Hidden Gems

Hidden Gems

Overview


Start: Matfen Hall

Finish: Matfen Hall

Matfen Hall
Set in some of Northumberland’s most beautiful countryside, Matfen Hall is a magnificent 19th century country house hotel. Sir Hugh and Lady Anna Blackett carefully restored their ancestral home between 1997 and 1999 to it becoming one of the leading independently run hotels in the region. Matfen Hall offers everything that a guest would expect from such an imposing and elegant building. The superb leisure club offers swimming pool, gym, aerobics studio and 5 beauty treatment rooms, the highly rated 27 hole golf course offers an ideal opportunity for relaxation. Renowned for its extensive menu of fabulous food The Library Restaurant offers an intimate atmosphere for dining. 


Journey Times - Day One

Matfen Hall to Heritage Centre, Bellingham 17 miles 40 minutes
Heritage Centre, Bellingham to Kielder Water & Forest Park 10 miles 17 minutes
Kielder Water and Forest Park to Matfen Hall  30 miles 1hr 5 minutes


Here’s how:
Turn right out of Matfen Hall follow the road to join the B6342. Turn right onto the A68, follow the A68 down to West Woodburn.  In West Woodburn take a left turn for Bellingham opposite the Bay Horse pub.  Follow this road, down the hill, the Heritage Centre and Carriages will be on your left.  

Here’s Why: This small Museum and Heritage Centre and new Carriages Tea Room houses artefacts, photographs, maps, drawings and documents recording the history and traditions of the North Tyne Valley and Redesdale. Displays include the Border Counties Railway, Border Reivers, WP Collier Photographer, mining, farming including the Stannersburn Smithy, heritage and oral history. The Heritage Centre also provides public access to a computerised database of historic photographs as well as a database of local family names. There are a wide range of things for children to do from trying on a Reiver's helmet to playing the Sammy the Salmon videogame. The Centre holds a variety of events each year including special historical and art exhibitions, a vintage and classic vehicles weekend in April, as well as readings and performances by poets and musicians.

No visit is complete without a visit to Carriages Tea Rooms, enjoy a mid morning cup of tea and freshly home baked scone whilst sitting on a Mark One railway carriage.

Depart: Heritage Centre, Bellingham 

Here’s How: Turn left out of Station Yard follow the road to the centre of the village, the post office will be on your left hand side.  Take a left hand turn towards Hexham, take a right turn at the church for Kielder.  At the next junction turn right for Kielder, continue on this road until you reach the destination. This route will take you through of some of the most breath taking scenery in Northumberland National Park. A haven for wildlife you might see red squirrels, a rare black grouse and a curlew – a moorland bird with an unforgettable cry that is the emblem of Northumberland National Park. 

Here’s Why: Home to northern Europe’s largest man-made lake and England's largest forest, Kielder Water & Forest Park is one of Northumberland's best attractions. You can discover all you need to know about Kielder Water & Forest Park including its history at Tower Knowe Visitor Centre or visit Kielder Castle, the former hunting lodge for the Duke of Northumberland, which now houses a café and unmanned visitor centre with ground floor forestry exhibition. Kielder Waterside is home to a Bird of Prey Centre, learn from the experts all about the amazing birds, including owls, vultures and falcons.  Take a trip around the lake on board the ferry “Osprey”, learn the history of the lake and what is housed beneath as you travel around. 

Depart: Kielder Water and Forest Park

Here’s How: Follow the C200 into the centre of Bellingham village.  At the junction turn right; the post office will now be on your left, in the direction of West Woodburn.  Arriving in West Woodburn, at the junction turn right onto the A68. Continue on the A68 until you reach the roundabout, take the first exit onto the B6318.  After approximately 3 miles turn left, continue and the hotel will be on your right. 

Arrive: Matfen Hall 

Journey Times - Day Two

Matfen Hall to Housesteads 21 miles 30 minutes
Housesteads to The Sill  3 miles  7 minutes
The Sill to Chesters Roman Fort 11 miles 15 minutes
Chesters Roman Fort to Matfen Hall 10 miles 15 minutes

Depart: Matfen Hall

Here’s How:
Turn left out of Matfen Hall for approximately 2 miles, before turning right onto the B6318. Continue on this road to the roundabout where you’ll take the 2nd exit to continue on the B6318. Dropping down into Chollerford, go over the bridge and at the roundabout take the 1st exit to stay on the B6318. Follow this road for approximately 10 miles, The Sill Landscape Discovery Centre will be on your left.

