Northumberland - Eating and sleeping


Savouring the tastes of Northumberland

oyster, Northumberland, UK by Moving Moment, ShutterstockLindisfarne Oysters are farmed in the waters surrounding Holy Island and sold in fishmongers throughout the region © Moving Moment, Shutterstock

Visitors to the region will be struck by how many restaurants, pubs and food stores have got behind the organic and local food revival. Many menus in good restaurants and cafés state the provenance of ingredients as standard practice; pubs serving regional ales are now too numerous to list; and I found plenty of B&B and hotel owners taking pride in serving local foods (look out for the Produced in Northumberland accreditation when booking accommodation). Northumberland boasts many of the best salmon and trout rivers in England, extensive game moors and working fishing communities, so it makes sense. Famous names you will undoubtedly come across on your travels include Craster Kippers, Lindisfarne Oysters, Pumphrey’s and Pilgrim’s coffees, Chain Bridge Honey, Doddington Dairy, the Northumberland Cheese Company, and Allendale and Wylam breweries.

For those self-catering, you’ll find thriving farmers’ markets in most large towns, excellent fishmongers and/or smokeries at North Shields Fish Quay, Craster and Seahouses, and farm shops like Blagdon near Ponteland. Recommended delis include the Corbridge Larder, the Good Life Shop in Wooler, and Tully’s of Rothbury. Dishes unique to the North East include pan haggerty (a filling potato and onion side dish) and singin’ hinny (a very filling kind of scone that ‘sings’ as it hits the bubbling butter on a griddle pan). Also look out for sandwiches made with stottie bread (flat, spongy and slightly sweet) that are fairly easy to find in take-away shops and cafés.

For our author’s selection of recommended places to eat see Slow Travel Northumberland: the Bradt Guide.  

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Accommodation

Below I’ve listed a range of some of the special B&Bs, campsites, bunkhouses and small hotels I visited while researching this guide. They were selected on the basis of how comfortable and clean they were with a preference for interesting or historic buildings, ‘green’ credentials and use of local produce. Some are listed as wheelchair accessible, meaning that the accommodation has step-free access into rooms and a wheelchair accessible bathroom but facilities vary so do check before booking. Where holiday cottage companies are listed as wheelchair accessible, only certain properties have wheelchair access.

No exact prices are stated (they change so frequently and often according to availability) so instead I’ve given an idea in relation to how they compare to others in the area. As a guide, I took £75 for a double room to be about average.

Newcastle, Gateshead & the North Tyneside coast 

Jesmond (a residential suburb of Newcastle and connected to Newcastle city centre by the Metro) is crammed with mid-range and budget B&Bs, particularly on Osborne Road, making this a popular choice with some visitors, but keep in mind that the bars below many of the hotels and guesthouses can be rowdy during university term times and at weekends.

Another affordable option is to hire a studio apartment with a kitchenette.

Kensington House Aparthotel (5 Osborne Rd, Jesmond, NE2 2AA; 0191 281 8175; kensingtonaparthotel.com) is more luxurious than your average suite. In Newcastle city centre, try one of the following:

Staybridge Suites (Buxton St, NE1 6NL) is among student flats near the quayside and Sleeperz Hotel (15 Westgate Rd, NE1 1SE) is a stone’s throw from Central Station. Both offer clean, contemporary rooms that are wheelchair accesible. Family rooms at Sleeperz cost little more than a hostel but if noise is a problem (rooms either overlook the railway or are on the street side where there are many bars), try Roomzzz (Clavering Pl, NE1 3NG), which is set back from the railway line on a quiet street. Ground floor suites have very high ceilings and are more spacious than upstairs.

Hotels

Hotel du Vin Allan House, City Rd, Newcastle NE1 2BE; www.hotelduvin.com. The sister hotel to Malmaison (www.malmaison.com) opposite the Millennium Bridge is similarly housed in a building with heritage appeal, in this case a former redbrick Victorian shipping company office. Rooms are not extortionate (expect to pay over £100 for a standard double) and are decorated to a high standard (contemporary with ‘feature’ walls, modern wooden furniture and roll top baths as standard). Hotel du Vin is a little out of the way at the head of the Ouseburn Valley (not far from the quayside) where there’s a good selection of alternative pubs, but you might want to stay put and sample the wines on offer here and enjoy a meal in the upmarket hotel restaurant. ‘Contemporary French dishes with a British twist’ is how the manager describes their food. Wheelchair accessible.

Jesmond Dene House Jesmond Dene Rd, Newcastle NE2 2EY; www.jesmonddenehouse.co.uk. One of Jesmond’s finest 19th-century mansion houses is now an upmarket hotel and restaurant that’s fairly reasonably priced (£120 plus) considering this is probably the best hotel in Newcastle in terms of the standard of rooms, restaurant and location. The house is set overlooking the wooded valley of Jesmond Dene (one of the most beautiful urban woodlands in the North East) and detached from the main residential area so it’s wonderfully peaceful. It may seem somewhat out of the way but it’s actually only a 15-minute walk to the nearest Metro (Ilford Road) and from there, the same time direct to the centre of Newcastle and Central Station. Rooms are stylish and furnished to a very high standard with decorative wallpapers and solid furniture. Arts and Crafts features throughout this historic building which has an impressive oak-panelled Great Hall. Wheelchair accessible.

B&Bs

Martineau House 57 Front St, Tynemouth NE30 4BX; www.martineau-house.co.uk. B&B right in the centre of Tynemouth and just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Metro in one direction and the priory in the other. Cosy rooms with a cottage touch, original features (fireplaces, sash windows, etc) and sea views, but not cheap at just under £100 for a double. Breakfasts made with local ingredients (Craster kippers, for example) and homemade organic bread.

Number 61 61 Front St, Tynemouth NE30 4BT; www.no61.co.uk. The décor is a little hit and miss but rooms are basically modern, clean and some have side sea views. The Collingwood suite is the most popular on account of the view (you can actually see the admiral’s statue at the mouth of the Tyne from the window) and sleigh bed. Rooms at the rear are quieter (beware of staying at the front on a Friday or Saturday night if you’re a light sleeper). Downstairs there’s a pleasant tea room, and a garden out the back.

