Christmas in Northumberland

December may not be the obvious month to visit Northumberland but there are so many reasons to put England’s most Northern County on your Christmas go to list. Whether you’re looking for a pre Christmas break, a festive shopping trip, a place to relax and unwind or somewhere to spend a truly special Christmas or New Year then look no further.

St Oswald’s Farm is the perfect base to enjoy the wonderful Christmas markets and events that take place across the North East each year. Living North takes place each year in Newcastle which is a huge 4 day event and with others closer to home such as Brocksbushes Fair, the Tynedale Gift Fair and The Sill Christmas Fair to name just a few. The local town of Hexham holds it’s annual Christmas Market on the 2nd Saturday of December each year with over 50 seasonal stalls laden with gifts, locally produced food, festive wreaths and much more, all dotted around the historic Market Place and throughout Hexham Abbey. Enjoy mince pies, mulled wine and with carol singers and live music ensuring the event is all a Christmas market should be.

Corbridge Late Night Christmas Shopping evening and Christmas Tree Festival takes place at the end of November each year and is such a special event that the whole village participates in. St Andrew’s Church in the Market Place is packed with ‘trees’ from so many local groups, shops and organisations. As anyone who has visited Corbridge before will know the shop windows are always lovely and at this time of year they step it up to another league, there can be no better place to get into the Christmas spirit.

Of course Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be all about the markets and high streets, you could always opt to escape to the comfort of your own festive cottage and spend a day in your PJ’s in front of a log burner with a warming drink in one hand whilst the other hand shops online for the those perfect gifts. We’ll even supply you with a list of some of our local makers and businesses.

If shopping just isn’t your thing then the winter months are the perfect time for getting wrapped up and heading out for a walk in the beautiful Northumberland countryside and with the trees stripped of their summer foliage the views take on a whole new appearance. The winter landscape that stretches for miles and miles is stunning and if you catch them wearing a hoar frost then you’re in for a real treat.

If you’re looking to escape over the Christmas holidays then Heavenfield Cottage is the place for you with every luxury you’d come to expect from a 5 star property but yet with all the comforts of home so your Christmastime can be truly relaxing. You’ll arrive to find the cottage decorated and looking beautifully festive so all you need to do is unpack your bags, pop your presents under the tree and relax. On Christmas Eve there is even the opportunity to walk over Heavenfield to St Oswald’s Church for the 11.30pm candlelit service and let’s be honest you can’t get much more magical than that!

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St Oswald’s Church holds a candlelit Christmas Eve service (image Ian Wylie)

We offer a 7 night stay over Christmas so you can spend a whole week of leisurely days in front of the log burning stove, binge watch TV, indulge in a bookfest or take long soaks in the deep double ended bath before wrapping up in a fluffy bathrobe. Or if Christmas for you means getting outside we have that covered too with lovely walks from the doorstep and as evening falls with our amazing dark skies overhead there’s nothing nicer than simply heading out onto the patio and looking up for a star studded show.

Maybe it’s time to put the magic of Northumberland on your Christmas list!

More Dining Out

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.

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Vercelli in Hexham

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.

alt="Barrasford Arms front elevation and garden dine out"
The Barrasford Arms

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.

Charming Villages – Otterburn

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.

EV Charging

If you’re thinking of holidaying in Northumberland but are unsure as you have an electric vehicle then worry not. We’ve made sure that you can travel to Northumberland and enjoy a great holiday using your electric vehicle with total confidence when you stay with us here at St Oswald’s Farm. You can rest assured that you can charge your vehicle at any time, day or night as Heavenfield Cottage has it’s own dedicated Type 2 EV Charger right beside the cottage and within a short and easy reach of the parking area.

Unlike some holiday homes we don’t restrict you to specific charging times and the charger is for your sole use for the duration of your stay with us. We don’t charge an upfront payment and you will only pay for the electric that you use and we will always only charge you at our current standard tariff. The EV Charger has a meter attached to it which you are free to check, however for added convenience it is also linked to an App on our mobile phones which makes it really easy to calculate your electricity usage. At the end of your stay we will let you know what you have used and provide you with a detailed print out of the units used each day should you wish. Payment can just be made at the end of your stay by either cash or by card using our handy card reader.

Booking to use the charger during your stay is easy too, just tick the box on the form when you book online and that’s it, all you then have to do is remember to bring your own charging cable. There are also charge points located around Northumberland should you need to ‘top-up’ during your days out and locations of these points can be found here.

You will enjoy a great holiday in Northumberland with the reassurance of knowing you car is always fully charged and we’ll do the rest to ensure you go home from your stay fully recharged! We look forward to welcoming you and your car here very soon.

Perfect Picnics

Nothing says ‘holiday’ more than heading out into the great outdoors with a picnic, so whether you simply throw some crusty bread and cheese in your backpack or you carefully prepare a gourmet basket of goodies, you will find plenty of perfect picnic spots in Northumberland.

National Trust and English Heritage sites are always a great choice for an al fresco lunch with benches, picnic tables and grassy areas aplenty. At Wallington Hall throw down your picnic blanket in the grassy courtyard or saunter off along one of the many walks to find some dappled shade or sit and enjoy the peace and tranquility within the walled garden. A trip to Cragside offers a huge area in which to enjoy your perfect picnic with perhaps some of the best spots being as you navigate The Carriage Drive with lots of lakeside dining areas to choose from and some hidden in the beautiful woodland of the Cragside Estate.

alt="Cragside Nellys moss lake with picnic bench"
Nelly’s Moss – Cragside

A visit to our Northumbrian Market Towns are a great day trip and a picnic can make for a relaxing lunchtime pitstop. Hexham boasts the beautiful Abbey grounds which includes the pretty bowling green surrounded by seating where you can enjoy an outdoor lunch and if you’re lucky you may even be able to enjoy all the sights and sounds of an outdoor bowls match. Carlisle Park in Morpeth is another great destination for a a picnic lunch and this lovely market town also offers the opportunity to stroll along the banks of the River Wansbeck or even row, row, row your boat up the river.