Arrive: Housesteads

Here’s Why: Set high on a dramatic escarpment on Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site, Housesteads Roman Fort takes you back to the Roman Empire.
Wander the barrack blocks and the hospital. Peer into the oldest toilets you'll ever see, and admire the stunning panoramic views from this ancient fortress.
Our interactive museum showcases objects once belonging to Roman soldiers, and the mini-cinema will take you on a journey through time

Depart: Housesteads 

Here’s How: Turn right out of the car park onto the B6318, travel along this road for approximately 3 miles. The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre will be on your left. 

Arrive: The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre.

Here’s Why: Northumberland National Park’s new visitor attraction. This free to access state of the art exhibition brings our incredible landscape to life. It includes geological exhibits; interactive displays; artwork installations and audio-visual displays. The aim of the exhibition is to transform how people discover and explore the natural and cultural heritage of the landscape. It will ignite your curiosity about environment and empower you to ask the big questions about the world around you. 

Take a walk onto the Whinsill Grassland Roof and enjoy panoramic views of Northumberland National Park. Built to mimic the shapes and geology of The Great Whin Sill, the grass roof is planted in a substrate inspired by the surrounding landscape. Enjoy freshly made sandwiches and light bites in The Sill Café, along with a selection of seasonal specials, before visiting the shop specialising in local crafts and products.

Depart: The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre

Here’s How: Turn right out of The Sill onto the B6318 continue on this road for approximately 11 miles. Turn right into Chesters Roman Fort. 

Arrive: Chesters Roman Fort

Here’s Why: Chesters Roman Fort is the most complete Roman cavalry fort in Britain, see what life was like at one of the Roman Empire’s most northern outposts. Wander around the unusually well-preserved baths and steam room, and the officers' quarters. Discover an amazing collection of Roman objects and inscriptions in our museum, these were found at the fort and along Hadrian's Wall. Don't miss Chesters Tearoom and our new family trail, 'Chesters Fort Takeover'.

Depart: Chesters Roman Fort 

Here’s How:
Turn right out of Chesters Roman Fort onto the B6318, at the roundabout take the 3rd exit to stay on the B6318. Continuing on this road for approximately 5 miles you will reach a roundabout. Take the 2nd exit staying on the B6318 for 3 miles. Take a left turn for Matfen, follow the signs for Matfen Hall.

Arrive: Matfen Hall 

Journey Times - Day Three

Matfen Hall to Corbridge 8 miles 15 minutes
Corbridge to Hexham 5 miles 10 minutes
Hexham to Matfen Hall 11 miles 20 minutes

Depart: Matfen Hall

Here’s How: Turn left out of Matfen Hall heading towards the B6318. At the junction turn right onto the B6318. Continue on this road you will reach a roundabout, take the 1st exit onto the A68. At the next roundabout take the 1st exit onto B6529 into Corbridge village.

Arrive: Corbridge
This picturesque village dates back to Roman times and has Corbridge Roman Town site on its outskirts. St Andrew’s Church dates back to the 7th Century and was built in part using stones from nearby Hadrian’s Wall. There’s something more Venetian than Roman about the secret streets and courtyards of Corbridge, where you never know what’s round the corner. Sneaky backstreets like St Helen’s must be explored – and Bishop’s and Old Bakery Yards. Gaze at Pele towers; a Saxon church; mullioned and oriel windows and soft, golden stone. The compact centre boasts a wide range of cafes & pubs for refreshments, many award winning independent shops, the tourist information centre and public toilets.
No visit to Corbridge is complete without a visit Corbridge Roman Town

Here’s Why: Not all the sites on Hadrian's Wall were heavily guarded fortresses. Corbridge was once a bustling town and supply base where Romans and civilians would pick up food and provisions. It remained a vibrant community right up until the end of Roman Britain in the early years of the 5th century. Today, you can still walk through the town's streets and experience a time-capsule of Roman life. You can also discover Roman armour and trinkets uncovered with the Corbridge Hoard at the museum. The Hoard was one of the most significant finds in Roman history, providing us with fascinating insight into the life of a soldier on the Wall. The museum is also home to the Corbridge Collection, the largest of the Hadrian's Walls collections.