Self-catering

Southcliff Apartments 4 Southcliff, Whitley Bay NE26 2PB; www.southcliffapartments.co.uk. Situated on an attractive Victorian pedestrian terrace with direct views across the North Sea and close to Cullercoats and Tynemouth is this homely large house with five self-catering apartments. Victorian rooms (modern with some patterned wallpapers and the odd antique) and original features (fireplaces, high ceilings, etc); average-prices; friendly welcome.

The Northumberland coast 

Hotels 

The Cookie Jar 12 Bailiffgate, Alnwick NE66 1LU; 01665 510465; cookiejaralnwick.com. This former convent, a short stroll from Alnwick Castle entrance, was recently converted into what is now considered to be one of the premier small hotels in the region. Indeed, the Sunday Times awarded it the ‘best place to stay in the North’ in 2018. Lavish, elegant furnishings and deep-blue walls and fabrics throughout place The Cookie Jar firmly in the category of designer boutique hotel; every armchair, cushion and wall decoration has been expertly placed by the hand of an interior designer. High prices for doubles (averaging around £200 per night) reflect the superior standard of comfort and extras. As for the restaurant, which has earned a very good local reputation, all the dishes are crafted using lots of local ingredients. One fully wheelchair-accessible room (Goswick).

Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel Embleton NE66 3UN; 01665 576111; dunstanburghcastlehotel.co.uk. With few hotels worthy of note in the area, the Dunstanburgh ranks as one of the better ones, owing to its location in a pleasant village set back from the shores of one of the finest beaches in Northumberland. The rooms, while not particularly distinctive, are modern, comfortable and clean. Vegetarians take note of the restaurant menu which features an array of non-meat dishes.

The Lord Crewe Hotel Front St, Bamburgh NE69 7BL; 01668 214243; lord-crewe.co.uk. Under the gaze of one of the most arresting coastal castles in England is this contemporary hotel and restaurant in the village centre with modern, average-priced rooms.

B&Bs

Bertram’s 19 Bridge St, Warkworth NE65 0XB; 01665 798070; bertrams.co.uk. One of the newest B&Bs in the centre of Warkworth doubles as a very popular café/restaurant, serving excellent breakfasts and lunches made with plenty of local ingredients sourced from along the coast. The rooms upstairs, while not huge, are freshly decorated (with floral feature walls and original artwork), modern and clean.

Budle Hall Bamburgh NE69 7AJ; 01668 214297; budlehall.com. One mile outside of the historic village of Bamburgh is this rather grand Georgian mansion set in wooded grounds with farmland views all around. Large oil paintings line the broad staircase and hallway, and antiques feature throughout the house. Upstairs, rooms are huge with high ceilings and traditional English-country-house décor. Breakfasts include local cuts of meat, fish and condiments and are served on one long dining table where guests sit together. This is no boutique hotel, however, and you’ll find prices are only just above average.

Courtyard Gardens 10 Prudhoe St, Alnwick NE66 1UW; 01665 603393; courtyardgarden-alnwick.com. Best for a romantic treat. The owners (who are antiques magpies) have transformed this Gold Award Georgian townhouse close to the centre of Alnwick into a period-style B&B. The two rooms at the top of a lofty stairwell are furnished with heavy, opulent fabrics and both have stripped floors and feature antiques. Price wise they are not that much more expensive than an average guesthouse, at around £90 for a double.

Fairfield House 16 Station Rd, Warkworth NE65 0XP; 01665 714455; fairfield-guesthouse.com. When friends ask me to recommend a special, traditionally styled place to stay on the coast, this grand Victorian house on a peaceful residential road and close to a pristine sandy beach is one that often comes to mind. Garden lovers will enjoy the well-kept grounds, framed by mature trees, and the delightful conservatory and terrace soaked in sunshine. Inside, the corridors and four rooms are spotless, and all have period details, solid furniture and luxury extras. For breakfast, you’ll find Craster kippers and Turnbull’s sausages of Bamburgh on the menu. Prices for this Gold Award guesthouse are only a little higher than average. For a long stay, you may want to consider the self-catering garden apartment.

Glororum Bamburgh NE69 7AW; 01668 214132; glororumbandb.co.uk. Expect a very friendly welcome from Susie on arrival at this highly recommended, large stone farmhouse B&B a mile outside of Bamburgh. The four rooms upstairs (around £100 for a double) are all immaculate, unfussy and have a freshness that comes with being well cared for and thoroughly cleaned. Foodies will have spotted the ‘Produced in Northumberland’ sticker in the entrance: the breakfasts (porridge served with cream and syrup, for example) are certainly worthy of note and include local ingredients and little extras that tell you this is a rather special, above-average B&B. Cyclists on the coastal route, which passes the driveway to Glororum, can use the secure cycle storage in the grounds.

Greycroft Croft Pl, Alnwick NE66 1XU; 01665 602127; greycroftalnwick.co.uk. Tucked away on a residential street close to Alnwick town centre is this exceptionally friendly, above-average-priced Gold Award B&B with six modern suites (each with a shower room) – all immaculate, uncluttered and pleasantly styled. A bright breakfast conservatory opens on to a walled garden, and there’s a cosy guest lounge where you can enjoy a complimentary glass of Lindisfarne mead. The breakfast menu is a fine spread with options for vegan and gluten-free diets. Eggs are served eight different ways, which should tell you this is no ordinary B&B; it ranks as one of the very best in Alnwick. No children under 14.

Northumberland Arms The Peth, West Thirston, Felton NE65 9EE; 01670 787370; northumberlandarms-felton.co.uk. Felton is not exactly on the tourist trail, but its location close to the A1 and coast, and quaint old-stone streets lining a wooded stretch of the River Coquet, ought to make this village a very attractive option for visitors (and those walking St Oswald’s Way long-distance trail). Its appeal is enhanced by the Northumbrian Arms which is instantly recognisable as an upmarket gastro pub. Suites are best described as contemporary with a subtle country-heritage theme. Professional interior decorators have clearly been at work here. For extras like bath robes, padded curtains, luxury furnishings and spacious bathrooms with centrally placed bath tubs, expect to pay above average prices (between £140 and £200 for a double). A sister hotel operates in Chatton, should you be heading into the national park.

