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Northumberland National Park & Kielder Forest

Expert author, Gemma Hall, shares her picks of the best accommodation in Northumberland National Park and Kielder Forest.

Written by Gemma Hall

 

Hotels

Le Petit Château Otterburn NE19 1NR; 01830 570 400; https://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; www.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; www.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; http://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; http://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; www.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; www.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; www.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; http://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; www.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; www.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; http://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; www.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; http://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; www.calvert-trust.org.uk/kielder (book through www.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; https://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; www.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; www.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; www.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; http://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; http://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; https://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; http://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; www.ravenscleugh.com. (see B&B listing)

Tarset Tor Bunkhouse & Bothies Tarset, near Kielder NE48 1NT; 01434 240980; www.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; www.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; www.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 and see the information on page 183 of the printed Bradt guide).


If you want to find out more about accommodation options in Northumberland, check out our guide:

Northumberland: the Bradt Guide

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