story which tells 1300 years of history. The restoration also allowed for a new cafe within the Abbey buildings and you will find the Refectory Cafe perfect for coffee, light lunch or a delicious afternoon tea.
The Abbey is just as beautiful outside as inside and it stands within it’s own grounds which includes a pretty park area and recently restored bandstand. The grounds are lovely for a stroll and make sure you walk as far as the beautifully manicured bowling green and gardens of Hexham House.
The Abbey isn’t just about it’s fascinating history, the Abbey plays a huge part in the local community today and offers a wonderful programme of events and exhibitions alongside it’s regular services and to find out more about visiting the Abbey or about the events please check their website.
A visit to the Hexham Abbey is a wonderful experience with its’s peaceful atmosphere and ancient architectural treasures, and of course gives the opportunity to enjoy the lovely and historic town of Hexham.
Walltown Country Park lies on the line of Hadrian’s Wall and within the stunning Northumberland National Park.
Up until 45 years ago Walltown was still a working quarry where the whinstone (that forms the crag along which Hadrian’s Wall runs) was blasted with dynamite to provide road stone for the expanding road network of the early 20th Century. After it closed in 1976 the quarry was filled in and landscaped, planted with trees and flowers, and today is a haven for wildlife.
Walltown is just a mile from Greenhead and around 6 miles from The Sill Discovery Centre and Vindolanda and only a stone’s throw from The Roman Army Museum making it really accessible if you’re exploring other parts of Hadrian’s Wall. There’s plenty parking, EV charge points, loos, a visitor centre and there’s really handy information boards making it easy to decide which walk or route you might like to take once you get there. Choose from short 10 minute or 25 minute walks or a longer 40 minute nature trail where you will discover the park’s wildlife, birdlife, ponds and a peace labyrinth which was planted in 2011 with 2000 willow trees which once fully grown will form a giant labyrinth.
The car park at Walltown also gives access to the Thirlwall Castle Walk which is an easy 2 mile circular route which takes you along the Tipalt Burn and past the ruins of Thirlwall Castle. This relic of troubled times dates back to the 12th Century to when John Thirlwall built this defensive home to protect his family and of course it was a well chosen spot as he had a plentiful supply of dressed stone from a nearby very large wall.
From Walltown Country Park you can walk along Hadrian’s Wall to Walltown Crags to see one of the most dramatic views of Hadrian’s Wall. The wall is so well preserved at this site and the sheer volcanic rock edge plunges into the landscape along the crags of the Whin Sill creating a spectacular viewpoint.
A day time visit to Walltown Country Park is all about woodlands, walking and wildlife, you’ll find it perfectly peaceful and wonderfully scenic and yet as night falls it is also the perfect place to see the amazing dark and starlit skies of Northumberland. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Northumberland has some great National Trust properties to enjoy, from tiny houses to magnificent estates and you will find each and every one fascinating and an absolute joy to visit. Cragside sits within the Northumberland National Park near the market town of Rothbury and the house, the gardens, the estate and even the drive from St Oswald’s over to Cragside is impressive on the biggest scale. Cragside House and Estate was created by Lord William and Lady Margaret Armstrong, William who was a visionary Victorian inventor and Margaret a keen gardener and together their vision and their passion for engineering and natural sciences transformed a baron land into what we see today.
The Victorian mansion was a pioneering home, perhaps the first ever ‘smart home’, it was the first house to be powered by hydroelectricity generated using hydraulics which harnessed power from nearby lakes. Throughout the house you will see many of the ‘mod cons’ that the Armstrongs and their guests enjoyed and their staff used, an early dishwasher, rotating spits, fitted sinks with hot running water and even central heating. The library houses four of the inventor Joseph Swan’s original incandescent lamps and the house shone with electric light, which was powered by Armstrong’s expertly integrated hydroelectricity system.
The gardens are just as impressive, enjoy the formal garden which covers three acres and lies over three levels and enjoys views to the South overlooking the Coquet Valley and the Simonside Hills. There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the formal garden and it includes the Orchard House, The Clock Tower and The Quatrefoil Pool although the centrepiece has to be the Italian Terrace.
Enjoy a stroll through The Pinetum which is made up of a collection of non-native coniferous trees all planted especially for their scale and size and is home to some of the tallest of their kind in the UK. Planted 160 years ago, the original trees still stand today and as you gaze upwards they create such a majestic feel and remember to keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels as you saunter. From the Pinetum a walk along the waterside brings you to iconic iron bridge and beyond that the Rock Garden, a rockery on a monumental scale that is filled with azaleas and rhododendrons. Cragside is renowned for it’s annual show of over a million rhododendrons and June is wonderful time of year to see this spectacle.
There are over 40 miles of footpaths at Cragside and there are some great walks and trails to help you navigate your way around, choose from The Armstrong Trail, The Gun Walk, Nelly’s Moss Lakes Walk or the Inspiration Walk, all the trails are downloadable on the National Trust website.
To fully appreciate the Armstrong’s creation then be sure to take the Carriage Drive which is a 6 mile route around the Estate with plenty of places to stop and admire the view or park up in one of the many car parks and explore on foot on one of the waymarked walks. Look out for caves, sculptures, the timber flume, boathouses and of course the wonderful wildlife that is resident in this beautiful part of Northumberland.