The Old Post Office 32 Castle St, Warkworth NE65 0UL; 01665 711341/07828 485375; warkwortholdpostoffice.co.uk. Four snug, upstairs rooms in an 18th-century former post office on the main street. The best thing about staying here is the food – both breakfast and evening meals – which are all home-made by the owner. ‘Almost everything on your plate is locally produced’, she told me. Northumbrian griddle cakes with creamed goat’s cheese, honey and pancetta is one of her signature breakfast dishes. Book ahead for evening meals (Friday and Saturday nights only) as everyone in the village knows the food here is probably the best in town and there are only eight tables. Prices are a little above average.

The Old Rectory Howick Howick NE66 3LE; 01665 577590; oldrectoryhowick.co.uk. Dating to the mid 18th century, this secluded, detached B&B, a short stroll from the coastal path and some of the finest sands in Northumberland, is also ideally situated for visiting Howick Hall gardens. There is country-house décor throughout the five rooms. Top Northumbrian breakfast and friendly hosts.

Ravenslaw House South Rd, Alnwick NE66 2NZ; 07826 909742; ravenslawhouse.com. The former home of Victorian fishing legend William Hardy is now an opulently styled – and imposing – guesthouse, a short walk from Alnwick town centre. Period features throughout, four-poster beds in every room and plush furnishings make this luxury (and therefore pricey) accommodation an appealing romantic getaway. No children.

Redfoot Lea Alnwick. Since the guide went to print, this B&B has now closed.

Red Lion 22 Northumberland St, Alnmouth NE66 2RJ; 01665 830584; redlionalnmouth.com. Clean, modern rooms above a cosy freehouse inn on Alnmouth’s main street. The pub serves very good dinners and has a large garden with river views. Prices are above average.

Roxbro House 5 Castle Terrace, Warkworth NE65 0UP; 01665 711416; roxbrohouse.co.uk. Crouching below Warkworth Castle at the entrance to the village is this extra-special B&B in a large, stone-built house dating to the late 19th century. This is one of the most characterful and luxury B&Bs in the area, but it’s not outrageously expensive to stay here (around £130 a night for a double). Inside, the fires burn even in August to welcome guests coming in from the rain-soaked streets. Thick, opulent fabrics in deep reds compliment the antique wooden furniture. Suites are similarly decorated, with heritage fabrics and polished antiques. Guests can enjoy one of two cosy front rooms. The breakfast room is immaculately laid out with gleaming linen and bone china, from which to enjoy local bread and kippers from Craster.

St Aidans Hotel 1 St Aidan’s, Seahouses NE68 7SR; 01665 720355; staidanhotel.co.uk. Fresh, modern rooms in an above-average-priced B&B facing the sea, with views of Bamburgh Castle. Located on the edge of Seahouses, so quieter than in the town centre. There’s also a good restaurant with plenty to satisfy seafood lovers.

St Cuthbert’s House 192 Main St, Seahouses NE68 7UB; 01665 720456; stcuthbertshouse.com. Light sleepers take note of the deep full-length blackout curtains and plush sprung mattresses (no expense spared here) in this exceptionally comfortable B&B on the outskirts of Seahouses – a former chapel. Make sure you book in advance, however, as many seasoned visitors to the coast know that this is one of the very best places to stay and has twice been awarded the best B&B in England. Prices are above average (£140 for a double) but the standard of accommodation is far higher than most. For breakfast, the friendly owners go that extra mile to ensure that almost everything on your plate is sourced locally, including fish from the smokehouse down the road and homemade marmalade. Wheelchair accessible.

St Valery 27 Northumberland St, Alnmouth NE66 2RA; 01665 833123; stvaleryalnmouth.com. King-sized beds come as standard in this sophisticated B&B on Alnmouth’s main street. Original fireplaces and patterned rugs over wooden floors offset the modern furnishings beautifully. This was one of the cleanest B&Bs I visited on my travels.

The Sunningdale 21–3 Lucker Rd, Bamburgh NE69 7BS; 01668 214334; sunningdale-hotel.com. Straight-forward, mid-range B&B (doubles £90–£120) at the top of the village with spacious family rooms and wheelchair-accessible suites.

Self-catering

Reputable holiday cottage companies in the area include Grace Darling HolidaysCoastal Retreats Northumberland, Coquet Cottages and Outchester and Ross Farm Cottages, near Waren Mill (all with wheelchairaccessible options). Also consider the four- and five-star holiday cottages on Springhill Farm ( springhill-farm.co.uk) near Seahouses.

Hunting Hall Beal (near Lindisfarne) TD15 2TP; 01289 388652; huntinghall.co.uk. I was greeted by three geese upon arriving at this large 18th-century farm a short drive from Lindisfarne. For families looking for a countryside base with lots of free space for children to run around in and farm animals to visit, Hunting Hall’s two average-priced holiday cottages are ideal. There’s also a ford where children can go ‘fishing’. Historically, the collection of farm buildings are very interesting and include an old smithy and unusual hen house with niches in the stone work. The two Gold Award cottages – and modern shepherd’s hut in a meadow – are very nicely decorated. They’re homely with a country touch (floral fabrics, pine furniture, the odd exposed stone wall, etc), the kitchens are very well equipped and both cottages have direct access to pretty gardens. Wood-burning fires and feather duvets ensure guests stay warm. The owners are committed environmentalists and strive to make the buildings eco-friendly (with solar panels, green paints and organic bed linen). At the end of the stay, a record is made of how much electricity your party used and the group that used the least over the year wins a prize. A welcome hamper includes homemade bread, local honey and rare-breed sausages from the farm.

