Ah Northumberland. With its sprawling countryside, endless coast and serious abundance of castles, there is always something to find for your next adventure.
If you are visiting from afar or even nearby, it’s easy to be drawn to the undeniably beautiful big hitters. Who hasn’t searched for things to do and been drawn to magical Alnwick Castle, astounding Hadrian’s Wall or mesmerising Bamburgh?
But there are many hidden gems to be found too if you know where to look. In this post, Fabulous North
are going to be exploring some fabulous places in the Duddo area, right at the top of Northumberland.
Northumberland is not known for its wealth of stone circles and the Duddo Five Stones are probably the best we have to offer. These 4,000 year old stones sit right in the middle of the countryside with a kilometre walk through fields to get there, so their remoteness just adds to the mystery. There were originally 7 stones before 3 went missing with a further stone being added back in 1903 to improve the skyline bringing it to the 5 we see today. Regardless of the season you visit the Duddo Stones they are so picturesque that they look spectacular in all conditions. The stones also offer amazing views over the Cheviot Hills to the south and the Lammermuir Hills to the north.
Visitors to Duddo tend to be attracted to the stones, but don’t realise there is also a ruined tower nearby. Perched up some crags in the middle of the village, it was originally a 15th century tower house and defensive enclosure (a barmkin – love that word), built by the Clavering family. However it was destroyed by King James IV of Scotland. If you know your local history, he ruined a lot of castles and buildings in Northumberland during his reign. The remains were then integrated into a tower house and the ruins you see date to around the 16th century. There is a small path around the back of the tower if you fancy wandering up, but it can be a little overgrown, so take care.
Just 3 miles west of Duddo you’ll find a charming Tudor arch bridge that was built in 1511. Although it may not look imposing now it was actually the largest single span bridge anywhere in Britain at its time and the only dry crossing over the River Till between Etal and the Tweed. Now King James IV of Scotland, who we mentioned in the Duddo Tower summary above, had a few invasions into England with the most famous (and his last) being the Battle Of Flodden in 1513. Both the Scottish and English crossed this bridge on their way to the battle with the English traversing with over 10,000 men and a cannon. There is a small car park and information board right next to the bridge.
After you have marvelled at the bridge, then take the track up into the woods and within a few minutes you will find the ruined Twizel Castle. Sir John Heron owned a medieval house on these grounds, but was destroyed in 1496 by the Scottish army commanded by King James IV of Scotland and subsequently the grounds were then abandoned. Nearly 150 years later Sir Francis Blake purchased the estate, living there until 1738 when they moved to Tillmouth Hall. The Blake family attempted to rebuild the castle into a five level mansion, but it was never complete and in 1882 they used the stone from the castle to build a new mansion on Tillmouth Park. There is still plenty of the castle to see and would have garnered amazing views over the Till.
We hope this has given you a tast of some fabulous places for the next time you are on an adventure in Northumberland.
This blog was written by Fabulous North. Head over to their website for more travel inspiration on the north of England.
Author: Simon Hawkins