England’s most northerly county, the ancient Kingdom of Northumbria is a magical place filled with spectacular castles, golden sandy beaches, rolling hills, rugged moorland, picturesque market towns and quaint seaside villages. From Hadrian’s Wall to the Cheviot Hills, from historic Holy Island to the spectacular beaches with a backdrop of Dunstanburgh or Bamburgh Castle, North Northumberland has it all.
Superb walks from the doorstep of all our cottages, ranging from leisurely rambles along the Bowmont Water and across the surrounding farmland to more challenging hill and moorland treks in the Cheviot’s. With more than 600 miles of footpaths and bridleways to choose from in the Northumberland National Park alone, walkers are spoilt for choice. The Northumberland Coastal Path provides a more gentle alternative with fantastic views of the stunning coastline and out to Holy Island and beyond or trek the Cheviots in the footsteps of St Cuthbert along St Cuthbert’s Way.
Cyclists are equally well provided for with miles of marked routes and quiet country lanes to explore offering everything from meandering river valley saunters to wild open moorland blasts. Popular routes include the Pennine Cycleway and the Reivers Cycle Route, both of which run through the Northumberland National Park.
There can be no better way of enjoying Northumberland’s beautiful scenery than from the back of a horse. The stables at Kimmerston, just down the road, offer riding in the Cheviot Hills as well as on the spectacular sandy beaches with views to the Farne Islands and beyond. The paddock behind the Bothy is available to guests wishing to bring their own horses, and stabling can usually be arranged with sufficient notice.
This part of Northumberland has more golf courses than any other county and you will never play a round in a more beautiful setting than on some of these cliff top courses. Try Goswick, Bamburgh or Foxton Hall at Alnmouth for the coastal feel, Wooler or Rothbury for hillside views, or the Hirsel near Coldstream for the Scottish touch.
Anyone for tennis? Then drop into Berwick Tennis Club or Lennel Tennis Club which has three all-weather courts available as well as squash and badminton. If you fancy taking the opportunity to brush up on your skills, local tennis coach Richard Ward is an LTA qualified coach with years of experience.
Some of the cleanest and emptiest beaches in England can be found on Northumberland’s spectacular Heritage Coastline. Over 25 miles of rocky coves and golden sands remain almost deserted even during the summer months. The beach at nearby Bamburgh is well worth a visit at any time of the year, whether for walking, kite-surfing or sandcastle building. From nearby Seahouses, take a tour to the Farne Islands, to see the resident colonies of Grey Seals and an impressive array of birdlife including the Puffins.
Almost on the doorstep is the Ford & Etal Estates complete with many attractions and things to do. One of our favourites popular with old and young alike, is the delightful miniature steam railway which runs from Heatherslaw to Etal. On arrival in Etal, visitors can leave the train and while away an hour or two in the village, exploring the ruins of Etal Castle and its museum on the nearby site of the Battle of Flodden visiting the Black Bull Pub, the inspirational Lady Waterford Hall, village shop, Tea Room, the Church, the pine furniture makers’ showroom, or simply enjoying a walk or picnic beside the river, before catching a later train back to Heatherslaw. On the other side of the bridge from the train station lies the working water driven flour mill with café and visitors centre, both well worth a visit.
For the sporty family Adventure Northumberland offer a range of outdoor thrill seeking activities from coasteering to Kayaking and rock climbing to paddle boarding. All equipment included and bike hire also available.
Situated in close proximity to the Flodden Battlefield, historians of all ages will be enthralled by the area’s rich and often bloody past which has left its imprint on the region, giving rise to a myriad of impressive castles to explore and battlefields too.
Because of its often turbulent past, Northumberland boasts more castles and fortified houses than any other English county. Bamburgh Castle perched on its rocky outcrop above the golden sands of Bamburgh Beach, the haunting and romantic cliff-top ruin of Dunstanburgh castle, the medieval splendour of Alnwick Castle (now probably more famous because of its connection with Harry Potter wizardry) and not forgetting Chillingham Castle, said to be the most haunted castle in Britain and where you can also see the only truly wild cattle in the world. Further back in time, take an inspirational trip to the Duddo Standing Stones which date back over 4,500 years!
