Northumberland has been a regular retreat for us in recent years – the beautiful beaches have won over our hearts and Noodle the Cockapoo became an immediate fan on her visit this summer. This year we decided to revisit a garden we first went to 6 years ago, and we were so glad that we did! Here’s why you should add a garden visit to Cragside to your wish list.
Cragside is located close to Morpeth and is owned by the National Trust and comprises of a historic Victorian house, gardens and woodland. The house was the first in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity and there are over 1000 acres of land to explore. As we had Noodle with us we didn’t visit the house and focused on the gardens and the woodlands.
First stop, as requested by Lulu and Tilda was the adventure play park. We had parked in the main car park and it was quite a long walk up a steep path (there are closer car parks!) Kudos to the National Trust though as they came up with a brilliant way of encouraging kids (and adults!) to make the walk. Posts with emojis on them are placed every 100m, starting with grumpy faces and getting happier and more excited the closer you get to the play park. The kids loved this and ran to each post to see what the next face would be.
The adventure play park is a great place to explore with zip line, slide, climbing frame and lots more. To the side is a den building area where our kids spent ages perfecting their own den. On the opposite side is the Barefoot Walk which is a brilliant sensory experience. With pebbles, rocks, logs and LOTS of oozy mud, big and little kids had a great time here. There is a tap at the end so just bring a towel to dry off. The kids and adults also loved exploring the Labyrinth – there is something magical about walking through huge rhododendrons – and you really don’t know where you are going as it’s so huge! Will you get to the middle?!
We had a lovely walk (using the emojis again!) back down, past the lovely Rock Garden and over the Iron Bridge and across to the Formal Gardens. There were old fashioned toys here for the kids to play with and deckchairs where we enjoyed a lovely relaxing picnic. The formal gardens comprise of the Orchard House (full of beautiful fruits), the Italian Terrace (packed with gorgeous herbaceous) as well as a carpet of bedding plants. There is also the Pinetum nearby, full of towering conifers.
As with all National Trust properties there are the usual lovely cafes and shops to visit too. If you are in Northumberland, Cragside is definitely worth a visit.