Travel review: Northumberland, the perfect place for a holiday
“We could live here,” said my partner as we entered Gallow Law cottage for a weekend break. And indeed I felt exactly the same – on two counts. First the stunning location and the stunning barn conversion.
Yes, the cottage is in a remote spot in Tarset in Kielder Water & Forest Park in Northumberland. But there’s a lovely pub serving great food just three miles away and the small town of Bellingham just a little further away with shops, cafés, pubs and a museum.
And beyond all that, there is the breathtaking scenery all around you with fantastic walking, biking trails, water sports, horse riding and plenty of other venture activites all on your doorstep.
Not forgetting the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park and its renowned observatory set atop a hill and from where you can experience the best star-gazing and even spot the Andromeda Galaxy – a vast island of stars very similar to our own Milky Way.
The observatory does a series of talks and visits on various aspects of the skies and our universe and it is well worth booking to experience one.
An introductory one for £15 is one of the best two hours I’ve spent. As an asbolute beginner in astronomy, it was a perfect way to learn the basics. Experts talk you through elements, and I mean experts with the best of scientific qualifications. But as with Brian Cox, they make it very accessible to those like me with the sparcest of knowledge of our skies.
Driving around Kielder Water is spectacular and I would suggest you take a trip through the forest and pay the toll to take the Kielder Forest Drive from Byrness across to Kielder itself. It rises high in parts and is often closed during bad weather, but gives superb views across the hills.
But back to our ‘cottage’ and I put it like like that because it is so spacious and airy that calling it a cottage does not do it justice.
It is one of two known collectively as The Bower Cottages, right at the end of the public road before you enter forest roads.
It is full of character with high ceilings, beautfiful wooden beams and floor-to-ceiling windows and doors along the length of the dining/living area and one bedroom which open directly on to your own outside area complete with patio furniture for the warmer weather. It is an ideal layout for those who take their pooch along (up to two dogs are welcome and believe me there’s plenty of space for two!) as the outside is enclosed to keep hounds safe unless they are high jumpers . . .
A stone-built barn conversion, Gallow Law is all on one floor and beautifully furnished with contemporary finishes but keeping its traditional feel.
The well-equipped kitchen has dishwasher, washing machine, microwave, cooker, hob, fridge, plenty of utensils and a breakfast table. A lovely touch was the welcome pack including fresh milk, tea, coffee, a bottle of wine, butter and superb homemade scones with homemade jam. Yummy. There were even treats for dog Jack.
The dining and living area was huge with comfy sofas, a woodburner and starter pack of logs (more can be sourced from a nearby farm building at reasonable cost), books, games, smart TV and wi-fi.
There is a very substantial king-sized double bedroom with a five star bed and bedding and an equally impressive twin bedroom plus a large bathroom with quality shower and a roll-top bath.
I cannot emphasise how spacious this property is. From the kitchen, there is a large hall which has access to the patio and outside area and from here there is the twin room and bathroom. Down a step from the kitchen into the dining/living area and a decent trot across to the double bedroom! With four in the house there is no feeling crowded.
As keen walkers it is in an ideal location and there is plenty of wildlife to spot including roe deer, otters, red squirrels, seven species of bat and a variety of birds, including ospreys. A little further afield are the popular tourist attractions of the Northumberland coast, Lindisfarne and Hadrian’s Wall are all accessible and make for a great day out. In fact there is so much to see and do in Northumberland that it’s difficult to decide what to do and what to leave out.
Gallow Law Cottage can be hired via Sykes Holiday Cottages which has all sorts of properties across England, Scotland and Wales. From town and city to coast and country and from one-bed apartments to vast houses for that big family get-together.
Sykes website is easy to navigate and there are helpful staff at the end of the telephone.
Gallow Law Cottage is ideal for those looking for a holiday in a peaceful environment. I relaxed so much I almost fell over. . .