Perched perfectly on the southern most tip of the county of Northumberland, waving a warm hello (just across a wee bridge) towards the wonders of the North West of Durham and nestling under the wild moorland fells in the north of the Pennines…when it comes to location we have well and truly scored a countryside hat-trick.
The perfect spot for the country junkie or indeed a lover of a view, stay on home ground to walk the moors, cycle through the scenery, fish our garden river or sail the Derwent. Or, if flight takes your fancy, head out further afield to dip your toes at the coastline, ramble upon Roman ruins, discover mystical castles and gaze under the darkest of skies.
With our rolling hills, wild moorland and rural landscape, Northumberland is truly a ‘gem’ for cycling routes. Spun by the the most seasoned of cyclists (including the GB team) you can challenge yourself to an uphill climb, descend down our sweeping country lanes or free wheel along the flats of the coast line. And to make sure you’re prepared for every eventuality at the ‘Crewe’ we have put together our very own peloton - including four bikes to borrow, a lock up to store them in, Garmins to loan, tools and wash down facilities as well as an onsite guru who goes by the name of Spud…we’ll tell you that tale another time.
Trailing the Pennines former railway lines, Derwentside routes are suitable for both the serious cycler and family groups alike. Tackle the Waskerley Way or head out for the Derwent Walk, and drink in the scenery on route.
The Packhorse Trails
• Alston (18 miles) • Bladerside (11 miles) • Blanchland (13 miles) • Hamsterley (16 miles) • Hartside (7 miles)
These five mountain bike routes are all circular and cover some of the best of the North Pennines. To follow the Blanchland Trail start out at Baybridge, follow the Carriers’ Way across Bulbeck Common and enjoy some moorland riding.
The C2C Cycle Route
We are just a short 6 miles from the credited C2C stop Rookhope and with the promise of ‘some serious road burning’ this one offers a tough challenge. Crossing England at its most northerly point, the offering of beautiful scenery is a definite. Good food and a great night’s sleep can also be provided to keep you up to the challenge. The Pennine Cycle Way is the ‘two wheel equivalent of the Pennine Way for walkers’. 355 miles long it covers the Peak District from Tissington to Holmirth and with Blanchland on its path, enjoy the perfect spot to rest and recuperate.
Northumberland and the North Pennines are famed for their rich array of walks and lucky for us we fall within both. With open countryside, rolling hills, rugged coastline, and a wealth of varied footpaths and bridleways connecting all, we are the perfect place for a riverside ramble, or a more challenging long distance trail.
Right on our doorstep is a range of walks to be explored and enjoyed. If it’s a gentler stroll you are looking for, follow the roads and paths west of the village enjoying the delights of the Derwent valley as you go. Or if it’s a challenge you’re after, head for the fells where you can explore desolation at its most beautiful.
A Pennine Journey
A long distance walk, circular and 277 miles long – this is not for the faint hearted. Following in Alfred Wainwrights footsteps (he mapped out the way in 1938), the final part of the journey covers the moorland stretches of County Durham and the Pennines, passing Blanchland just before arriving at Hadrian’s Wall. Touching all the major rivers in the region and covering the vast array of terrain that the North East boasts, this one may well be worth the blisters.
*We keep a pile of maps at reception for you to pick from during your stay, including our favourite walk up the fells to Rookhope.
Down at the bottom on the garden and running peacefully through Blanchland village is our own private stretch of the River Derwent. Stocked with wily brown trout (or as we call them ‘broon troot’), you can catch a little fellow weighing up to 1lb anytime during the season from March to September. All you have to do is call on the kitchens for your own ‘bait box’, grab a rug and treat yourselves to some quiet time in a pretty spot. Then, when you have landed your catch head back through the gardens and hang it in our smoke house or go one better let us cook it for you in the glow of our fireplace. *Rod hire is available for £13.75 per day and this includes a fee for your rod licence which we will organise on your behalf.
If it is bigger fish you are looking to fry, we are but a stone’s throw away from the Derwent Reservoir. Hailed as Northumbrian Water’s most popular fishery, anglers have the opportunity of catching specimen trout weighing up to 20lbs. Open from March until November, fishing permits start from £23 per person. We can organise everything for you, so all you have to do is cast off, relax, and enjoy the spectacular views of the valley.
Known as the best salmon river in England and Wales, the Tyne has become widely regarded as ‘the risen angel in the world of high class salmon fishing.’ With over 6000 migratory fish landed per year, keen anglers are very nearly guaranteed a delicious catch. With the closest beat to the Lord Crewe lying 11 miles north of Blanchland at Dilston, Corbridge, prices start from £50 per person a day in July and go up to £90 in October. Again, we can do everything for you and so your only challenge is to land your catch.
Right in the North of the Pennines, The Lord Crewe Arms is lucky enough to enjoy a prime spot amongst some of Britain’s most exhilarating and fruitful grouse moors. And never ones to beat around the bush, we are all set to go with a gun room, boot room, drying room and a chef who has a bit of a thing for game.
So if you and your guns are looking for some country comforts at the end of a hardy day out on the tops, you’ve found it. Voted Britain’s ‘Best Shooting Pub 2015’ by the Countryside Alliance and Country Life Magazine, we guarantee to make every part of your stay in our hunting box as smooth as possible – oh, and have we mentioned our wine list?
Need to knows
• Our twenty one country bedrooms start from £160 and include a hearty Northumbrian breakfast as well as VAT.
• Our private dining room, The Dorothy Forster, seats up to 14 guests.
• Our secure gun room has 16 individual lockers and is accessed by a separate entrance from the village square.