Lindisfarne Bay Cottages West of Fenwick on the shores of Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve (NNR); 07565 891795; lindisfarnebaycottages.co.uk. The Mill House is a gem of a holiday cottage with expansive views across the bird-filled saltmarshes to Lindisfarne island. I stayed here a few years ago and could have spent most of the morning watching huge flocks of wading birds feeding and taking to the air – all from the window of this exceptional cottage (feather duvets, heavy curtains, original artworks, the odd antique and a kitchen better equipped than most homes) with four rooms. Waking up to the sound of the wind in the trees and curlews and geese flying overhead was a wonderfully soothing start to the day. Birdwatchers or those looking for a tranquil escape will love it here. It’s not cheap (expect to pay close to £2,000 a week in the high season) but the accommodation is superb. Wheelchair accessible.

North Farm Cottages Embleton NE66 3DX; 07775 000039; northfarmcottages.co.uk. Set in farmland a short walk from the pleasant village of Embleton (and with direct access to one of Northumberland’s finest bays by following a footpath across a few fields) is this collection of ten stone self-catering cottages and four apartments created from old farm buildings. Inside they are all modern and spacious and cater well for families with a playground and new indoor swimming pool on site. Expect to pay above average prices. Some cottages are wheelchair accessible.

Rock Mill Holiday Homes Rock Mill Farm, near Embleton NE66 3HA; 01665 579218; rockmillholidayhomes.co.uk. With farmland views all around, families will love these three stone cottages between Alnwick and Embleton (three miles from the beach). Rock Mill Cottage has a country-farmhouse interior whereas Croft Cottage and Newton Retreat are more modern. It costs much less to stay here than for similarly appointed cottages closer to the sea, with prices starting below £500 for a week

Springhill Farm near Seahouses (see below)

Waterside Cottages Waterside, Alnmouth NE66 3QL; 07801 447482; watersidealnmouth.co.uk Within ten minutes’ walk of gorgeously soft sands (South Beach) and with direct views over Alnmouth estuary (from Estuary View and Beach View cottages) is this run of three modern self-catering cottages. To reach Alnmouth, which is on the other side of the estuary, you need to either cycle along the coast path or drive (five minutes). Wheelchair accessible.

Campsites, wigwams & bunkhouses

Considering how many beautiful bays are cut into Northumberland’s shores, you’d think that somewhere there would be a secluded, independent campsite with a divine view of the sea, but there’s not really, except at Cresswell (see Calico Barn), and camping in the sensitive dunes is forbidden. If you are a member of the Camping and Caravanning Club there are a few options within easy reach of a beach including Annstead Farm (see below) between Beadnell and Seahouses. Non-members wishing to camp hereabouts should try Beadnell Bay Camping and Caravanning Club Site (see below).

Annstead Farm Beadnell NE67 5BT; 01665 720387; annsteadfarm.co.uk. This working arable and livestock farm close to the coast between Beadnell and Seahouses operates two small camping/caravan areas, including one for adults only in an enclosed garden; the other is a simple grassy site more suitable for families but without play areas. Holiday cottages are also available to rent.

The Barn at Beal Beal Farm, near Lindisfarne, Berwick-upon-Tweed TD15 2PB; 01289 540044; barnatbeal.com. Not somewhere you’d come for a camping holiday but a very useful place to pitch up for a night if travelling along the coast, situated as it is within easy reach of the A1 and Lindisfarne. The site itself is a small, grassy area next to the car park of a very good bistro with glorious views of Lindisfarne island and its castle. Open all year round.

Beadnell Bay Camping and Caravanning Club Site Beadnell NE67 5BX; 01665 720586; campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/beadnellbay. The coast road prevents a hop, skip and jump into the sea, but this is one of the closest sites to a beautiful sandy bay in the region. It’s quite exposed – just a large, flat grassy site in farmland – so bring sturdy tent pegs! Non-members pay an additional fee.

Calico Barn & Hemscott Hill Farm camping Cresswell/Druridge Bay NE61 5EQ; 01670 458118; hemscotthill.com. Probably the best, low-key campsite on the Northumberland coast. The friendly owner only takes a handful of campers at a time to allow for a huge amount of space between pitches. You can also hire a beach cabin which sleeps two to four people. But the reason you will really want to stay here is for the direct access to a glorious sandy bay, reached in a few paces by crossing the dunes. Over the road in the other direction is a large cow shed – now a cavernous bar where drinkers sit on hay bales covered in throws. Also here is a bunkhouse which sleeps 18 in five rooms. Bunks made from old scaffolding boards have been recycled to good effect and are very comfortable, with soft duvets and helpful extras like mobile-phone USB points next to every bed. The communal area is really like a very good guest-house lounge with a wood burner, sofa and well-equipped, clean kitchen.

Joiners Shop Bunkhouse Chathill NE67 5ES; 01665 589245/07745 373729; bunkhousenorthumberland.co.uk. Shabby (in a good way) old stone building close to Preston Tower and four miles from the sea; cheap and great for groups of muddy walkers (though open to lone travellers, too). Large dining table, curtained-off bunk beds and cosy living room with an open fire and slouchy sofas.

Pot-a-Doodle Do Wigwam Village Borewell, Scremerston, Berwick-upon-Tweed TD15 2RJ; 01289 307107; potadoodledo.com. Aimed primarily at families with plenty to keep children happy including pottery painting and an outdoor playground. The beach is also close by. Pine wigwam-style huts (and three yurts) are snug and basic (you’ll need to bring all your own bedding) but they do come equipped with outdoor fire pits and picnic benches. There’s a shop and licensed bistro on site and a communal kitchen.

Proctor’s Stead Dunstan, near Craster NE66 3TF; 01665 576613; proctorsstead.co.uk. Set back a mile from the sea in a fairly sheltered farmland spot and close to the popular fishing village of Craster; open to touring caravans only.

Springhill Farm West of Seahouses NE68 7UR; 01665 721820; springhill-farm.co.uk. Springhill Farm offers a range of accommodation including a number of very good holiday cottages, a modern bunkhouse, pine wigwams and grassy pitches for tents and caravans – all located in farmland half a mile from the coast and in sight of the sea.

Tewart Arms Cottage Camping & Caravan Site near Chathill NE67 5JP; 01665 589286. Rustic campsite (read: basic, quiet and small) for tents and caravans, four miles west of Seahouses and close to the station with connections to Berwick and Newcastle.

