Charming Cragside

My adventures in Northumberland have taken me to a range of places, each as unique as the other. However, there is only one place I have been lucky enough to visit in two different seasons and I still haven’t managed to see everything. Cragside is a National Trust site situated in between Rothbury and Morpeth. Just along a hidden lane off the Coldstream road to Edinburgh.

When to visit?

Autumn brings quiet paths and fresh air. The rugged beauty of nature shines through, with a few orange hues mixed in. The downside is the opening hours are limited as the North of England has short periods of daylight between October and April.

Spring brings clear views and cute lambs. Rhododendrons bloom and bring life into the greenery of the vegetation surrounding the landscaped grounds of Cragside. The lighter nights mean there is more time to explore the area.

What to do?

The House

I love Cragside because I have visited several times and still haven’t seen everything. Personally, I would say visit the House on your first visit. It gives an insight into the family who once lived here and how the eco-friendly humans managed to power part of the house using hydropower. Inside the house smells homely, like cookies. There is even a fireplace to warm your toes if you visit in the colder months. Plants line the hall leading to the kitchen, great to stop for a snack. The kitchen itself is huge and has a bathtub inside. Sadly, during my visit the upstairs was closed. But the windowsill fast became my favourite spot as I could look at all of the beautiful autumn leaves covering the Northumberland hills. My photographer loved the library but was sad to find we couldn’t read any of the books.

The Rock Garden

To visit in autumn or spring, that is the question. For me, it was a close choice but I would choose autumn. After blue, orange is my favourite colour and the rock garden becomes an array of different shades. The view to the house from the iron bridge shows the incredible colours. The pinetum also comes to life with the orange leaves peeping through the ancient pine trees.

In spring the rhododendrons are everywhere in the rock garden, making it a beautiful mix of colours. I did really enjoy it, but thought there were too many plants too close together to enjoy fully. Though, from afar it really made the house and grounds pop with colour.

Into the woods

If you visit Cragside, the ultimate thing to do is get lost in the woods. Find a hidden trail and follow it, who knows you might find something magical! The rhododendrons in the woodland were my favourite as they add a splash of purple into the green backdrop. Sadly, some of the trails are still closed following the storms of November 2021, but Cragside is huge and the woodland behind the house is safe to explore.

From purple, to green to orange. Its a great place for a wander in autumn too. But it does get a bit muddy. If you are like me and don’t like the British winter, there is a road through the grounds which you can drive along.

Labyrinth

Situated in the back of the grounds, I stumbled up on it by chance whilst following a small path through the woods. I would recommend driving up to the Nelly’s Moss car park and focussing on the labyrinth from there. It takes a lot of walking, or that might have just been me as I took a couple (or hundreds) of wrong turns. I won’t say where the start is, I think I went around the route backwards in true dinosaur style.

I found a lock shaped doorframe and curiosity got the better of me, I just had to go through and follow the path. After various turns and doubling back on myself four times. The centre of the labyrinth appeared! There are some incredible wooden statues throughout the maze, I liked the grasshopper the best. My photographer liked the wizard.

Lakeside

Tumbleton lake is the lake which is visible as you drive into the estate. It hasn’t really got a lot to explore, I just found it to be a really relaxing spot where you can eat lunch and just enjoy being out in the countryside.

I did a short walk around the lake in autumn when I was hoping to find a pile of crunchy leaves to jump in. Instead, I found a monster log, luckily it was sleeping.

Where to eat?

You can grab food on the go from areas nearer the back of Cragside or even take a picnic. I tried The Still Room in the visitor centre and the food turned out to be great. Homemade three bean chilli is great to warm you up on a cold autumnal day. There is also a small coffee spot hidden in the main buildings, it is perfect for sitting outside and watching the humans explore.

Is it accessible?

The estate itself is one of the more accessible National Trust sites in Northumberland (thanks to all the hills). Cragside has a single road which loops through the estate and is a six mile route. I haven’t done this yet but I do think it is a good idea.

There are also a few carparks along this route with accessible parking so you can explore the site in small sections, which is how I am exploring Cragside. The paths are hilly in areas but there are alternative routes. The lake is a nice flat route, as is the pinetum. Cragside is pretty quiet even on days when it is more popular to visit (when avoiding public/ school holidays) which is good if you don’t like (to be stood on in) crowds, like I don’t.

I think after another 4 visits I might have seen the whole of the estate. I would like to visit in the snow as I think it would make the grounds look beautiful … now to convince my photographer that it is a good idea.

Sauropod on Microsoft Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

For a daily dose of dinosaur, feel free to visit my Instagram Vegan0saurus

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