Indulge in afternoon tea at Clarendon’s, which shares its space in Market Place with Allium Gift and Homeware. Around 10 minutes drive away, The Fox and Hounds in Cotherstone is a traditional coaching inn and hotel that prides itself on using local produce, including cheese from the local creamery, fresh fish from Durham’s coast, and vegetables from their own garden. Cosy Blagraves House is the oldest house in the town and has an acclaimed restaurant with à la carte menu.
The nearby Rose and Crown at Romaldkirk offers the cosiest of accommodation – you’re greeted by a roaring fire in Winter, good pub food, antique chairs, a long wine list (plus over a dozen malt whiskies) and 14 comfortable bedrooms. There are numerous good B&Bs in Barnard Castle and one favourite, Stobgreen House, lies just outside the village of Eggleston. It’s a classic, characterful, cosy and thoroughly recommended. In Barney Heap, Gordon House is another superb place to stay.
They’ve recently relocated to larger premises, but Ruby & Ds are continuing to specialise in one-off vintage items, quirky household ornaments, and they now stock Annie Sloan paint, meaning there’s everything you need to make your home gorgeous and unique. Don’t miss Zara Countrywear for quality clothes, accessories and riding wear by leading brands including Hunter and Arctic Fox.
The spectacular Bowes Museum is unmissable, with an impressive programme of major exhibitions, fun family activities and a great gift shop. The café is a good spot for breakfast.
Opened last year, The Witham has a comedy programme that will have you rolling in the aisles (not literally) courtesy of Funny Way To Be Comedy Club, who draw in top acts from across the country. The venue also hosts music, theatre, exhibitions and community events.
Cross the river to Egglestone Abbey, a 13th century abbey surrounded by fields, for picturesque views. While the car is parked, take the opportunity to walk down to the picturesque river.
Around the corner
Nearby Staindrop is home to Raby Castle, which has been in the Vane family since 1626. Surrounded by 200 acres of deer park and boasting walled gardens, a woodland play area and a collection of vintage horse-drawn carriages, it’s also the venue for markets, foodie events, car rallies and outdoor theatre. Don’t miss High Force. Just a few miles outside Barnard Castle its 70 foot drop makes it England’s highest uninterrupted waterfall.