There are so many hidden gems in Northumberland – and this is a great one to visit. Just a short drive from Layside can be found this lovely waterfall and swimming hole – the perfect spot for a picnic on a warm sunny day like today. Enjoy a (bracing) swim, or just sit back and enjoy the beauty of this quiet spot!


We enjoyed a beautiful day today with blue skies and a very pleasant 19 degrees in the spring sunshine – hard to believe that this time last year we were buried under 4 ft snow drifts! We heard the calling of our first curlews of the season as they return to the National Park to breed – which means that the hugely popular “Curlews Return” ale from the Allendale Brewery will shortly be retuning to the drinks menu!! Fingers crossed for more glorious weather this week – perfect for walking and exploring the National Park, and fantastic dark skies too!

It has been a cold weekend with snow underfoot, making for fresh walking and stunning landscapes. Our guests have been taking full advantage of the winter conditions, bringing beautiful sunsets and stunning Dark Skies. The local Northumberland lamb shank shepherds pies have been going down a treat too!!

In 1981, George R. R. Martin stood by Hadrian’s Wall, taking inspiration from the landscape and the history, subsequently creating the fictional “Game of Thrones” – and it is easy to see how this stunning winter landscape can capture the imagination. Bart is definitely enjoying the frost and snow underfoot!

Bart enjoyed his first walk on Hadrian’s Wall – following in Archie’s footsteps on one of his (and our) favourite circular trails. Now at 5 months old, he had his first experience of this rugged and beautiful landscape, with many more to come. He did well and managed a good 2 hour walk, stopping half way for a snack (and a good bite of my pastrami and cheese sandwich) to keep up the energy levels!

Now, with the Layside breakfasts delivered to our guests, we may take a return journey but head east this time. Sycamore Gap is looking stunning this morning – following the brutal winds delivered by storm Ali, it is always a relief to see that the tree is still standing!


Scarecrow festivals are popular in the UK, where the use of the scarecrow as a protector of crops dates back hundreds of years. In medieval Britain, scarecrows were young boys who were tasked with the responsibility of scarring away birds, patrolling the fields with bags of stones to throw at the crows and starlings. The Great Plague of 1348, however, wiped out half the population and not enough boys could be found, so sacks were stuffed with straw and faces carved in turnips – and so was born the scarecrow as we know it today.

Every year, hundreds of villages all over Britain bring coolur, vibrancy and fun to the countryside by organising Scarecrow Festivals, where residents compete with each other to build the best scarecrow from whatever material they can lay their hands upon! Bardon Mill and Henshaw runs a scarecrow trail each year – a “scarecrow map” can be purchased from Mike’s Village shop in Bardon Mill, along with a voting form – a fun way to explore the Village and get to know the residents! For those wishing to participate, voting forms must be returned to the Village shop by 8th September, with the winners to be announced at the Presentation Night and BBQ at the Bardon Mill village hall on 15th September.

We have voted for our favourites – some of the best from past and present shown!



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)!

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.



The walk from Walltown to Chollerford  takes in many of the most spectacular sections of Hadrian’s Wall, including the Sycamore Gap. Northeast Guides are offering the opportunity to walk this section of the wall with them, giving you the chance to enjoy 17.5 m / 27 km of stunning Northumberland. Choose your own Charity and collect your sponsorship, and this can be a great event for single walkers or groups. Current dates available are May 6th/20th, June 3rd/17th, and July 1st/15th (Northeast Guides do require at least 4 persons participating on each walk).

For more information contact Paul Mitchenson at Northeast Guides:

http://Guided Walk Walltown-Chollerford

Why not stay with us at Layside beforehand to prepare, or afterwards to recover?!

Haltwhistle is a small town in Tynedale, Northumberland, approximately 10 minutes drive from Layside. Walking festivals are organised by a group of enthusiastic volunteers who wish to share their love of the local area with others. All walks are guided by trained leaders who aim to provide interesting routes and good information about the area in a friendly and sociable atmosphere. The Spring Walking Festival runs from April 28th to May 7th, and there will be 24 guided walks over the 10 day period as well as 2 evening events.

For a full list of events and for bookings, please visit:

Haltwhistle Walking Festival 2018