Explore the Tyne Valley with Our Guide of Things to See and Do
As the river Tyne meanders from east to west, so too does the Tyne Valley – stretching out leisurely across the North East of England, taking in well known villages and towns such as Corbridge and Hexham.
Famous for its breathtaking scenery, it is also home to some famous historic sites, not least Hadrian’s Wall. Take the train for a trip along the old Tyne Valley line – which links Newcastle in the east and Carlisle in the West – or hop in the car to discover all its sights.
However you get there, you will definitely want to get out on foot to fully explore and appreciate everything the Tyne Valley has to offer.
WHERE TO STAY
Bed and breakfast, self catering, camping – Ryehill Farm in Slaley has all the options covered. Treat yourself to traditional farmhouse B&B accommodation, get a group together and spread out in the three-bedroomed converted milk byre (that’s cowshed to you and me), or pitch up at the secluded campsite in the farm’s grounds.
For fans of glamping, Herding Hill Farm near Haltwhistle boasts wigwams with their own hot tubs, weatherproof tipis and lotus belle tents – complete with heating.
Henshaw Barn offers fabulous bed and breakfast accommodation in a stylish barn conversion, on a working alpaca farm, where guests can relax in their own sitting room after a day out and about.
Southland Farm Cottages boast three traditionally-built luxury holiday cottages for two to four people, complete with open fires, modern kitchens and period features. The cottages can be combined for larger groups, and they are also dog friendly.
BREAKFAST AND LUNCH
The Hearth Café in Horsley is open for both breakfast and lunch. This little gem shares its home with an arts space, so you can browse works by local makers before or after tucking into an all-day breakfast or a light bite.
For a traditional pub lunch, The Ship Inn in Wylam is a good option, and it’s dog friendly. The Angel of Corbridge almost deserves to be on a tourist map of the Tyne Valley – the former coaching Inn, built in 1529, offers all-day dining alongside Northumbrian hospitality, and you can even get fish and chips to take away.
The Rat Inn at Alnwick has built up an enviable reputation for pub food with a difference. Diners can select from the bar menu, with its snacks and sandwiches, or the blackboard menu, which changes daily.
WINE AND DINE
The award-winning Feathers Inn at Hedley on the Hill combines rustic charm with award-winning food and is worth making the trip for.
Pop into The Pele Corbridge for a drink, the Grade I-listed converted pele tower, in the heart of the village, is a micro pub and brewery, set over three floors. As well as its own ale, The Pele, visitors will find plenty of craft ales, ciders, wines and spirits to choose from.
Dinner at the Beaumont Hotel in Hexham is a rather splendid thing. The menu changes seasonally and you can watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen. Staying in Hexham – for a touch of French ‘je ne sais quoi’, try Danielle’s Bistro.
This popular destination offers à la carte dining as well as evening set menus and specials, all in an intimate setting – perfect for a romantic meal à deux, or a relaxed catch-up with friends. The General Havelock Inn at Haydon Bridge is ideal for a cosy evening in the pub – either just for a drink, such as one of the locally-sourced real ales, or for a meal in the converted stone barn overlooking the river.
ARTS AND CULTURE
The Nordic Voices international multi-arts festival takes place across a range of venues in Hexham, from 8th until 22nd May 2018. Artists from the North East and Scandinavia will come together in a programme of music, storytelling, food and film.
It’s festival time in Haltwhistle from 7th to 8th July, with events for all ages. On 27th August, Hexham Abbey will be taken over by Romans to celebrate Flavinus Day – with loads of activities, displays and food on offer.
We can’t look at culture in the Tyne Valley without mentioning Hadrian’s Wall. With so many fascinating archaeological sites along the route, as well as impressive portions of the wall itself to marvel at, it is an absolute must-see for anybody visiting this part of the country.
The longest continuous stretch of the wall can be found at Birdoswald fort, and you can visit the exhibition which tells you more about the Roman soldiers who were based there. At Housesteads, you can wander round the remains of the old Roman fort or head to the interactive museum, where you will discover personal objects once owned by the Romans.
Just outside Corbridge is Aydon Castle – an almost completely intact 13th century English manor house that was fortified when war broke out between England and Scotland.
