Category: Northumberland

Autumn walks

Isn’t Autumn just the most glorious time of the year? Crunchy leaves, misty mornings, crispy air and with a myriad of colours sweeping over our trees, woodlands, gardens, hedgerows, fields and even across our skies. Autumn is definitely not the time to hibernate.

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Early morning at St Oswald’s Farm

Northumberland is renowned for its walks and trails right across the County from coast to country, from remote moorlands to river walks, Northumberland offers the very best in walking opportunities. For hardened walkers Autumn brings a new dimension to each walk with a kaleidoscope of colours to indulge in and for those who enjoy more of a gentle stroll there’s no better time than Autumn to breathe in the great outdoors. Whatever your walking level or experience we can guarantee Northumberland has a walk for you.

You don’t need to travel far from our back door to enjoy the River Tyne. One of Hexham’s nicest green spaces is Tyne Green and it is the most tranquil of places to enjoy, this long river walk at any time of the year is lovely but bathed in Autumn glory it’s nothing short of beautiful.

Further east, the River Tyne takes you to Wylam and to Hagg Bank which is dominated by an impressive single span arch bridge, this former railway bridge is now a footbridge only. The walk East, Keelman’s Way (cycle route 141), stretches from Wylam to Newburn and can be accessed from either end or you may wish to explore the river stretch from Prudhoe to Wylam taking in sights such as George Stephenson’s Cottage and Prudhoe Castle along the way. A copy of this handy guide of the walks along this river stretch is also available in the cottage.

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Hagg Bank at Wylam

The walks at Allen Banks & Staward Gorge are a must-see in Autumn. The gardens and woodlands are owned by the National Trust and are the largest area of ancient semi-natural woodland in Northumberland. This beautiful wooded gorge that follows the River Allen has many different walks to enjoy with miles of paths, most are signed, however some are fairly steep and in places can be a little uneven. Amongst this ancient and ornamental woodland not only will you discover wildife and fauna but also ancient monuments and perhaps even a summer house! Make sure to grab a map available from the car park to keep you on the right path. For current opening times and to check on any restrictions please check their website before visiting. Top tip – afterwards head to Bardon Mill Village Store & Tearoom for hot drinks, light lunches and cake!

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Allen Banks & Staward Gorge in Autumn

The Simonside Hills in Northumberland National Park are perhaps the most recognisable hills in the County and as the Autumn months approach they bring just an expanse of purple beauty across the heather moorland. There is a circular 7km walk to the summit and although the route across the woodlands and moor are classed as moderate it is oh so worth it. At the summit you will encounter 360 degree view and be able to take in the Cheviot Hills, Coquetdale and over to the North Sea coastline. You will find details of parking and route guidance on the National Park website.

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Simonside Hills

It’s hard to choose our favourite place to visit in Autumn, Gibside with its long tree lined avenue or the charm of Belsay Hall and the colours that appear across the gardens and surrounding woodlands at this time of year. Or perhaps our favourite is Cragside House & Gardens which despite the many evergreens amongst their 7 million trees they just seem to highlight and compliment the display of Autumn colours. Talkin’ Tarn is lovely for a gentle walk around a lake but then so is Bolam Lake and there’s Blanchland …if only Autumn lasted longer. There’s always next year when nature will do it for us all again!

Whatever or wherever you choose to walk during your Autumn stay we can guarantee you will ‘fall’ for the charm of Northumberland.

Heavenfield Cottage is the perfect base for all your Autumn days out and just perfect to return back to following a day in the great outdoors. With underfloor heating, a log burning stove, a deep double ended bath, walk-in rainforest shower, fluffy bathrobes, the biggest most comfortable bed with luxury bedding, oh and there’s even somewhere to dry your boots! Sound good? All our Autumn availability for this year and next year can be found here.

We look forward to welcoming you to St Oswald’s Farm.

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!

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.

Northumberland Coastal Path

The Northumberland Coast has to be one of the most stunning in the UK and with it’s own dedicated Coastal Path it couldn’t be easier to enjoy and offers some of the most spectacular walking in Europe.

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Northumberland Coastal Path – Image Gavin Duthie

As you would expect there are huge expanses of gorgeous sweeping beaches but the path takes you on a journey to discover so much more. Ancient castles, spectacular cliffs and rocky outcrops, wild sand dunes, secluded coves, friendly villages and fishing ports, a national nature reserve and the opportunity to take in the wildlife and bird life and undoubtedly has an unspoilt yet majestic beauty.

The 62 mile linear route through the Northumberland Coastal Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty runs from Cresswell in the South to the historic border town of Berwick Upon Tweed in the North. It is well signed and a mainly flat walk with only a few steep climbs giving you the opportunity to concentrate on the constantly changing landscape around you.

The whole route is broken into 6 stages with many of the stages taking in some of our Northumbrian highlights. Section one enjoys Druridge Bay, Hauxley Nature Reserve, views of Coquet Island before arriving in Warkworth, a picturesque village sitting in the shadow of its impressive Castle and Hermitage.

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Warkworth Castle

Section two visits Alnmouth and Boulmer before reaching Craster where an obligatory visit to the smokery is a must and perhaps refreshment at The Jolly Fisherman! Section three takes you past the dramatic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle and onto Embleton Bay and Low Newton which offer a haven for birdwatching & wildlife before the route continues on to the fishing port of Seahouses.

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The fishing village of Craster
Image Gavin Duthie

Section four takes you from Seahouses to Belford and section five from Belford to Fenwick both only a short 6-7 mile walk with the final leg of this magnificent walk taking you 12 miles to the border town of Berwick Upon Tweed.

The Coastal route isn’t just for those wishing to complete the whole walk, there is a bus service that enables you to enjoy shorter sections and there is a helpful video about the X18 Coast and Castles which services the route of the Northumberland Coastal Path between Amble and Berwick. It’s ideal if you’d like to enjoy short linear routes and return to your starting point.

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The impressive ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle

Also ideal for day visitors are the circular walking routes, choose from 4 miles routes from Craster to Howick Hall (famously the home of Earl Grey Tea) or Craster to Dunstanburgh. If you have a little longer to spend then there is a walk of just over 10 miles from Belford to St Cuthbert’s Cave which is reputed to be where the monks of Lindisfarne brought St. Cuthbert’s body to rest for a short period in AD875.

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Enjoy a cup of Earl Grey Tea at Howick Hall

To enjoy the circular trails it is well worth obtaining the trail leaflets from a local Tourist Information Point and the Northumberland Coastal Path Official Guidebook & Path Passport can both be purchased from Northern Heritage.

Northumberland has no end of fantastic walking opportunities, each one as unique and diverse as its neighbour. We hope that when you visit you get to enjoy some of our walks and the see the very best of our lovely County.

We’re always happy to recommend walks and days out to our guests and there are books and guides in the cottage to help you choose. For all details of our accommodation here at St Oswald’s Farm and our current availability please go to our website

We look forward to welcoming you here and sharing our walks and our magnificent coast with you!