• Your four legged friends are very welcome to stay in our miners cottages or the downstairs floor of The Angel for a charge of £10 per pet. Rugs, beds and bowls are provided.
Don’t worry about the catering and instead, let us look after lunch. With a range of choices from a picnic bag to a basket with broth or a lunch served by us in a shooting hut picked by you, we can offer just the right fuel to keep your ‘guns’ raring to go.
A little over 3 miles from the Lord Crewe Arms and nestled in the heart of the valley is Derwent Reservoir. With a thousand acres of open water on offer and a few fishermen dotted in the distance for company, take to the waters and enjoy your sport with like-minded fellows devoted to windsurfing and sailing – with a landscape lined with conifers, it couldn’t be more perfect. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a member of the club to enjoy this privilege, let us know your plans and we can work it all out for you)
Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club
Situated on the north shore of the reservoir, Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club caters for the novice and the competitor. Club facilities include a clubhouse with showers, changing rooms, club room, galley bar and indoor workshop and five generous slipways for easy launch with a boat park catering for up to 400 berths. With the best inland sailing in the North East of England there’s nowhere better to dip your toes.
Known as the jewel in the crown of Northumberland, Corbridge grew from the Roman town Corstopitum – a supply town for the troops on Hadrians Wall. Nowadays a bustling village flaunting delicious tea rooms, honey coloured cottages and quirky shops (have you been to RE? If not you must!) it's the perfect spot for a potter.
With a handsome Norman Abbey at its heart, Hexham town is treated to an array of shops and cafes as well as a beautiful park, The Sele. Hosting twice monthly farmers markets, a yearly book festival and a musical festival in the abbey – it fair to say it all goes on in Hexham.
A pretty stone built village in the heart of the Allen Valleys, Allendale has twice been crowned ‘Village of the Year for All England.’ Small in size but big in personality, it is home to a vibrant community who are renowned for throwing a pretty good party – most famously the Tar Barrel. A pagan New Year ceremony, it involves a colourful procession of villagers (otherwise known as guisers) carrying whiskey barrels full of burning tar through the village at midnight – one for the bucket list!
At the heart of the Durham Dales and just over the tops from us, Stanhope is a lovely market town perfect for visitors who want to enjoy beautiful surroundings (sitting down by the River Wear is pretty wonderful) and who have a bit of thing for outdoor pursuits. Head for the outdoor swimming pool in the summer months, board the Weardale Railway to enjoy a journey through spectacular scenery and then, when Christmas comes don your favourite P.J’s and jump on the Polar Express.
A stay in Northumberland goes hand in hand with a visit to our world-famous Hadrian’s Wall. Stretching across the north of England, Hadrian’s Wall is truly a special place, offering spectacular landscapes, complete solitude and a rare insight into Roman life 1,600 years after they left.
Home to two exciting tourist attractions dramatically exploring Roman life on the edge of the empire 2000 years ago. You can enjoy a peak at the world famous Vindolanda writing tablets, live archaeology in the summertime, the exclusive Eagle Eye 3D film and much more. And to top it off, this Roman site is right in the heart of the beautiful Northumberland National Park.
Corbridge Roman Town
Corbridge Roman Town was a crucial supply base for the Roman legions based on Hadrian’s Wall that developed into a civilian settlement. Walk the streets of the once active Roman town and explore the site’s fascinating museum.
Part of Hadrian’s Wall and the best preserved Roman cavalry fort in Britain, Chester’s Roman Fort offers us a look at the Roman Empires northern outpost. Explore the officers quarters, baths and steam room and view the amazing collection of Roman items inside the museum.
Pow Hill Country Park Dark Sky Discovery Site
Right on our doorstep (just an up the hill and around a few corners to be precise), Pow Hill is a gorgeous country park looked after by Durham County Council. One of the first five Dark Sky Discovery Sites to be designated in the North Pennines, it's recognised for the quality of its dark night skies and is a brilliant spot for astronomers and novices alike, to stargaze. Positioned right on the edge of Derwent Reservoir it boasts large, uninterrupted views of the northern sky and under a clear winter night's sky the main stellar constellations can be seen. Oh and on really good nights, the Milky Way can also be seen with the naked eye. No biggie.
Kielder Water and Forest Park and Kielder Observatory
The star studded skies above Kielder are the most breathtaking and darkest in the whole of England and not only that, but alongside Northumberland National Park and Kielder Observatory they have been awarded Gold Tier Dark Sky Park status by the International Dark Skies Association (IDA).
At nearly 580sq miles, the dark sky zone, known as ‘Northumberland International Dark Sky Park’, is the biggest Dark Sky Park area of protected night sky in Europe and the fourth largest in the world – WOW.
And the jewel in its crown has to be The Observatory - in the depth of the forest this clever building opens up at night for you to gaze at the wonders above. It is no surprise then that since it opened in 2008 nearly 70,000 people have visited to take part in its exciting programme of astronomical events.
*You are welcome to head up and wander around the observatory during the day time but to see it in action at night you have to pre-book yourself into one of the events – to check out the diary go to; http://www.kielderobservatory.org/events/
30 miles from us at the Forest-in-Teesdale in the Durham Dales, is the most spectacular waterfall in England, High Force. Surrounded by the beautiful countryside of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it's rise as a trickle begins on the heather covered fells before it eventually and breathtakingly drops 21 meters into a plunge pool below on the River Tees.
To get there pull up at their picturesque car park (and picnic area) and then head out to walk a pretty woodland path, alive with wild flowers, ferns, towering trees and the occasional roe deer – perfect day trip material ;-)