Depart: Corbridge

Here’s How: From the Market Place head out of the village towards the A69, at the roundabout take the 1st exit onto the A69 signed for Hexham / Carlisle continue on this road. At the roundabout take the 1st exit onto A6079 into Hexham. Go through the next roundabout before taking the 1st exit of the next onto Alemouth Road. Take the 2nd exit onto Priestpopple continuing up Battle Hill before turning left down Beaumont Street. Hexham Abbey will be on your left.

Arrive: Hexham

Here’s Why: A picturesque market town characterised by its delightful parks, stone architecture, cobbled streets and historic buildings. A range of quality independent shops, high street favourites and regular outdoor markets all blend to offer you a unique experience. A warm welcome awaits you in our many coffee shops and award-winning restaurants. The town boasts its own racecourse, theatre, cinema, golf courses, rowing club, skateboard park, leisure centre with pool, running track and tenpin bowling – activities for all ages.

Hexham Old Gaol
If you dare, visit Hexham Old Gaol, the oldest purpose built prison in England (c 1330) where you'll gain a fascinating insight into crime and punishment in medieval Northumberland. For almost 500 years its thick walls held prisoners, but today, interactive displays on punishment, archeology, armour, costume and textiles as well as a vivid film about Border Reviers bring a violent era of Northumberland's history to life.

Hexham Abbey
Founded in AD 674, Hexham Abbey is one of the earliest surviving Christian foundations in Britain. In parts of the building you are standing in Wilfrid’s monastic cathedral, in others you enter the 13th-century Augustinian Priory, while the building as a whole, now the parish church of Hexham, tells the story of the Christian life of this region. Visit the Anglo Saxon Crypt, a steep stone stair descending from the nave takes you back over 1300 years, into rooms and passageways left intact from St. Wilfrid’s original church
Visit the interactive exhibition which gives visitors a fascinating overview of the Abbey’s history, telling the story of not only the buildings but also of the many people who have lived and worked here over the centuries.

Depart: Hexham
Here’s How: Out of Hexham join the A69 via the 4th exit in the direction of Newcastle. Continue for approximately 3 miles before taking the exit for A68 Corbridge, turn left onto the A68. At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto B6318 continuing for approximately 3 miles. Turn left for Matfen and continue picking up the signs for Matfen Hall.

Arrive: Matfen Hall

Places in this itinerary


Matfen Hall
NE20 0RH
Kielder castle
NE48 1BT

Home to Northern Europe's biggest man made lake, the largest working forest in England and the darkest skies in England, Kielder Water & Forest Park is the ideal destination for group travellers.

The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre
NE47 7AN

The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre (named after the famous Whin Sill, upon which the Emperor Hadrian built his Wall) is an exciting new visitor attraction that will help you explore our wonderful landscapes and rich heritage.

Chesters from the air
NE46 4EU

Chesters Roman Fort is the most complete Roman cavalry fort in Britain - wander around the unusually well-preserved bath-house and steam room, and the officers' quarters. Discover an amazing collection of Roman objects and inscriptions in the Clayton Museum.

Corbridge Roman Town
NE45 5NT

Not all the sites on Hadrian's Wall were heavily guarded fortresses. Corbridge was once a bustling town and supply base where Romans and civilians would pick up food and provisions. It remained a vibrant community right up until the end of Roman Britain in the early years of the 5th century.

You'll be captivated
NE46 3NH

Explore the oldest purpose built prison in England and discover the violent border life of the reivers.

Arial View of Hexham Abbey
NE46 3NB

Hexham Abbey welcome visitor groups with some unique and exclusive experiences alongside our comprehensive offering.  We provide hosted tours, audio guides, out of hours access to our 7th century Crypt, and also catering options using our many historic rooms.  Onsite alongside the Abbey we have an interactive exhibition, cafe and shop.

Queens Hall
NE46 3LS

Hexham Tourist Information Centre is the best place to find information on Hadrian's Wall, attractions, events, eating out, accommodation, walks, and much more, for Tynedale, North East England and the rest of the country. 

Map of places in the itinerary


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