Berwick, The Tweed and Glendale

Hotels

Collingwood Arms Main St, Cornhill-on-Tweed TD12 4UH; 01890 882424; collingwoodarms.com. Note the words ‘Post Horses’ above the entrance of this large Georgian hotel on the Scottish border: a throwback to when the Collingwood served as a calling point for cross-border coaches. Today it’s a fairly plush country inn above the River Tweed, popular with sporting types and overnight visitors travelling to and from Scotland. Inside, heritage fabrics and the odd oil painting and antique give a sophisticated edge for which guests pay above-average prices of around £150 for doubles. Bedrooms are named after ships under the command of Admiral Collingwood during the Battle of Trafalgar. The hotel’s restaurant is very good too, and there’s a sunny courtyard and garden to the rear. Wheelchair accessible.

B&Bs

The Anchorage 35 Woolmarket, Berwick-upon-Tweed TD15 1DH; 01289 302424; theanchorageat35.co.uk. On entering this large Georgian townhouse on a quiet residential street, it may occur to you that the wide, stone-flagged corridor looks more like an outside passageway. Sandra, the owner, who is very knowledgeable about Berwick’s history, told me it was once used to walk horses through the building and into the back garden. The rest of the house is surprisingly grand with an elegant winding central staircase that you will need to climb to access one of the two rooms at the top. After 47 steps you will be pleased to find your modern en suite is clean and decorated to a good standard (nothing flash). Breakfast is served downstairs in a cheerful farmhouse-style kitchen at one communal table. Prices are below average.

Chatton Park House Chatton NE66 5RA; 01668 215507; chattonpark.com. In the evenings the driveway to this swish Georgian country house set in generous landscaped gardens is lined with lights giving the appearance of an upmarket hotel the moment you turn off the main road. You will be greeted at the front door by Michelle who is the perfect host: helpful, friendly and discreet. For above-average prices (though not extortionate), expect quality furnishings (heavy curtains, leather armchairs, super king-sized beds) and a view of tranquil parkland from your (high-ceilinged) room. On cold nights sit by the wood fire in the living room listening to jazz and sipping an aperitif before heading out for dinner. Breakfasts here are up there with the very best in Northumberland with local kippers, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on the menu alongside classic full English and continental offerings. There’s also a small luxury holiday cottage in the grounds. Adults only.

Loaf B&B Mount Pleasant Cottage, near Berwick/Horncliffe TD15 2XQ; 01289 308751; loafbnb.co.uk. The three rooms in this pleasant vegan B&B in farmland not far from Berwick are priced above average, perhaps owing to the breakfasts which are a feast of vegan delights: a full cooked option with homemade sausages and butterbean patties or scrambled tofu, oat smoothies, homemade pancakes and pain au chocolate.

The Old Manse Chatton; 01668 215712; oldmansechatton.co.uk. Northumberland B&B of the year (at the time of writing) and Gold Award accredited with spacious rooms, pleasant décor, gardens with a view of Chatton’s hills and a very friendly welcome by Ian and Mary. Local meats and homemade sausages, baked beans and Northumbrian ‘floddies’ should tell you that breakfast at this detached house on the main through road in Chatton are some of the very best in the region, hence the ‘Produced in Northumberland’ stamp of approval. Chatton is a small, quiet village on the edge of Northumberland National Park with an upmarket pub and good walks nearby.

The Percy Arms Main Rd, Chatton NE66 5PS; 01668 215244; percyarmschatton.co.uk Neal’s Yard toiletries, bath robes and real coffee in your room shouts ‘upmarket inn’. Located right in the centre of Chatton, the sister hotel to the Northumberland Arms in Felton, is a good base for trips to the national park and coast (both around 20 minutes’ drive in opposite directions) or even for an overnight stay if travelling on the A1 (10 minutes away). There’s little going on in the village itself, but it is very pleasantly situated in lush countryside and also within easy reach of nearby attractions such as Chillingham Castle (six minutes’ drive away). Rooms are top end: roll top baths, sumptuous curtains and bed linen with a heritage touch. The restaurant downstairs comes highly recommended.

The Walls B&B 8 Quay Walls, Berwick-upon-Tweed TD15 1HB; 01289 330233; thewallsberwick.com. Of all the B&Bs I visited in Berwick, The Walls impressed me the most. It’s a large Georgian townhouse built on the Elizabethan walls encircling the town and with super river views. Louise is very welcoming and takes pride in providing exceptionally comfortable rooms (refurbished in 2019 to a high standard, hence the above-average prices) and a great breakfast with plenty of regional offerings (smoked haddock on stottie bread and Craster kippers, for example). Wheelchair accessible.

Bunkhouses

Chatton Park Bunkhouse Chatton NE66 5RA; 01668215247; chattonparkfarm.co.uk. Cheap accommodation (around £12 per night) in one of two dorms (each sleeping six) in converted stone barns not far from the village of Chatton. Note the original forge in the communal dining room and bicycle storage. The bunkhouse stands in pleasant farmland on the edge of the national park where hens roam freely in 20 acres of grassland producing eggs for businesses throughout Northumberland – and for those staying in the bunkhouse. Incidentally, you will see ‘R.Ord & Hens’ eggs on breakfast menus in many bistros and B&Bs in Northumberland.

Northumberland National Park and Kielder Forest

Hotel

Le Petit Château Otterburn NE19 1NR; 01830 570 400; le-petit-chateau.com. Lavishly furnished rooms with copper roll-top baths, ornately carved bed frames, highly decorative repro plasterwork, dark walls and a whiff of the Palace of Versailles circa 1680 (minus the gold). Expect to pay top-end B&B prices for rooms as fancy as this which are aimed squarely at the honeymoon/couples market. The gastro-pub restaurant downstairs has a good reputation.

