Where to Stay
Battlesteads is an award-winning eco hotel and restaurant in Wark, Northumberland. Winning numerous awards for its sustainability, it has two acres of gardens and polytunnels where green vegetables, salads, herbs and summer fruits are grown, picked and then used in the restaurant for organic and sustainable recipes. It also has its own mushroom farm housed in an old shipping container, and head chef Eddie Shilton smokes his own meats, fish and cheeses on-site. 22 cosy, en-suite bedrooms, including five luxury eco lodges, are all on offer when you stay. Plus, this is the only hotel in the country with an on-site observatory, so you can stargaze until you fall asleep.
- Head to The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre, otherwise known as ‘The Gateway to the National Park’, to browse any exhibitions that are on display and pick up some information ahead of your adventure. There is also a café with panoramic views of the stunning National Park landscape – the perfect spot for an energy-boosting coffee before you start exploring.
Option 1) Roman Roaming
- One of the most dominating features of Northumberland National Park is Hadrian’s Wall, so we suggest you head out on one of the many routes that let you soak up the most staggering sections of the wall. Sycamore Gap, Brocolitia Temple and Crag Lough are just a few iconic sites along the incredible Roman remains. Have a look at the National Park’s walking routes guide to pick the right route for you. From dramatic, jutting crags to sweeping, rolling hills, there are an array of landscapes to admire while you walk. Plus, archaeological sites and forts such as Vindolanda, Housesteads Roman Fort and Chesters Roman Fort can all be factored into your walk.
Option 2) Secret Strolls
- If you’re looking for those ‘Instagrammable’ hidden gems and rare wildlife, many National Park routes lead to whimsical waterfalls and middle-of-nowhere destinations. Wander through ancient woodland to Hareshaw Linn waterfall, where the surrounding oak, hazel, elm and ash trees make this spot feel like an undiscovered secret. Take a walk through the rugged Cheviots such as College Valley, which holds 12,000 wild and wonderful acres of land to traverse. Admire crumbling hill forts, hike the panoramic Border Ridge route and enjoy peaceful, trickling streams that weave through the valley. Go feral-goat-spotting for the Neolithic breed that roam The Cheviot hills and don’t be alarmed if you see one wearing a collar – they are so precious that Newcastle University is currently GPS tracking them!
If you plan on walking the day away, pack a picnic so you can eat on-demand amongst the awe-inspiring National Park landscape. Alternatively, The Sill offers a number of light bites and lunch options and there are many pubs nestled away in the National Park that boast toasty open fires and cosy seating.
Enjoy a hearty dinner at Battlesteads this evening – you can’t miss out on the fresh, organic recipes that are made up of vegetables grown in the hotel garden, fresh meats that are smoked on site and home-made fruit gins.
Once the sun has set, you are free to enjoy the most pristine darks skies in the UK. Along with Kielder Water & Forest Park, Northumberland National Park has been designated Northumberland’s International Dark Sky Park and the UK’s largest International Dark Sky Park. This means that Battlesteads Observatory is in a prime location for gazing into the galaxy and you can experience a number of courses from ‘Getting to Know your Telescope’ and ‘Astronomy for Absolute beginners’ to ‘Aurora Hunting’ and ‘Nightscape Photography’.
Then, huddle up in your cosy hotel room or relax in your eco lodge compete with super-sized spa bath and outdoor deck so you can put your new knowledge into practice independently.