Having been a member of English Heritage and visiting what they had to offer in the North East, SOS Travel and I were lucky enough to be given some complimentary passes from the National Trust to visit some of their properties in the North East. I am now proud to say that we have since become a fully paying members of the National Trust following a recent trip to the Lake District, which Sam will cover in another blog post.
In this post I want to tell you about the National Trust sights that we have visited in the region over the passed few months and hopefully it will encourage you to visit them as well.
Gibside National Trust is set between Rowlands Gill and Burnopfield just outside of the city of Newcastle and as the National Trust put it ” A stunning 18th century landscape garden and a haven for nature on the edge of the city” Like all National Trust properties there is a good carpark which is adequate for the size and popularity of the property, as always is the case it may get very busy in peak times, including kids holidays and weekends. Directions can be found via google maps.
Gibside has beauty no matter what the season. We tend to be more fair weather so a walk through the gardens in spring/summer and early autumn time is the best in my opinion. When the flowers are in bloom and you can admire the many volunteers taking pride in their work, keeping the gardens immaculate and stunning. There is definitely a sense of community when you watch those who volunteer. A great place to chat with fellow volunteers and a way of keeping active both physically and mentally. The gardeners are happy to talk about what is on display in the garden and what they have planned for future projects. The garden also offers an educational side for children who can take part in activities which differ throughout the year.
There are a number of self guided walks if you want to take up the challenge. Colour coded and varying distances to cater for the novice stroller to the seasoned walker and those even braver who run them. Easily identifiable coloured arrows allow you to stick to your route that begin and end at the visitor reception area. You can plan your walks ahead of time at the National Trust website – walking at Gibside. I recommend pictures at the Column of Liberty where you can have some fun with your camera at the column itself and the stunning views over the Derwent Valley.
Finally the Chapel itself. Flanked by trees is a half mile turfed avenue which leads to the fabulous Gibside Chapel. Built in the 1760’s and finished in the 19th century the Chapel has been in continual use since. A popular venue for weddings and you can see why. Again you can take advantage of the very photogenic Chapel. Inside you will find a National Trust volunteer who will explain the Chapel’s history, relevant features and answer any questions you may have.
Landscape gardens, woodlands, shop and cafe – 9.30 – 18.00
Chapel – 10.00-17.00
Shop – 10.00 -17.00
Heading North into deepest Northumberland is where you can discover Cragside National Trust. A stunning setting near Rothbury. Home to William Armstrong the Industrialist who later became Lord Armstrong. Cragside was the first house in the world to be powered by hydroelectricity. Armstrong planted over 7 million trees on the estate and built 5 artificial lakes, which where used to provide electricity for the house. In 1869 renovations of the house were started and took 15 years to complete. Over the years the house has hosted guests including the Shah of Persia, the King of Siam, the Prime Minister of China and the Prince and Princess of Wales.
As you tour the grand property you can see why it has hosted such prestigious guests. Some fabulous decor and architecture, with stunning views over the gardens. Cragside has 14 marked walks to chose from with over 40 miles of footpaths around the hills, lakes and gardens. Certainly enough to stretch the legs as the national trust advertise on their site .There is also a guided route which can be driven, with various stop off points for photos, picnics and leg stretches.
Woodland – 10.00-1700
Prices vary throughout the year and depending of which parts of the property you wish to see. Click here to see up-to date prices
The final National Trust property can be found on the East Coast in South Shields. Souter Lighthouse positioned on the most treacherous section of coastline in the British Isles. It can be identified by its red and white hooped exterior and its light which was changed from a white light to red to help identify between other lighthouses on the coastline. It shines a beacon across the coastline indicating to ships that they are approaching Souter Lighthouse. This coastline has seen more ships become victim to the hazards of the seas than any other in the British Isles.
Again the engineering is maintained by volunteers who are happy to discuss the workings of the lighthouse. Once you climb the tower you will be met at the top by a volunteer who will discuss the light itself and the main features. Believe it or not it can be rotated with two fingers as it is floated of a bed of mercury. As well at the engineering behind the light, you will have fantastic views along the east coat. On a clear day which it was we could see as far as Whitby to the South and up to Bamburgh and the Cheviots to the North. A lesser known property but definitely worth a visit. Outside of the lightouse itself you can take a walk along the Leas towards South Shields itself.
This selection of National Trust properties showcases the history and craftsmanship in the region with its notable successes in engineering and science, as well as the natural beauty of the coast and countryside of the North East. It you are a National Trust member and you are in the area I recommend you give them a visit. If not I encourage others to join the National Trust to help maintain the heritage and history for future generations.
Vero – MyChancetoTravel