From October 1st, we have been offering our guests some wonderful local game, as supplied to us by Ridley’s Fish and Game merchants. Based at Acomb near Hexham, Northumberland, and recommended by Rick Stein, this family-run concern was established in 1991 and has become known for outstanding quality and service.

The pheasant season runs from 1st October to 1st February, and we like to use this lovely local produce on our evening meal menu. Locally sourced from the Chipchase Estate, Northumberland wild pheasant  has a mild taste. The meat is white, like chicken, but has a more complex and subtle flavour, and is very lean. Kevin slow-cooks the pheasant and locally sourced partridge on the bone to maximise flavour and then strips the meat, serving it in a rich game gravy with chorizo – perfect to enjoy in the comfort of your room after a day spent exploring Northumberland!

We can’t believe that it is September already, and as the evenings are growing darker earlier, we welcome the opportunity to enjoy the dark skies here at Layside. Northumberland is considered the best place in England to view the night sky with clear air and minimal light pollution, and on a clear night the planets and even many of the fainter stars of the Milky Way can be seen.

Northumberland International Dark Sky Park was unveiled in December 2013. At 572 square miles (1,483 square kilometres) it is also Europe’s largest area of protected night sky. Due to its pristine skies it was awarded gold tier designation by the International Dark Sky Association, making it officially the best place in England for people to go to enjoy the heavens” (Visit Northumberland).

to replace the seasonally brewed “Curlews Return”, we have introduced the Allendale Brewery’s “Dark Skies” strong ale. At 7% ABV this robust ale is based on an old Victorian recipe and brewed with all UK ingredients. It is well hopped and balanced with the variety of malts, hiding the strength within – even on a cloudy night, with a couple of these you may be seeing stars!

The summer is now well underway and with the warm weather continuing we wanted to add a fresh new breakfast special – light but tasty! Already a popular choice as we head in to the second week of August, we are serving a generous slice of toasted sourdough bread topped with an avocado and tomato smash – with a squeeze of lime for a little zing – and topped with crispy smoked bacon and a local free-range poached egg. Perfect for a summer morning!

The village of Bardon Mill is a 30 minute (downhill) walk from Layside and well worth a visit if only to appreciate a good coffee and home-made scone, cake or sandwich at the Village Store and Tea Room. Positioned adjacent to the Village Green, the store is at the heart of the village and owner Mike provides a warm welcome seven days a week. Opposite is the Errington Reay pottery which started life as a water-powered woollen mill in the mid-1700s before it was burnt down by an employee, Harvey, whose ghost is said to remain in the upstairs of the building. The pottery was founded in 1878 by William Reay and Robert Errington. Originally specialising in clay sewerage pipes then from the 1970s (following the advent of plastic pipes), it diversified to produce garden pots, which quickly became popular with clients from across the country.
The park is also well worth a visit – Bart took a short stroll following the Pitman’s Trail which was once the site of the Bardon Mill Colliery (once employing 300 men and producing more than 156,000 tonnes of coal every year). Following the hard work of a team of local volunteers, the reclaimed woodland is flourishing and provides a great backdrop to the state-of-the-art community building (the UK’s only earth-sheltered village hall)!

Now that July is here we hope that the glorious weather we have been enjoying over the past few weeks continues. Guests have been making good use of the outdoor space – it is not often that you can eat your breakfast outside in Northumberland without the need for a coat (or a brolly)!

For July’s breakfast special we have introduced the Layside pancake stack – a perfect option for a warm morning. Enjoy home cooked scotch pancakes with banana griddled on the Aga, garnished with berries and a healthy drizzle of maple syrup.



We can’t quite believe that it is June already. We are still blessed with some warm weather – the Northumberland moors and hills bathed in sunlight and lovely walking conditions.

New to the breakfast menu for this month is a beef brisket hash – brined with spices over five days, slow cooked in the Aga, then pulled and served with diced potatoes sauteed with onion and butter, then topped with a Bardon Mill free-range egg – designed to set you up for whatever the day holds!

Despite the drop in temperature over the past few days, the sun is shining and the promise of summer hangs in the air. The swallows have returned to nest in the outhouses and the pied wagtails have again decided that it is a good idea to nest underneath Kev’s car, so journeys are kept short and to an absolute minimum! The evening light is beautiful and if you are lucky you may see our resident Northumberland Hare and it’s young – spotted over the past few evenings in close proximity to the vegetable patch.

For a “breakfast special” for May we have introduced a breakfast quiche, using local Bardon Mill free-range eggs, Cumberland sausage, smoked bacon and mushrooms, and finished with Northumberland cheese. Freshly baked to order and served warm from the Aga, this tasty addition to the breakfast menu combines all the elements of a traditional cooked breakfast in one, delivered to your door. Enjoy!

The local market town of Hexham holds a Spring Festival every year – to be held this year on Saturday 28th April in the beautiful Abbey grounds. Organised by the Hexham Community Partnership, this family-friendly outdoor event will feature live music, food and craft stalls, dog agility and a falconry display.

Closer to Layside, the Sill will be holding it’s first Spring Fair on Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th May. Starting at 1000, traders from all over Northumberland will be selling delicious cheese, preserves, chutneys, beer, spirits and unique crafts. There will also be entertainments and a host of activities for all the family to enjoy!

Greenhead is a small village in the heart of Hadrian’s Wall Country. A village market is held at the Greenhead Village Hall on the second Sunday of every month from 10 am to 2 pm (in April it will be held on Sunday 8th)! It is a great opportunity to meet local producers with a wide range of locally produced foods and crafts on sale.

Greenhead itself is well worth a visit – the area was mined for coal from the 18th century and supported a large population of miners and quarraymen. Today this friendly village offers welcoming hostelries and tearooms and easy walks can be taken beside the river at Thirlwall. A short distance away is the Roman Army Museum and Walltown Quarry, Birdoswold Roman Fort and Thirlwall Castle.




On the menu this week for our evening meal we have a rustic French-style duck cassoulet, slow cooked in the Aga then served off the bone with smoked lardons, Toulouse sausage and cannellini beans in a rich tomato sauce. We also have a traditional country-style chicken casserole cooked on the bone with baby carrots and potatoes – both are served with crusty bread baked in the Aga. Our pudding this week is a dark chocolate orange tart, homemade and garnished with fruit.