Cragside is one of the most beautiful sites within Northumberland National Park, and incredibly popular for days out in the North East. It is also, in my opinion, the best National Trust site here in the North East! It isn’t very far from a town called Rothbury and is just 20 or so minutes north of Morpeth.
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A brief history of Cragside
It was created by Lord and Lady Armstrong during the 19th century who was an incredible couple of people. Lord Armstrong was nothing short of an engineering genius and has helped shape the practices of modern mechanics. Lady Armstrong was just as incredible and she very much had a green finger and an interest in the natural sciences. This influential couple was gifted the land we now know as Jesmond Dene for their wedding present in 1835 where the couple first had a go at landscaping. They created Jesmond Dene as we know it today before moving onto Cragside where they did it again, but bigger and better!
Cragside House was the first house in the world to have lighting powered by Hydro-Electricity. It is also of the Victorian era with much detail being put into the house design itself.
How to get to Cragside:
Postcode: NE65 7PX
Driving there from Sunderland was a very easy drive. We opted for the A1 route (you can take the A19 and go through the Tyne Tunnel if you want). You then follow the A1 regardless to just after Morpeth where you turn left onto the A697. You stay on that road for about 15 minutes until you see the sign for Cragside. It took just over an hour to get there and the route was really easy to follow!
Parking at Cragside:
There are a number of car parks around the area you can park in. None of the car parks was full and there were still plenty of spaces throughout the day. However, on a busy day such as school holidays or bank holidays, I can imagine it gets incredibly busy!
Tickets and Booking Cragside:
There is no longer any kind of booking system in place at Cragside, you can simply turn up and buy your tickets there. You pull up to the gate and there is a members queue and non-members one. You pay there, and if you have questions the staff are so helpful they will direct you to the best place to park for whatever you want to visit! However, I do believe that if it is full to capacity, then they will have to turn you away so if you want to visit then arrive early, and plan a backup!
The site is open 10am-5pm in High Season. From November however, the house will close for the season and will reopen in the springtime. The site will also close at 3pm during this time with the shop only opening on weekends.
Keep a check on the open times HERE as they may change.
Standard Ticket costs are as follows during High Season:
Family tickets are also available.
During Low Season (from 31st October – spring time) tickets cost:
Keep an eye on their prices on their website to make sure you have the right prices!
Things to do at Cragside:
One of the main things to do here is of course explore Cragside House. The outside of the building is absolutely stunning. The inside, however, is somehow even better!
It has been completely preserved as if Lord and Lady Armstrong are still living there with their two children. Their magnificent kitchen is still stocked, the table is laid, their bedrooms are lived in, and the billiard table is set up and ready to play.
The Victorian house has just been paused in time and makes for a really fascinating place to explore.
Lady Armstrong loved natural things, especially seashells. So the house is home to 7000 shells that she collected over the years. They are still cleaning them and putting them on display which you can watch in the upstairs gallery.
All of the gardens and grounds are open which is the other main element of Cragside. The only way to describe this place is otherworldly because when you are walking around it does not feel like you are 20 minutes from Morpeth. It is utterly beautiful. Even today when it was fairly grey skies and cold it was incredible. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to go!
I feel like when people do go, they focus on the house and the beauty of the architecture. But there is so much more to this site. There are so many routes you could take around this place you could have a completely different experience every time you go. So what I am going to do, is share some of my favourite spots for you, and this way there is still some mystery left for you to explore yourself!
Cragsides Iron Bridge
One of the best viewpoints of the house is from the Iron Bridge, all the best photos of Cragside are either taken from it, or from the riverbank below it.
It is very easy to find, especially if you have parked at the main car park beside the entrance. Simply follow the signs to it which will take you past the pumphouse, down some stairs and along the riverbank to it. You can’t miss it!
From the iron bridge, you absolutely need to visit the Formal Gardens. This is the most recent place I have discovered at Cragside, after visiting several times!
If you are standing on the bridge looking at the house, do a full 180, and follow the path away from the house. This will take you up the bank to the gardens.
This is not very well signposted and it does feel very much like a hidden gem within Cragside, however, it has become my favourite part of the site and definitely somewhere I want to explore more of!
You are treated to a beautiful view over Rothbury which is simply stunning. You can also explore the various levels of the gardens. Don’t miss the lily pond at the top!
There are two lakes you can walk up to, and a number of clearly signposted routes you can follow easily. Overall the entire area is very well signposted which I think is necessary as you could easily get lost!
If you were to bring a pushchair or wheelchair, the best walk is the Nellys Moss walk which is around the two lakes at the top of the site. There is disabled parking up there too which makes it really easy for you if needed. This walk is around 1.5 miles and it is incredibly pretty up there!
You can also do the carriage drive. This is a 6-mile drive around the outer edge of the site which is a very nice way to end your visit! You drive past many of the main places including through the courtyard of Cragside House!
The tearoom is open for takeaway as is the smaller takeaway outlet near the large play area (which is not open yet). You can also get lost through Nelly’s Labyrinth. And most importantly, the toilets are all open!
More information on routes and a map is available here.
Finally, Cragside is very generous in seating areas. There were so many picnic benches dotted around the place that it makes perfect sense to take a picnic with you. We stopped up by the lake and it was just a perfect place to stop and take in the view. The only thing to remember with this is that BBQs aren’t allowed.
Things to remember about your visit to Cragside:
- Take your rubbish with you
- Don’t forget your mask for going into the tearoom or toilets
- Wear sensible shoes as the terrain is uneven
Thank you for reading this post, I hope you enjoyed it and found it helpful for you when planning your visit to Cragside. As always, if you do enjoy my posts then I’d love it if you could drop your email address below to be notified of every new post I upload.
Stay Safe, Happy Adventuring
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