B&Bs

Allerhope House Guest House Rothbury NE65 7NT; 01669 838 020; allerhopehouse.co.uk. Owners Chris and Sue go that extra bit further to make sure everything in this charming mid-range Edwardian guesthouse on the edge of the town centre is just right: it is immaculately clean, bright and modern with plenty of wooden and cream-painted vintage furniture. Bathrobes, goose-down duvets, sturdy king-size sleigh beds and blackout blinds in every room help to put Allerhope firmly up there with the best guesthouse accommodation in the national park. Much effort is put into sourcing local produce and you’ll find Rothbury sausages and bacon on your breakfast plate, as well as local eggs. Chris and Sue are very attentive to those with special dietary needs and will source gluten-free food, for example, on request.

The Hemmel near Wooler NE71 6AQ; 01668 281168; thehemmelwooler.co.uk. Housed in a converted stone cow shed on the outskirts of Wooler is this good, budget B&B popular with walkers and cyclists. The rooms, while not particularly spacious or high spec, are comfortable and clean; the dining area is very pleasant and was refurbished in recent years. Low-lying hills frame the fields and paddocks outside where you may be greeted by shire horses.

Hillcrest House High St, Rothbury NE65 7TL; 01669 621944; hillcrestbandb.co.uk. Double-fronted Georgian guesthouse in the centre of Rothbury with two spacious rooms at the top of the house featuring wooden floors, exposed beams and stone ‘feature’ walls. Both rooms are clean and pleasantly decorated with the odd antique, but otherwise furniture and decorative items are kept to a minimum. Vegetarian-only breakfasts served in a bright downstairs dining room; Prices are about average for the standard of accommodation and location.

Ingram House Ingram, Breamish Valley NE66 4LT; 01665 578906; ingram-house.com. At the gateway to Breamish Valley is this large 18th-century stone house enclosed on all sides by flower-filled gardens. Inside, the décor has much country appeal with floral furnishings and many antiques. The bed in the double room (the other is a twin) dates to the time of King Henry VIII. Enjoy fresh, Northumbrian water straight from the hills. The friendly owners will cook dinner for guests on request. They also host stargazing events.

The Old Court House 17 Church St, Wooler NE71 6DA; 01668 283061; theoldcourthousewooler.co.uk. This is the only B&B I visited in Wooler that I felt very happy to recommend. Once a Victorian courthouse, the austere building has been restructured into four en suites (the family room – formally the court room – is particularly spacious), all of which are neutrally decorated to a high standard in muted Farrow and Ball-esque brown-grey and off-white. Prices are surprisingly below average for the standard of accommodation at around £80 for a double. Bicycle storage.

The Pheasant Inn Stannersburn (near Kielder) NE48 1DD; 01434 240382; thepheasantinn.com. Good, traditional comfort, though not posh, in suites set away from the restaurant and bars around a garden courtyard. Slightly above-average prices. What will really enhance your stay is the superb food served in the 400-year-old inn and the easy access to Kielder.

Ravenscleugh B&B Elsdon NE19 1BW; 01830 520896; ravenscleugh.com. Muddy walkers, cyclists, families, dogs and travellers on horseback are all welcome at this 17th-century farmhouse on a working rare-breeds farm just outside of the historic village of Elsdon (and close to St Oswalds Way and the Pennine Cycleway). The farm has bags of history (the owners believe Capability Brown was born here) and it is a great place to stay for families touring the national park and also looking for activities on the doorstep (wild swimming in the farm’s private lake, stargazing, meeting the farm animals, etc). There are four traditionally furnished rooms as well as self-catering and camping options.

Tosson Tower Farm Great Tosson, near Rothbury NE65 7NW; 01669 620228; tossontowerfarm.com. Friendly former drovers’ inn dating to the 18th century on a working farm, offering slightly above-average-priced B&B accommodation and good-value self-catering cottages in converted farm buildings. The Simonside Hills loom above the pretty collection of stone buildings in the hamlet, which is a short drive or uphill cycle ride on the other side of the Coquet Valley from Rothbury. The ruins of a medieval pele tower, from which the hamlet gets its name, stands opposite the farmhouse. The six B&B rooms are very clean and furnished in a farmhouse style, with modern wooden furniture and the odd antique. Enjoy expansive valley views from your breakfast table as you tuck into Craster kippers. This is a great base for walkers (hike to the top of Simonside straight from the front door).

Self-catering

Brinkburn Lodge Cottages Brinkburn (five miles from Rothbury) NE65 8AR; 01665 570 870; brinkburnnorthumberland.com. Within the tranquil Brinkburn estate and a short stroll down a lane to a wondrous 12-century priory is a terrace of four charming cottages with flower-filled gardens which once provided accommodation for the ground keepers on the estate. A further two cottages (part of the old manor stables) face the river and priory. Inside, they are modern and rather smartly decorated with vintage and antique furniture making each feel distinctive as well as homely. Priory Cottage is wheelchair accessible.

Cheviot Holiday Cottages Ingram NE66 4LT; 01665 578236; cheviotholidaycottages.co.uk. The setting of these Gold Award cottages at the foot of Breamish Valley couldn’t be more tranquil, with a medieval church to the rear and farmland to the front. Most cottages sleep two or four people and are arranged around a courtyard (great for large family gatherings). They are extremely well-fitted out and equipped (hence the above-average prices) and decorated in a contemporary farmhouse style (wooden furniture painted shades of grey, cream and duck-egg blue, exposed beams, range cookers, wood-burning stoves). The most luxurious cottage comes with a small indoor swimming pool. The River Breamish flows past the hamlet; Linhope Spout is a short car or bike ride away, or you can start hill walks from the front door. Wheelchair access in Gate Lodge.

College Valley Estates Cottages Hethpool, College Valley; 01668 216343; college-valley.co.uk. If you really want to get away from it all, these holiday cottages dotted around College Valley should be on your shortlist – particularly Dunsdale which is wonderfully remote. All four (average-priced) cottages are furnished to a good standard (contemporary, farmhouse styling with solid pine furniture and wood-burning stoves/fires). The biggest draw is the location, with some of the best hill walks in Northumberland straight from the door. Dunsdale (sleeps eight) is tucked away along the Lambden Burn under heather hills and crags. Hethpool Mill, at the entrance to the valley in a hamlet and on St Cuthbert’s Way long-distance path, is the most accessible and one of the best appointed with a large kitchen. Southern Knowe (a former school house, though you’d never guess) is more basic than the others and is situated on a farm quite far into the valley. Light sleepers be warned that you may be woken early by animals!

