Days Out Attractions & Buildings
Chesters Walled Garden
This 2-acre 18th century garden is sheltered on three sides by woodland and open on the fourth to stunning views of the Tyne Valley. For 200 years the garden provided the fruit and vegetables for Chester’s House but it is now laid out as a unique herb garden. Open: March-Oct 10am-5pm daily. Nov-mid March opening hours depend on the weather and it is advisable to telephone before visiting.
Childhood Memories Toy Museum
Open: April-May 10.30am-5.00pm weekends only, June-Sept 10.30am-5.00pm Tues-Sun except bank holidays, Sept-Nov 10.30am-5.00pm weekends only. Adults £1.50, Child/Conc.75p Family £4. Those with a nostalgic streak should visit the Childhood Memories Toy Museum, which exhibits toys from every era. There’s something slightly creepy yet oddly comforting about the mix of Tiny Tears dolls from the 1980s and highly unsavoury Gollywogs from the 1880s.
Open: April-Oct 12pm-5pm for tearoom, ground, garden, and castle. Closed Saturdays (except Easter Saturday). Open Nov-April by appointment. Adult £9, conc. £8, child (5-15) £5, under 5s free, family ticket £22. Assistance dogs only.
As well as an array of top quality Asian restaurants (see restaurant section), the Chinatown district is also noted for its specialist supermarkets, craft shops and vibrant New Year celebrations.
Chollerford is home to Chester’s Fort, one of the largest forts on Hadrian’s Wall. There’s the remains of a military bathhouse; one of the best examples of Roman building in the country. Visitors can find out more in the museum attached to the fort. Just next door to this historical gem is Chester’s Walled Garden. This two-acre 18th century garden is sheltered on three sides by woodland and open on the fourth to stunning views of the Tyne Valley. For 200 years the garden provided the fruit and vegetables for Chester’s House but it is now laid out as a unique herb garden. Don’t forget to take a peek at the Roman Garden where the Roman’s favourite herbs are planted – a fascinating glimpse into the culinary, medicinal and religious habits of the time. If you’re staying in the area or even if you just fancy a bite to eat, head to The George Hotel. This 17th century hotel is built on the banks of the Tyne and has a great spa and pool that can be used by day visitors as well as guests.
Opened in June 2009, Newcastle’s fantastic state of the art library is a fabulous glass construction with six floors. Inside you’ll find a fabulous café, express email facilities, a performance space that can seat up 185 people, music scores, DVDs, CDs, PCs, local collections and oh, loads of books.
Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum
Apr-Oct, Mon-Fri, 10am-3.30pm, Sat 1pm-3.30pm. Open Sundays in school holidays. Closed Nov-Mar except by appointment. Adults £5.50, concs. £5, children (5-15) £3, under-5s free, family (2 adults 2 children) £12. The mining museum is a tribute to one of the aspects of industry that Teesside is renowned for. It is based on the site of a Loftus Mine, but you won’t hear of any dwarves singing as they go digging for diamonds. Instead, you learn about the skills and the customs that powered mining Victorian and Edwardian England. You can also submerge yourself into the depths of Loftus in an authentic underground mining experience, if you dare.
Corbridge, so named because when the Romans saw the bridge crossing the Tyne to the village they shouted ‘Cor! Bridge!’ Or perhaps that’s just another piece of Roman Wall hearsay. Either way, this village falls decidedly into the pretty (some may say twee) camp. However, the abundance of tearooms, art shops and cottages gives way nicely to a rather unexpected interiors shop called RE: which sells ‘REscued and REstored found objects from around the world’. And very stylish they are too. Also worth a visit whilst in Corbridge is Aydon Castle. This fortified 13th century manor house (converted to a farmhouse in the 17th century) has often been the setting for major films including Ivanhoe and Elizabeth. Other features on the list of things to do and see in and around Corbridge are the Corbridge Roman Site Museum and the delightful Dilston Physic Garden, a mere half mile up the road.
Corbridge Roman Site Museum
Originally a fort, Corbridge evolved into a prosperous town. The large modern museum contains many interesting items of Roman daily life found around the site, including armour, weapons, inscriptions and sculpture. Open: April-Sept 10am-5.30pm daily. Oct 10am-4pm daily. Nov-Mar 10am-4pm Wed- Sun. Adult £5, Conc. £4.50, Child £3.
Cowshill’s main claim to fame is Killhope Lead Mining Museum. This restored and complete lead mining operation boasts a most impressive 32ft water wheel. Visitors can walk down the original tunnel of the Park Level Mine and discover working conditions of 19th century miners, with superb guided talks. Surrounded by good walking areas, there’s also a cafe if you need refreshment to restore your constitution. ‘Santa in the Mines’ at the beginning of December is a big hit with the kids. We recommend you dress warmly – Cowshill is 1500 feet above sea level and a bit nippy even at the height of summer.
Cragside House and Gardens
House Open: March-April, late April – May, June – July, Sept - Oct 1pm-5pm. Early April- late April, late May- June, late July – Sept, Oct 11am- 5pm. Daily except Mon Gardens, estate, shop and restaurant: March- Oct 10.30am- 5pm, daily except Mon. Nov- Dec 11am- 4pm, Tues- Sun. A fine and slightly eccentric example of the work of Norman Shaw, built for Lord Armstrong between 1864-95 and the very first house in the world lit by hydro-electricity. A very impressive building in equally impressive surroundings with restored Victorian gardens, famous for its displays of rhododendrons (May-June).
Crook Hall & Gardens
Crook Hall and Gardens
Durham, County Durham
A medieval hall with Jacobean drawing-room, turret and gallery, set in 4 acres of gardens including 2 walled gardens, a silver and white garden, an orchard, courtyard fountain, large moat pool and a maze. The hall is haunted by the White Lady. Ruskin and Wordsworth visited Crook Hall in the 1800s. Described as 'A tapestry of colourful blooms' by Alan Titchmarsh, Crook Hall is enchanting throughout the seasons. Light lunches and homemade cream teas are served in the Georgian dining room or in the pretty little courtyard. Wednesday-Sunday, 11-5pm adult: £6 child& conc: £4.00