Visit These Two Villages with Stately Homes to Explore
Explore these two very different villages
In Ponteland, Michelin-recommended Eleven is the best restaurant to open in the village in years – make sure you book a table to sample their imaginative menu of ingredient-led dishes. Mambos is a buzzy place serving good food and cocktails, while Yolo is the place to go for great cocktails, burgers and tapas-style small plates. The Blackbird is Ponteland’s oldest pub and offers a menu of high-end pub classics, plus light bites like salads, sandwiches and dirty fries. In Darras Hall, don’t miss contemporary Indian fine dining at Haveli, and Number 9 is the place for coffee, brunch and lunch. A few miles north, Belsay’s Blacksmith’s Coffee Shop does brilliant homemade scones, cakes and light lunches.
On the roadside between Ponteland and Belsay, Tomahawk steakhouse has several cosy rooms available – all of which include a full breakfast in the restaurant – and they serve a hearty Sunday lunch and excellent steaks too. Perched on a hilltop just north of Belsay, Harnham Hall guest house has far-reaching views and the bedrooms here have plenty of original features. Guests have use of the garden as well as the snug and Dragon Room, where a locally-sourced breakfast is served which will set you up for the day.
In Darras Hall, Carousel has long been a reliable option for gifts, including jewellery, accessories, cards and balloons, while Davidson’s bakery is another stalwart, making fresh bread, cakes, savouries and sandwiches to take away. Up the road, Belsay’s Village Shop is an example of a great local store – its packed shelves providing everything from store-cupboard essentials to local delicacies, snacks, newspapers, gifts and cards.
This area is packed with stately homes to explore. Make sure you leave time for a trip to Wallington, where you’ll find wild woodlands, adventure playgrounds and a great cycle trail as well as the Hall itself. Just down the road, enjoy a stroll around the picturesque Bolam Lake, and see if you can spot a red squirrel, roe deer or a woodpecker. At Belsay Hall Castle and Gardens, check out the Grecian Hall, medieval castle, and extensive gardens (including the exotic Quarry Garden) .
Around the corner
Keep heading north from Belsay and you’ll find Kirkharle Courtyard. Birthplace of landscape gardening icon Capability Brown, the converted farm buildings here are now home to a collection of independent shops, artists’ galleries, workshops, a well-stocked larder and a coffee shop. You can also enjoy a stroll around the serpentine lake which was designed by Brown, but was only brought to life in 2010.