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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Romantic Stays

If you’re looking for a romantic escape then look no further than Northumberland and a stay at St Oswald’s Farm. Heavenfield Cottage is designed with couples in mind and is the perfect destination for a cosy break just for two!

If you can imagine yourself cuddled up in a snuggle chair in front of a log burning stove, with cushions, throws, fairy lights above and the luxury of underfloor heating under your toes then look no further. Does the idea of an undisturbed bubbly soak in an extra deep double ended bath with soft candlelight and a bottle of your favourite fizz to hand sound good? Is the thought of wrapping up in a fluffy bathrobe before sinking into a huge super king bed with the finest Egyptian cotton bedding ensuring the most comfortable sleep your idea of Heaven?

Well we have just the place for you, it is called ‘Heavenfield Cottage’ after all!

Time away should be all about not having to rush and a lazy morning with a late and relaxed breakfast using the eggs provided by our own farm chickens. You’ll even be able to see ‘the girls’ clucking around and are within sight as you enjoy your leisurely brunch.

The quiet romance continues outside with the most beautiful walks and views right on the doorstep, we even provide a picnic rug and flasks and a guide map of the farm leading you to the best viewpoints. We can’t recommend highly enough a walk to ‘our favourite spot’ on the farm and if you can be there as the sun goes down, it is beyond magical.

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Huge views from St Oswald’s Farm

Heavenfield itself is a wildflower meadow and in late Spring and early summer is amass of wild flowers and grasses and tucked away in the middle of the field you will find the very pretty St Oswald’s Church, a little church only lit by candlelight and steeped in Northumbrian history and with the most impressive views. The church is only used for a few services each year including the occasional wedding and christening.

Further afield there are walks to waterfalls and there is probably nowhere more romantic than a stroll along the Northumberland coast. The stunning coastline is vast and you can almost be sure of finding your own little piece of solitude just for you.

If your romantic break is to celebrate a special birthday or anniversary we offer celebration packages which include a bouquet of local Northumbrian flowers and a gorgeous box of locally made chocolates which can be added to your stay, or if you have any requests to make your stay an extra special one, you only have to ask, we will be more than happy to try to help. We will happily arrange particular flowers, ice bucket, petals, balloons, banners, cakes, you name it and if we can, we will!

We look forward to ensuring your special time away is all you want it to be.

To book your romantic stay and to see all our prices and availability please click here.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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!

Stay on a farm

St Oswald’s Farm is where we live, its’s what we are and it’s what we do. But what is it like to stay on a farm, to be a guest here, to come and stay in a holiday cottage on an actual working farm?

A stay here is just what you would expect from a stay in a luxury holiday cottage, it’s welcoming, it’s relaxing, it’s ultra comfortable and it’s peaceful and most importantly it’s your special break from your everyday.

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Heavenfield Cottage

Heavenfield Cottage allows you to enjoy everything you want from your holiday, lazy mornings, day trips, visitor attractions, meals out, leisure time, long soaks and time to enjoy your book. However a stay on a farm perhaps also gives the opportunity to see the countryside in a unique way and take a glimpse into a way of life.

We have over 200 acres of ‘back garden’ to enjoy, there are stunning walks and views to die for without even leaving St Oswald’s. The scenery, the birds and the wildlife around us are fantastic and depending what time of year you visit you may be lucky enough to spot a curlew or lapwing, you may be here when the cotton grass is out or when our preserved hay meadow is in full bloom.

Any walk you take you will undoubtedly see our animals, John’s beloved sheep as they go about their daily business and during the Spring and Summer months you will see our lambs, hundreds of them as they play. You can admire our cattle grazing and visit the hens that provide you with your welcome hamper eggs! You can even collect some eggs if you wish..do just ask us.

You will see our dogs hard at work. Sky & Dot are an integral part of the day to day running of the farm and always keen to do their job. You may see them rounding up the sheep whilst out in the fields listening for John’s call, well almost always listening for John’s call. They are more than eager to please and they don’t care about the weather or the mud and can normally be found within a few yards of John! Although they have been known to wander off in search of a tummy tickle!

I don’t think anyone could stay here without seeing the beauty that living on a farm brings or the time and dedication that goes into farming, the love we have for our animals and for where we live. Our guests are able to see at first hand John’s comings and goings as he gets on with his everyday routine.

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Our ladies enjoying summer days

One of the questions John is most frequently asked is “do you get a day off”? The idea of a day off to John is odd, he doesn’t think about days off, and in answer to the question, no he doesn’t not unless we actually go away and manage to employ someone to look after everything on the farm.

John would however tell you that he does get the odd day off, but what he means is he gets up earlier to do all his work before he goes away for the day and then works late when he gets home to get everything done that needs to be done. That’s John’s idea of a day off! I’ll let you decide if you think he’s right.

January and February is calving time which brings guests the chance of seeing a newborn calf and during March and April a stay at St Oswald’s Farm will mean seeing lots of activity, you will undoubtedly see lambs born and can feed lambs if you would like to. It’s a busy time of year for us but we’re always more than happy to answer any questions that you may have and you are more than welcome in the lambing sheds. We love that people are interested to know about our way of life.

If you happen to be here at the start of July you might witness John shearing his own sheep, and there’s even the odd chance you might witness me wrapping fleeces, please feel free to have a go, the lanolin is great for your hands!

Of course the summer months are also about making silage and hay for the winter. The tractors, machinery, the mower, the baler, the wrapper are always great to see in action. In fact the distant sound of the bale wrapper in the fields is for me a real noise of summer and it always feels comforting to know that our fodder for the winter is being safely wrapped up for our stock.

Staying on a farm is without doubt a pleasure, it’s all a holiday should be with perhaps just a little added extra, a real experience of the countryside and a small yet real glimpse into farming life.

If you would like to experience a stay on a farm and enjoy the best of our countryside and all that Hadrian’s Wall has to offer, then we’d love to welcome you here. For all availability, prices and details of Heavenfield Cottage then please go to our website. Or if you’d like our monthly updates from life on the farm then we’d love if you signed up to our newsletter here.

We look forward to sharing St Oswald’s Farm with you!