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!

It is always a lovely sight to see spring lambs in the fields surrounding Layside. The weather has improved and these new arrivals are enjoying some long awaited sunshine.

We took our first walk yesterday without Archie at our side. A ten minute walk up the road took us to The Sill, and it was a glorious day to enjoy a cup of tea and a snack on the living roof, with fantastic sun-drenched views of the Whin Sill and Hadrian’s Wall. Planted to replicate the unique natural grasslands of the surrounding area, The Sill’s fully accessible living roof sweeps gently upwards, giving visitors a bird’s eye vantage point across one of the UK’s most magnificent landscapes and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall. Sad to be without our loyal companion, but uplifted by the sheer beauty of Northumberland on a sunny day.

  

 

It is with great sorrow that we had to say goodbye to our black labrador Archibald yesterday. He was not only a loyal companion, best friend (and of course “hairy brother” to Eddie), but he was our inspiration. We all fell in love with this part of Northumberland together with long walks along Hadrian’s Wall, and his enthusiasm and energy was boundless. He was instrumental in our dream of setting up a B&B which was dog-friendly, and Layside will not be the same without him. Gone, but never forgotten.

  

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.

 

 

 

We are currently snowed in at Layside with 3-4ft of drifting snow in places, however Northumberland National Park still looks stunning. On the menu tonight is one of our featured “stew for two” evening meals – a pigs cheek and chorizo casserole, hot from the aga, served with warm crusty bread. It’s not all doom and gloom!!

Steel Rigg car park is a short distance from Layside, and a great place to start and finish a circular walk. Whereas most choose to head east following Hadrian’s Wall towards Sycamore Gap and Housesteads, this morning we chose to head west. Following the road from the car park, walking west takes you past Melkridge Common with Winshields Crags and Hadrian’s Wall to your left. The paved surface of this little-used road makes this part of the walk easy going and relatively flat with wide verges for well behaved dogs to roam off the lead. On reaching the T junction, turn left, and after a short distance the road meets the Pennine Way. Turning left will take you back towards Steel Rigg following the Roman wall, and although this part of the walk is moderate with the odd strenuous (but short) climb, you are rewarded with spectacular 360 degree views of Hadrian’s Wall Country and beyond. We allow 1.5-2 hours for this circular walk, which gives us plenty of time to stop and enjoy the dramatic and picturesque landscape!

    

    

Following on from the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch over the last weekend in January, farmers, land managers and gamekeepers are being urged to count birds between Friday February 9th and Sunday February 18th, hoping to record much loved birds such as the barn owl, bull finch, lapwing, grey partridge, tree sparrow and yellowhammer. We will be taking part at Layside where we enjoy seeing a variety of birdlife, as well as Roe Deer and the odd Northumberland Hare.

A short drive from Layside is the market town of Haltwhistle, claiming to be at the geographical centre of Britain. The South Tyne Trail can be accessed from behind the railway station at Haltwhistle, and follows the South Tyne River to Lambley Viaduct and beyond. There are some lovely views of the river as well as Hadrian’s Wall Country, and plenty of opportunities for your four-legged friends to cool off in the water. Salmon can also be seen jumping upstream in Autumn as they migrate to their breeding grounds. This part of the trail is roughly 4.5 miles one way to the viaduct, and requires some sturdy footwear in parts! Comprising of a series of elegant stone arches, Lambley Viaduct is approximately 850ft long and once carried the Haltwhistle to Alston railway which opened in 1852 to haul coal from the Alston mines, and was closed in 1976. It is a particularly elegant example of Victorian engineering: the river is crossed by nine 56 ft wide arches 105 ft above the river. This is a favourite walk of ours and loved by Archie – stopping at the viaduct for a cup of tea and a sausage roll before turning back.

           

There are a number of short, medium and long walks to be enjoyed from Layside. On a clear day, even a stroll around the block provides some exhilarating views of the Tyne Valley, Hadrian’s Wall and beyond.

A very Happy New Year from Layside – we look forward to welcoming you to this beautiful part of Northumberland in 2018.

We also welcome your four-legged friends, and with so many great walks from the doorstep they too can make the most of the stunning countryside, whatever the weather. Our 12 year old black lab proves that he is never too old to have fun in the snow!