Greystead Holiday Cottages Tarset, near Kielder NE48 1LE; 01434 240244; greysteadholidaycottages.com. On the approach road to Kielder Water at the head of the North Tyne Valley you’ll find two luxury Gold Award cottages with bags of character: one housed in a converted Victorian church (sleeps eight), the other in an old coach house (sleeps six). Internally, both are a very stylish mix of the modern, accented with the odd vintage piece of furniture, decorative antique and original features including stained-glass windows. Both have extremely generous outdoor gardens which include access to a tennis court. Expect to pay above-average prices, although neither cottage is extortionate given the quality and size of the accommodation.

Hesleyside Huts near Kielder NE48 2LA; 01434 220068; hesleysidehuts.co.uk. The approach to these five luxury shepherd’s huts is quite lovely: first along quiet lanes flanked by flower meadows and then through a copse on a secluded track. An opening through the trees reveals the magnificent Hesleyside Hall (providing luxury B&B accommodation, incidentally, in case glamping turns out not to be for you!). The huts are all modern with wood-burning stoves, bathrooms (with flushable toilets) and quality natural bedding. Holly Hut is extremely indulgent with a copper roll-top bath. Bramble stands alone in a field and would suit a family.

Lodges

A few holiday providers have timber lodges for hire around the reservoir including:

Calvert Kielder/Calvert Trust Lodges Kielder NE48 1BS; calvert-trust.org.uk/kielder (book through hoseasons.co.uk or call Calvert Kielder on 01434 250 232). Close to the Bull Crag Peninsula, this charity lets out lodges, some of which are hugely spacious and have a luxury finish; others are basic pine cabins. Set around the Trust’s activity centre, all lodges are fully accessible to those in wheelchairs. Prices are comparable to other lodge accommodation at Kielder. Also see Sky Den (below).

Clear Sky Lodges Ravenshill Forest, Kielder NE48 1EL; 01434 250251; clearskylodgekielder.co.uk. With views across Kielder’s forest on a tranquil hillside (yet under 1km from Kielder Castle and village), these modern, pleasantly furnished timber lodges (some with hot tubs), offer an alternative to the ones at Kielder Waterside and the Calvert Trust. It’s a family-run site and prices are a little lower than elsewhere in the Kielder area.

Kielder Waterside lodges Kielder NE48 1BT; 01434 251000; kielderwaterside.com. Aimed at families, these lodges dotted around the popular Kielder Waterside area where there’s a pub, shop and various attractions, are furnished to a high standard (some of the luxury huts have extras like underfloor heating, bathrobes and stargazing ‘pods’) but they are not cheap. Some have wheelchair access.

Sky Den Kielder NE48 1BS; canopyandstars.co.uk or call the Calvert Trust in Kielder on 01434 250232. Designed by TV’s George Clarke, this ingenious small hut built above a wooded ravine sleeps four and is full of imaginative uses of space; most impressive is the eye-catching triangular bedroom that also doubles as a platform for stargazing when you open two side walls to reveal the night sky. This is a novel place to stay, costing upwards of £160 per night, so make sure you book far in advance. Accessible to those with limited mobility, but keep in mind that space is tight so wheelchair users may find it difficult to manoeuvre.

Camping, bothies and bunkhouses

Barrowburn Camping Barn, Deer Hut & Tent Camping Barrowburn, near Alwinton (Upper Coquetdale) NE65 7BP; 01669 650059; barrowburnfarm.com. Walkers seeking a remote place to stay in the Cheviot Hills will love it here on the side of Shillhope Law, with glorious views of flower meadows and buxom hills. The camping barn sleeps 17 and can be booked out in its entirety. It costs about the same as a budget youth hostel, but you’ll need to bring everything bar the kitchen sink (including bedding, a camping mat and matches for the coal fire). The late-19th-century building was once a school for shepherds’ children. The green timber-clad building next door (the Deer Hut) is a basic holiday cottage, again, charging little more than youth-hostel prices. You can camp nearby (tents only) where there’s a toilet and fire pit and that’s it.

The Boe Rigg Charlton, a couple of miles east of Bellingham NE48 1PE; 01434 240663; theboerigg.co.uk. Family-friendly campsite in a large field with a modern on-site café/restaurant. Even if you’re not staying here, it’s a useful place to grab a bite to eat if passing.

Demesne Farm Campsite & Bunkhouse Demesne Farm, Bellingham NE48 2BS; 01434 220258/07967 396345; demesnefarmcampsite.co.uk. Basic campsite on a working farm on the edge of Bellingham (walking distance to the shops); popular with Pennine Way walkers and families (children can get up close to some of the farm animals).

Kielder Campsite Kielder NE48 1EJ; 01434 239257; kieldercampsite.co.uk. A fairly quiet, family oriented site set by a river not far from Kielder village, with a designated area for tents (don’t forget to pack midge repellent). You can also stay in a timber-framed hut – or ‘pod’. Backcountry campers will be pleased to know that there are several places in remoter parts of the forest run by the Forestry Commission where you can pitch up for a night (call 01434 221012 and see information on page 183 of the printed Bradt guide).

Mounthooley bunkhouse College Valley, Kirknewton NE71 6TX; 01668 216210; college-valley.co.uk/Mounthooly.htm. One of the most remote places to stay in Northumberland, this old stone shepherd’s cottage deep in College Valley is not far from the Hen Hole. Some of the finest Cheviot hill walks are straight from the front door. Inside, there are two pine dormitories (standard youth-hostel prices) and a couple of family rooms, but if just two guests are staying the price is almost the same as an average B&B). An open fire keeps the living room cosy and there’s a barbecue area outside. You don’t need a College Valley permit to drive into the valley if you are staying at the bunkhouse, where there is parking.

Ravenscleugh near Elsdon; ravenscleugh.com (see B&B listing)

Tarset Tor Bunkhouse & Bothies Tarset, near Kielder NE48 1NT; 01434 240980; tarset-tor.co.uk. Contemporary timber eco lodge (with a sauna) set in a quiet spot with views of undulating farmland and hills and easy access to Kielder. It can sleep up to 20 in four rooms. Bike storage. Private bothies also for hire (modern, timber-framed huts).

