Charming Villages – Allendale

Our villages may be less well known than our main visitor attractions and some may be small, but they are oh so perfectly formed with plenty of charm, character and they are ideal for a quieter and a more relaxed day out. A visit to any of the villages dotted around our remote countryside will offer the opportunity to see the affection with which these villages and hamlets are held and give you a glimpse into Northumbrian life as these small local communities go about their everyday lives.

The pretty stone built village of Allendale lies in the heart of The Allen Valleys in the breathtaking Northumberland AONB. The area is perfect for walking and enjoying the beautiful countryside, take in a stroll along the tranquil River Allen and relish in the sights of waterfalls, stunning moorland and the resident wildlife. The village itself is set around a Market Square with St Cuthbert’s Church tucked in one corner, country pubs, a tearoom and a small selection of shops including the very lovely The Allendale Forge Studios which is an Art and Media Visitor Centre where visitors can meet local artists, shop, enjoy exhibitions and workshops and enjoy delicious home-cooked food. If you’re a sci-fi lover this sleepy little village even boasts it’s own Sci-fi Museum with over 200 original props, costumes & artworks from classic SF film & television. Pack a picnic and head to the river for a relaxed lunch or The Square is perfect for sitting with a coffee and watching the world go by…but keep your eye out for daleks!

For a small and quiet village Allendale holds a few surprises and none more spectacular than the annual Allendale Tar Bar’l which is Northumberland’s New Year’s Eve ceremony that has been celebrated here since 1858. This weird and wonderful tradition involves forty-five local men (known as guisers) that carry whiskey barrels filled with burning hot tar in a procession through the town. The men dress in colourful fancy dress and have soot-blackened faces. Locals and visitors alike flock to the town for this night of revelry as music and dancing fill the small streets. At midnight, they arrive at the Bar’l fire in the centre of the village. The test of strength and courage ends in spectacular fashion as the guisers toss their barrels onto the ceremonial Bar’l bonfire to welcome in the new year as everyone shouts “Be damned to he who throws last!”

Allendale is a relaxed 30 minute drive from St Oswald’s Farm passing through the prettiest of scenery and if you happen to visit towards the end of August you’ll be met with a landscape of heather in full bloom. Northumberland holds so many hidden surprises for it’s visitors and the sleepy village of Allendale is no exception. Book now to enjoy all Northumberland has to offer, or perhaps book to stay with us for New Year 2023 to enjoy the most elaborate New Year celebration you may ever encounter, it really does have to be seen to be believed!

Exploring Corbridge

The nearby village of Corbridge offers a perfect mix of things to see and do, with an abundance of history, a fantastic mix of independent shops, a traditional market place with pretty church, a beautiful river walk, festivals and events, yet all the while retaining all the charm, character and friendliness of a smaller Northumberland village.

Corbridge was originally a busy Roman Town and now 2000 years later it describes itself as a destination of distinction, and we couldn’t agree more. The village centres around the Market Place where you will find the ancient, monastic Church of St Andrew’s which was founded over 1300 years ago and is one of the most important surviving Saxon monuments. Along with regular services the church is also host to some of the loveliest annual events such as a Flower Festival and hugely popular Christmas Tree Festival and is part of all the events taking place in the village throughout the year.

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St Andrew’s Church, Corbridge – image Ian Wylie

The Pele Tower also stands within the Market Place, with it’s unmistakable heritage, this three-storey defensive Pele Tower with one room to each storey was built in the churchyard in 1318 and used as the vicarage for the adjacent church. However following a contemporary yet sympathetic restoration, it is now a unique and quirky micro pub, it really has to be experienced to be believed.

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The Pele Tower by night- now a unique micro pub

Corbridge is a haven for those who love to browse and shop with a plethora of independent shops, Corbridge is truly what shopping local is all about and it’s one of our favourite places to shop. Each little shop holds a unique offer and you will be guaranteed a warm and friendly welcome. Corbridge holds a Christmas shopping evening each year to coincide with the Christmas Tree Festival and the village comes alive with stalls, carol singers, the most amazing shop windows displays and as you wander the small and tastefully decorated streets will you find every shop door open and be drawn in by the smell of mince pies and mulled wine. Corbridge knows how to do Christmas!

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The small streets and courtyards with lovely independent shops

There is plenty of free parking to the South of Corbridge and it’s just a short walk to village which takes you over the 17th century stone bridge, the oldest surviving bridge crossing the beautiful River Tyne. The bridge was the sole survivor of the destructive floods of 1771 and it has seen many floods since. There are lovely walks to enjoy in and around Corbridge and you can even download an app and choose a Heritage Trail which will take you on scenic and historic routes.

Half a mile to the west of the village is Corbridge Roman Town which unlike other Roman sites wasn’t a heavily guarded fortress but was a supply base and bustling town where the Romans and civilians would pick up food and provisions.

Managed by English Heritage, you can still walk through the town’s streets and experience a true time-capsule of Roman life. In the museum you can see the objects found during excavations, including ‘the Corbridge Hoard’. The Hoard was one of the most significant finds in Roman history, with armour and trinkets and providing a fascinating insight into the life of a Roman soldier.

Corbridge is only a short 10 minute drive from St Oswald’s Farm and with it’s huge choice of cafes, coffee shops, restaurants and pubs it is a perfect day out during your stay. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Holy Island

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Gorgeous Gardens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ice Cream

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

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Spoilt for choice at Wheelbirks (image Wheelbirks)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discovering Morpeth

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

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

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

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

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

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Bluebell Woods

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

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The Chantry Museum – Home of the Northumberland Pipes

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

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