Tag: rothbury

A National Trust Beauty – Cragside

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.

alt="Cragside House and rock garden"
Cragside House from The Pinetum (image B Wake)

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.

alt="Rhododedrons on the carriage drive at Cragside"
A riot of colour in the gardens and on the carriage drive

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.

alt="Nelly's Moss lake and picnic bench at Cragside"
Nelly’s Moss Lake

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.

Visit Rothbury

Northumberland boasts many lovely towns but none perhaps as remote and picturesque as the traditional market town of Rothbury which sits in the heart of the Coquet Valley and within the stunning Northumberland National Park. Both the town and the surrounding area are perfect for a day out enjoying rural Northumberland.

alt="Coquetdale hills with purple heather with Rothbury in the distance"
Rothbury tucked away in the distance in Coquetdale

Known as the ‘capital of Coquetdale’, Rothbury is a thriving market town with welcoming pubs, cafés, art and craft galleries and boasts a number of traditional independent shops along it’s quaint high street. There’s two car parks, loos, picnic area and if you fancy a stroll by the river then there’s a lovely riverside walk that takes you along the banks of the River Coquet.

Rothbury is fantastic place to access all types of walks so if you’re looking for something more a leisurely walk then the Simonside Hills must not be missed and as a Special Area of Conservation you may encounter wildlife such as the curlew, red grouse, mountain bumblebee, and even red squirrels and there are marked walking trails to keep you on the right path. Get to the top of the Simonside Ridge walk and you will enjoy a spectacular 360 degree view encompassing the Cheviot Hills and North Sea coastline.

The area surrounding Rothbury is full of surprises, and no more so than Lordenshaws which is just a short drive out of Rothbury and where you can take in the impressive remains of an Iron Age hillfort built 2,000 years ago. You will see burial mounds and intriguing cup and ring rock carvings that our ancestors left behind and in fact this site has one of the largest clusters of ancient cup and ring marked stones in the country.

Rothbury is also home to the wonderful Cragside House, Gardens & Estate which is a National Trust property not to be missed.

The house is a showcase of Victorian gadgets and inventions for efficient and modern living and witness for yourself how this grand Victorian mansion was powered by hydroelectricity and hydraulics. Outside is just as impressive and with around 1000 acres there’s a lot to enjoy, the Formal Garden, Pinetum, The Rock Garden, the Carriage Drive and the opportunity to discover more of the science and engineering behind how William Armstrong harnessed the force of water.

Whatever you’re looking to do during your stay in Northumberland, be it gardens or walking or shopping or history, the lovely market town of Rothbury offers it all.