Full of quirkiness and colour, RE in Corbridge is a must-visit for inspirational ideas for your home, while award-winning Forum Books in the market place is a rare treat – an independent bookshop chock-full of hand-picked books, covering an eclectic subject range.
For real specs appeal, try Croft & Graves Optometrists in Corbridge – the only independent stockists of Tiffany & Co eyewear and sunglasses in the Tyne Valley.
Housed in the same building, you’ll find Lisa Graham Hearingcare – utilising the best hearing aid technology from the world’s leading manufacturers to meet each individual’s needs.
You can’t leave Corbridge without a trip to Corbridge Garden Room – a family run business, specialising in gifts, homeware and garden accessories. Malcolm Elgin Antiques in South Acomb is run by Malcolm and his wife Patricia.
Here you will find 17th, 18th and 19th century pieces, both decorative and practical. Ideal if you are looking for something unique. In Hexham, Ralph and Mimi stocks children’s designer clothes and they also offer a made-to-measure service – perfect for a special occasion outfit.
Sarah Hickey creates stunning handmade jewellery from her new Hexham studio and Sorella is full of stylish ideas for you and your home.
Head to Petals of Hexham for lingerie and swimwear from top brands, and a Rigby & Peller-trained fitting service. Alternatively, for a little flower power, head to Dillies for beautiful bouquets and floral gifts, as well as handcrafted chocolate.
WHERE TO WALK
The Tyne Valley is just begging to be explored on foot. Over green fields and through pretty villages, it’s a rambler’s dream.
Allen Banks is a popular choice – why not head to Morralee Woods, or go via the tarn to Plankey Mill and into impressive Staward Gorge? Don’t forget to pack a picnic, as the scenery is worth savouring.
For a short stroll, take the route from Greenhead to Thirlwall Castle. Now a ruin, this 12th century castle is a Grade I-listed building and also holds Scheduled Ancient Monument status.
With a little more exertion, but with the reward of fantastic views, you can start out at Steel Rigg car park and walk up Peel Crags, past Crag Lough – formed by glaciers during the Ice Age.
If you’re feeling really, really energetic, there is a Hadrian’s Wall walking route which goes all the way from Newcastle to Cumbria. At a distance of around 85 miles, it’s not for the faint hearted.
The 18th century walled garden at Bradley Gardens in Wylam has been restored to its former glory and now offers great dining and shopping as well as a tranquil space. For the green-fingered out there, Tyne Valley Garden Centre is worth a trip.
This family-owned business not only has all the essentials you’d want, but its café also boasts great views. Ladycross Quarry in Slaley is the place to go for inspirational ideas for your home. Perhaps you’d like a kitchen bedecked with beautiful flagstones, an eye-catching stone fireplace in the living room or a stone-ringed pond in the garden.
They can create stunning looks using the Ladycross stone worked there. For history buffs, the 13th century Holy Cross Church in Haltwhistle’s market square is well worth a visit – to see its surviving artefacts as well as its east window, designed by Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones.
In Hexham you’ll find Robinson Gay gallery, with works from local makers – including fantastically striking soft furnishings and accessories by Susi Bellamy – plus bespoke Robinson Gay handmade furniture.
THINGS TO DO
The Sill is how the UK’s National Landscape Discovery Centre at Once Brewed is better known. As well as a stunning viewing platform, from which you can see far and wide in all directions, it is also home to exhibitions, café and shop – specialising in local crafts and produce.
If you fancy a real country day out, make a date for the Northumberland County Show. It’s taking place on Monday 28th May at Bywell Hall, near Stocksfield, with a host of events from livestock shows to Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling.
Hexham Regatta on Saturday 2nd June offers a leisurely day out – watching the crews glide along the River Tyne. If you prefer a bit more speed to your day, take in the Shaw Trophy Targa Rally which starts at High House Farm Brewery in Matfen, on Sunday 10th June.
To make the most of the great outdoors, take part in Haltwhistle’s autumn walking festival, which runs from 29th September to 7th October. If you want to get fitter before then, you may want to get in touch with the personal trainers at BeBespoke Fitness, based in the Tyne Valley. They come to you in your own home, so there’s no excuse.