As you would come to expect from a National Trust property there are all the usual amenities and there are three eateries offering breakfast, lunch and plenty of cakes and bakes. Cragside is a full day out but please bear in mind that many of the paths are steep and can be rough in places so do wear appropriate footwear. Cragside is one of our favourite days out and we hope you love it as much as we do.
If you’re hoping to dine out during your stay with us then you will be hugely impressed at the wide range of quality eateries our local area offers. We have everything from small country pubs to Michelin Star restaurants and with everything in between ensuring every taste and pocket is catered for.
Vercelli is a lovely family run Italian restaurant and cocktail bar in the local town of Hexham. The whole Vercelli team will be sure you receive a warm welcome and best dining experience. Their head chef sources the finest Italian provisions along with local produce to provide high quality Italian dishes with a modern twist. Open 7 days a week with specials nights and live music evenings, Vercelli is a great place for a quick bit to eat or a relaxed dining experience. Vercelli can get booked up so be sure to book in advance, full details can be found on their website.
The Carts Bog Inn lies near the small village of Langley and is a 10 mile drive from St Oswald’s Farm and is well known throughout the region for it’s fine food, exceptional range of ales and it’s stunning panoramic views. It also offers extensive outside space and indoors you will find plenty of charm with beamed ceilings, log fires and lots of cosy places to sit enjoy the atmosphere of this family run inn. Please check their website as opening times can vary. If you’re a pie lover then our top tip is definitely to try their Bog Pie!!
Restaurant Hjem in the nearby village of Wall and only a 5 minute drive from St Oswald’s Farm is one of the two Michelin Star restaurants you will find in our local area. Swedish chef Alex Nietosvuori with his partner Ali bring the flavours and style of Scandinavia to the Tyne Valley with an ambitious tasting menu. The menu is created from ingredients sourced from the farms and gardens of the surrounding Northumberland countryside and is varies between 15-18 servings, some of which are small bites and some slighter larger dishes. All of their food is cooked with Scandinavian precision and techniques and can be complemented by either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage pairing. The restaurant gained it’s first Michelin star in 2021 and has gone on retain the status in 2022. If you wish to dine at Hjem, reservations open quarterly and are very quickly snapped up. Please see their website for full details.
The Barrasford Arms is a short 10 minute drive away and tucked away in the quiet village of Barrasford. A real country pub with a restaurant that offers traditional pub food but with every dish home made and elevated to the highest standard. They are proud to have a menu that uses produce which is locally sourced, be that from their own garden or from local suppliers. They hold specials nights and events with further details on these together with their opening times and menus available on their website.
The market town of Hexham is also home to the very lovely Danielle’s Bistro, it may be tucked away off the main street but it is a real gem. The restaurant offers fine Mediterranean and British cuisine and is traditional in every sense of the word and with set menus, lunchtime and early evening specials and an al a carte menu. Danielle’s is a long standing restaurant in Hexham with friendly staff and a quiet ambience for a relaxing lunch or evening meal. To see their menus pop onto their Facebook page.
On any visit to Northumberland you will find you are spoilt for choice when trying to decide where to eat, we’re always happy to give our recommendations and for more of our ideas of where to dine out please take a look at our blog post from last year which gives some more of our recommendations for dining out during your stay with us.
The remote and small village of Otterburn sits in Redesdale on the banks of the River Rede in some of the most stunning and picturesque countryside that lies within the Northumberland National Park. It may be small but Otterburn has a vibrant and thriving community and is home to a small selection of shops and pubs as well as the renowned Otterburn Mill.
The whole of the Redesdale Valley and Otterburn Ranges are a haven for wildlife as birds and animals are able to thrive in this remote landscape. Although nearly a quarter of the Northumberland National Park is owned by the Ministry of Defence and used as a military training area it is the shared aim of the Northumberland National Park and the MoD to encourage as much access to the area as possible. The area boasts amazing walking opportunities and you will encounter some of the most spectacular unspoilt landscapes and views that will simply take your breath away. There are walking routes both on and off the ranges but please note the walks on any part of the ranges are inaccessible when the red flags are flying, a guide to accessing the ranges can be found here.
The Percy Monument, also known as the Battle Stone, lies just north-west of the village. It commemorates the Battle of Otterburn which took place in 1388 and is named after the Percys of Northumberland who lost the battle against their arch enemies, the Douglases of Scotland. You can take a lovely walk up to the Percy Monument from Otterburn and take in the site of this iron age hill fort and this is walk 2 in the leaflet that can be downloaded below .
Otterburn Mill is a great stop, not only is it a former textile mill which boasts a rich heritage but you will also find a shop with a great range of outdoor and country clothing as well as textiles and tweeds. A small museum tells the story of the weaving trade that used to thrive here and the lovely cafe serves hearty lunches as well as light bites and some divine looking fresh cream cakes!
The car park at Otterburn Mill is a also a start and finish point for some of the walks that take you through the stunning surrounding countryside of the Rede Valley with plenty fauna to enjoy and you may even be lucky enough to spot an otter or two. You can download the self-guided walk leaflet here or you will find a copy in the cottage when you stay with us.
Northumberland is home to so many gorgeous little villages who can sometimes be overlooked by the larger towns and visitor attractions, but these villages often hold the key to a wealth of history and reveal some of the totally unspoilt beauty of Northumberland. Make sure you put some of them on your ‘must visit’ list.
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