There is a wealth of lovely homes, some very grand indeed, to visit in the Borders. One of the closest is Floors Castle, home to the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe and Scotland’s largest inhabited castle. Also a great place for lunch and lovely garden.
Along the coast towards Alnwick lies the Howick Garden. Always worth a visit but particularly splendid in the late Spring when the magnolias, rhododendrons and azaleas are at their best.
Head west for the splendours of Bowhill House and Estate and to see the internationally renowned Buccleuch collection. Paxton House in Berwick upon Tweed hosts lots of family events throughout the season and is close by offering a good option for a rainy day. Although slightly smaller in scale, Mindrum Garden is seriously worth a trip by any plant lover with its profusion of scents, colours and textures.
Some 40 minutes drive south is Alnwick Castle and Gardens. Home to the Percy family for over 700 years the historic castle offers culture as well as family fun with events throughout the season. The neighbouring Alnwick Garden with its spectacular Treehouse restaurant and poison garden are equally family friendly. The picturesque market town of Rothbury is also worth a visit as is nearby Cragside, the estate of the Victorian industrialist, Lord Armstrong.
The closest local market town is Berwick upon Tweed where visitors will find The Maltings Theatre and the Swan Leisure Centre – just the thing for a wet day to entertain the entire family with its indoor swimming pool. Market towns on both sides of the border such as Kelso and Alnwick also have plenty to offer from fresh local produce which can be found in the farmers markets to country clothing and gifts. Alnwick also boasts the largest second hand book shop in the country in Barter Books, located in the old railway station and complete with roaring fires, café and miniature railway.
Also close by and charming is the small town of St Boswells, home to The Mainstreet Trading Company. Here the former auction house has been renovated to create a charming bookshop and café selling delicious homemade produce. Also on site is a delicatessen and gift shop, both worthy of a nose around. In a similar vein head north for lunch at Carnaby’s in Brownieside, Alnwick, a family friendly café offering home cooked food and a great selection of unusual gifts.
If you fancy the bright lights without stress – from Berwick upon Tweed catch the train north to Edinburgh (45 mins) or south to Newcastle upon Tyne (45 mins) for a leisurely way to explore these fascinating and cosmopolitan cities without the usual trials and tribulations of parking.
The area has many pubs and restaurants that are well worth a visit during your stay.
Our favourites are amongst the following…
Blue Bell, Crookham
Within walking distance of Crookham Eastfield. Expect warm hospitality, hearty bar food.
Collingwood Arms, Cornhill
Serving excellent food with strong emphasis on local produce. Attractive rear garden for al fresco eating on a warm, sunny day.
The Red Lion, Milfield
Good honest pub food.
The Old Dairy, Ford
Look out for their guest chef evenings.
The Black Bull, Lowick
Newly renovated well worth a visit.
The Potted Lobster, Bamburgh
Serves fresh local seafood alongside locally sourced meat and other fresh produce.
The Jolly Fisherman, Craster (famous for its kippers)
Lies directly on the Northumberland Coastal Path and dog friendly making it very popular with walkers as well as tourists.
The Ship, Newton by the Sea
Lovely traditional pub famous for its locally sourced crab sandwiches.
New and exciting, Exceptional food. One off gifts & clothes chosen by a discerning eye.
The Mainstreet Trading Company, St Boswells
Fabulous, bookie, foodie and gift shop.
For fishing fanatics, the legendary River Tweed is only a 10 to 15 minute drive from any of our cottages. Closer still is the River Till and one of the area’s best kept secrets with an impressive sea trout run each spring. Trout permits are available for as little as £5 per day and rods, reels and waders can be hired locally. Fishing is available on the Bowmont Water which runs within easy walking distance of The Bothy and a short drive from the other cottages. This is free of charge to cottage visitors on a first come first served basis, so please get in touch if you would like to fish.
James Armstrong of Chasing Fins is a keen fisherman and knows the local rivers well including The Tweed, The Till and The Whiteadder, offers guiding services for those who wish a helping hand.
Vintage car enthusiasts enjoy the added bonus of our quiet leafy lanes and private parking spaces.
Why not book your next break in early June when The Vintage Motoring Automobile Club hold their annual extravaganza at Thirlestane Castle, Lauder. The event attracts around 7,000 visitors and more than 1400 vintage and classic vehicles (voted in the Sunday Times top 10 car festivals in Britain).