As far as scenic picnic spots go there can be few better than the dramatic landscape of Hadrian’s Wall, so throw a picnic together and venture out to enjoy some of the wonderful walks this area provides, although with so many wonderful vistas to admire it can be hard to choose. A short 20 minute drive takes you to the very impressive Cawfields which is one of the best preserved stretches of the Wall and provides the opportunity enjoy your packed lunch by the lake or at the sheltered picnic site before burning off some of those calories and taking the scenic walk to Milecastle 42.

Kielder Water & Forest Park covers an area of hundreds of square miles so finding a secluded but picturesque place to picnic is easy. With large grassed areas, picnic tables dotted all over, designated picnic areas and miles and miles of wide open space Kielder is the perfect place to escape and just enjoy the quiet and the vastness of this remote part of Northumberland. The Visit Kielder website is packed full of information on everything that can be enjoyed at Kielder.

Fancy a picnic and a paddle? Well just pick a beach, any beach on the North East coast. All of our Northumberland beaches are heavenly, the whole of our coastline offers wide, sweeping beaches of golden sands that boast to be some of the quietest in the country, there are hidden coves, huge sea views together with pathways, rockpools and dunes, all perfect for a romantic picnic for two. Although I’m afraid we can’t guarantee you won’t get sand in your sandwiches!

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Bamburgh Beach

The beauty of a picnic means you can enjoy one anytime anywhere and you certainly don’t have to travel far to enjoy some open air dining when you stay at St Oswald’s Farm. We invite you to use our farm map and take a walk around our farmland and head to ‘our favourite spot’ on the farm. Brady’s Crag or The Bottom Crag as we call it, is the most perfect place to admire one of the best views from St Oswald’s and it’s a great place to enjoy an evening walk and witness our huge skies and spectacular Northumbrian sunsets. We provide a rug and a backpack in the cottage so all you need to do is chill a bottle of something lovely, grab some glasses and some tasty bites and take the 10 minute walk. We hope you are able to sit back and enjoy what we truly love about where we live.

A Day in Newcastle

If you fancy some city vibes then look no further than then iconic and very beautiful city of Newcastle Upon Tyne that lies just 20 miles from St Oswald’s Farm and is an easy drive or a short train journey along the Tyne Valley line from Hexham. This famous Geordie capital offers museums, theatres, historic sites, culture, shopping and all the buzz you would expect from a thriving city centre.

Newcastle sits on the River Tyne alongside it’s twin city Gateshead and was a major shipbuilding and manufacturing hub during the Industrial Revolution. Today, following a massive investment and regeneration programme, the Quayside only gives a hint to it’s once commercial dock and is now home to Gateshead Millennium Bridge, The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and The Sage music venue which provide a modern and cultural destination alongside the stylish restaurants, bars and clubs. Every Sunday the Quayside hosts an outdoor market that boasts a vibrant and varied showcase of quality goods and produce and with street artists and buskers that ensure a warm and friendly atmosphere.

The Quayside boasts seven bridges that link the cities of Newcastle and Gateshead which are a spectacular sight and impressive to see during the day and beautifully illuminated by night, the Quayside is undoubtedly the perfect place for a stroll or to sit back and enjoy a drink and watch the world go by.

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Newcastle Gateshead Quayside

Take a trip to Newcastle Castle, this imposing Norman fortress is steeped in history and is a rugged reminder of northern England’s turbulent past. The castle is where the story of Newcastle began and the reason it got its name, however this castle is no stately home and is a grim symbol of royal authority where armies gathered and criminals were imprisoned and executed. Take your camera to the top of the castle to capture spectacular views across the city and the River Tyne.

Newcastle Castle

As you would expect this spectacular city has a great offer when it comes to Museums and Galleries. The Laing Art Gallery offering world class art through it’s exhibitions and events, The Discovery Museum is all about science and local history and with permanent exhibitions such as the ship Turbinia. The Great North Hancock Museum is dedicated to natural history and ancient civilisations and the Centre of Life is a life science centre whose purpose is to inspire everyone to explore and enjoy science and undertakes groundbreaking research.

The Hancock Museum

A trip to any City would not be complete without some shopping and Newcastle is the perfect hub for some retail therapy. Northumberland Street in the city centre is home to all your high street favourites including John Lewis and Fenwicks but you will also find many smaller independents to browse. Head to The Grainger Market which is a busy vibrant indoor market that dates back to 1835 and a place where you can pick up absolutely anything and everything. Well ingrained in Newcastle’s history and heritage, the Grainger Market is actually a Grade I Listed Market, which retains much of the stunning light and airy architecture that was originally designed and is one of the few market halls in the UK that remain in use for its original purpose.

The Grainger Market

The architecture around the Quayside and the City Centre is second to none and a walk from the Quayside up Grey Street to Grey’s Monument takes in some of magnificent Georgian architecture and takes you past the wonderful Grade I listed Theatre Royal which is one of only 9 Grade I listed Theatre Halls in England and often regarded as the finest in the Country.

For more information on everything that’s to see and do in Newcastle & Gateshead please head over to their official tourist website.