Celebrating the great outdoors
It’s worth the effort of getting ‘well wrapped up’ and venturing out into the North East’s gardens and countryside during autumn and winter – and where better than National Trust (NT) properties?
In the first of a series of places to visit and events to go to in the colder months, Nick Sundin looks at what the NT has to offer.
Acorn Bank, Temple Sowerby, near Penrith, Cumbria CA10 1SP, www.
Acorn Bank is a lodge with extensive gardens and orchards, best known for growing herbs and fruit which are then served in the tea room. The lodge has a fascinating past, being owned first in the 13th century by the Knights Templar, and in the 19th century being used as a centre of gypsum mining.
The gardens are running “Treacherous Halloween Trails” from October 22-30, showcasing the mix of history and herbiculture with a Halloween twist. Admission is £1 on top of general admission, and the trails run regularly from 10am-4pm, leaving time for lunch or tea afterwards.
- General admission: £6.75 for adults, £3.35 for children, family tickets £16.85.
- The lodge and gardens are open 10am-5pm except Tuesdays in October, and 11am-4pm at weekends in November and December.
Allen Banks and Staward Gorge, near Ridley Hall, Bardon Mill, Hexham, Northumberland NE47 7BP, www.
For walkers and hikers, Allen Banks has ornamental gardens and paths designed in the 1880s by Susan Davidson, or ‘Wonder Woman’ as she’s known by the rangers who maintain this woodland haven.
Dog lovers will love the woodland trails, and the Morralee Tarn walk has a Victorian boating lake for that inevitable leap into the water for any canine companion. Spectacular views of the Tyne Valley and Hadrian’s Wall from the summit.
- No admission charge, and car parking is available from dawn until dusk.
- Please note the western side of the banks is closed due to storm damage. The rest of the woodland is now open.
Cragside, Rothbury, Morpeth, Northumberland NE65 7PX, www.
Cragside, the first house in the world to be powered by hydroelectricity, has an extensive estate featuring the UK’s tallest Scots pine, Europe’s largest rock garden, and Lord Armstrong’s Victorian terraced garden.
The formal terraced gardens have tours (included in general admission) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in October, for a chance to learn about and experience these stunning surroundings. Booking ahead is not needed, though disabled access is limited due to a landslide.
- General admission for October starts at £10.20 for adults, £5.10 for children, and £25.50 for a family of four, with discounts available for groups of over 15.
- Opening times for October are 10am-6pm for the woodland and gardens, and 11am-5pm for the house.
- The house is closed during November and December, but the gardens are open from 11am-4pm, with special discount prices of £5.20 for adults and £2.60 for children.
Gibside, Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, NE16 6BG, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gibside
Gibside, a hidden treasure of a country estate, has 18th-century landscaped gardens and a recently restored walled garden. The gardens are famous for their autumn walks, and child-friendly activities over Halloween.
Walled Garden Wednesday, an opportunity to meet one of Gibside’s gardeners and receive hands-on horticultural advice, runs on the October 12, 19, and 26, from 1.30-2pm. Booking is not needed and no extra fee is charged (though standard admission applies).
- General admission: starts at £8.70 for adults and £4.50 for children, family tickets from £22 for a family of four.
- Opening times for the landscaped and walled gardens are 10am-6pm in October, and 10am-4pm during November and December.
Wallington, Cambo, Morpeth, Northumberland NE61 4AR, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallington
Wallington Hall, for generations home to the Trevelyan family, has more than 13,000 acres of estate to suit walkers and hikers of any ability, and a secret walled garden.
During half term, Wallington is running a series of Autumn Adventures, from October 22-30, with indoor activities such as pumpkin-carving and Halloween crafts and outdoor events like leaf collecting and tours of the woodlands. They are included in general admission, running from 11am-3pm.
- General admission starts at £11.80 for adults, £5.90 for children, and £29.50 for a family of four.
- Opening times for the estate, walled garden and woodland are 10am-dusk during winter.
- There is also a cafe and shop open until 5.30pm.