Tomlinson’s Café & Bunkhouse Bridge St, Rothbury NE65 7SF; 01669 621979; tomlinsonsrothbury.co.uk. Small, clean bunkhouse (but feels more like a youth hostel and rates are above average) housed in an old school in the centre of Rothbury. Bunk beds in three rooms, each with a modern bathroom. Downstairs there’s a cosy, bright lounge with a wood-burning stove. The kitchen is very small so you may want to have breakfast in the adjoining café (served from 09.00). Popular with cyclists.

Wild Northumbrian Greenhaugh, Tarset NE48 1NA; 01669 650166; wildnorthumbrian.co.uk. Exotic tipis and yurts in a beautiful upland setting by a burn and not far from Kielder. Great for families. Couples wanting to get away from it all should book the remote Corbie shepherd’s hut. A bothy sleeps four.

Wild camping 

Camping in the Cheviots is not permitted, but you are unlikely to be bothered if you’re walking with a bivvy bag or backpacking tent and stay above the tree line (1,500 feet or higher) and out of farmland and Forestry Commission woodlands. There are a number of spots in remote parts of Kielder where you can pitch up for a night with permission from the Forestry Commission (call 01434 221012).

Morpeth and Capability Brown Country 

Hotel

Battlesteads Hotel & Restaurant Wark NE48 3LS; 01434 230209; battlesteads.com. The reason you’re most likely to stay in this old farmhouse with impressive green credentials (once crowned Green Hotel of the Year in a national competition) is for the restaurant which is exceedingly good. Those interested in astronomy should go online to book special events held at Battlesteads’ very own observatory. Wark – a pleasant country village – is also well situated for trips into Kielder Forest, Redesdale and to Hadrian’s Wall. Rooms are modern but pricey (over £100 for a standard double) and some may find the décor a bit dated. To the rear of the hotel, next to the observatory, is a selection of contemporary, self-catering pine lodges. Wheelchair accessible.

B&Bs

St Mary’s Inn St Mary’s Park, St Mary’s Ln, near Stannington, Morpeth NE61 6BL; 01670 293293; stmarysinn.co.uk. Large, spotless B&B housed in an early 1900s former asylum a few miles south of Morpeth (and therefore a good option for those touring up the A1); modern and stylish with feature antiques, stripped floors, wrought-iron beds and a splash of colour in furnishings. Very good on-site restaurant.

Self-catering

The Hytte Bingfield (five miles north of Corbridge) NE46 4HR; 01434 672321; thehytte.com. This Norwegian-inspired Gold Award timber cabin just off the A68 has a turf roof, sauna and hot tub and gets booked up far in advance. It’s an unusual self-catering lodge (sleeps eight) set in over an acre of wildflower meadows and lawn. The Hytte is rated ‘exceptional’ for accessibility by the National Accessible Scheme and is very welcoming to wheelchair users. The price works out reasonably for large groups. 

Shieldhall Wallington NE61 4AQ; 01830 540387; stayatshieldhall.co.uk. You can see the National Trust’s Wallington Hall from the gardens of this 18th-century farmhouse. The surrounding countryside is like stepping into parkland laid out by Capability Brown, which is fitting because the great landscape gardener’s family used to live here. Within Shieldhall’s ten acres, there’s a lovely meadow walk. The self-catering Cabinetmakers Suite (a barn conversion) is decorated to a very good standard with solid wood furniture (some pieces handcrafted by the owner and his son who have a cabinet-making business at Kirkharle). Homemade are available dinners on request

Southlands Farm Cottages Gunnerton, south of Wark NE48 4EA; 01434 681 464; southlandsfarmcottages.co.uk. Three stone cottages (side by side so good for large family groups) in a hamlet surrounded by hills and farmland. All cottages are furnished to a high standard (modern décor and fittings with a touch of the old) and are very cosy with wood-burning stoves and underfloor heating, hence the slightly above-average prices. The ecologically minded owners have rare-breed cattle, pigs and free-range hens. Help yourself to veg (with permission) from the organic kitchen garden. A welcome basket of fresh produce is provided on your first day.

Hadrian's Wall Country

Hotel

Walwick Hall Humshaugh, near Chesters Roman Fort; 01434 620156; walwickhall.com. Large Georgian manor which has recently been converted into a luxury hotel and spa in landscaped grounds. Expect to pay top end prices (£250 per night upwards for doubles) for sumptuous rooms (traditionally styled with modern touches) in what is probably the plushest hotel in Northumberland, where the staff are uniformed, couples walk arm in arm along the sunny terrace and the sound of children is rare indeed (families may feel more comfortable staying in one of eight self-catering suites in nearby Chesters Stables – a magnificent 19th-century building within the Walwick Hall estate). Produce grown in the walled garden is worked into unfussy, modern dishes and served in a decadent dining room (the extensive use of gold furnishings may not be to everyone’s taste, however). 

B&Bs

Carraw B&B Carraw Farm, Humshaugh NE46 4DB; 01434 689857; carraw.co.uk. Three miles west of Chesters Roman Fort is thisexceptionally friendly and comfortable Gold Award B&B for which you will pay only a little more than average. Rooms in the main 17th-century farmhouse are bright, modern, unfussy and feature exposed beams, stone walls and stripped pine floors. Facing the south and open countryside, they are all blissfully quiet and have lovely views of the Tyne Valley and distant Pennine moors. In one room the bath taps have been thoughtfully positioned in the middle of the tub so you can lie back and enjoy the view. A new timber extension (The Lodge) has wheelchair-accessible rooms. Laundry and drying facilities and secure cycle storage are a welcome sight for soaked Hadrian’s Wall walkers and cyclists. Leah is a wonderful host – always smiling – and is committed to sourcing produce from local butchers and farms. She also bakes her own bread and biscuits (complimentary on arrival). Dinners and packed lunches are available if ordered in advance. 

Old Repeater Station Grindon, near Housesteads NE47 6NQ

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