Monday, 2 September 2013

Cragside - Northumberland

Yesterday was the day.
The day that I'd be setting out early to get to a new country house I'd just heard about literally 24 hours before yesterday. Cragside had been the home to the inventor of Lord Armstrong but now is a property of the National Trust and opened to tourists (and dogs!). I'd just gotten my (young persons :D) National Trust membership on Saturday and was desperate to use it to go to properties I'd normally have to pay for had I not joined. I was also looking forward to a good afternoon tea and a nice walk in the garden and house that Cragside had to offer.

Unlike some of the other properties I'd looked up, Cragside was one of those that was accessible via public transport (i.e. a bus). Annoyingly the bus that takes you there, the 508, from Newcastle only comes twice every Sunday until October. There are ways of getting to Cragside on the weekday through public transport as well but it only comes once every hour and wouldn't take you directly up to the entrance; it would stop in the town, Rothbury, which was right next to it. Being on a student budget and the fact that I am not yet qualified to drive (cries*), I had no choice but to take the public transport option. And so the day began at 8:10am, with me scoffing down a quick breakfast and speed clothing changing before hurtling towards the train to get up to Newcastle. On arriving, I quickly headed towards the bus stop, in anticipation of my journey and adventure ahead. Despite the bus coming 15 minutes late and the fact that it would take a little bit less than 2 hours to get to Cragside, I continued to stay cheery in the sudden cold and windy weather. Nothing, I thought to myself, could spoil my day.

 Pretty architecture at Darlington station

The stunning Angel of the North from afar in Gateshead on my way up to Newcastle

Obviously I had some assumptions 
(loads actually) of what Cragside estate would looked like. I'd been to some other properties with a home/ hall and gardens (Walmer Castle and Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens are two on the top of my head, but we'll leave their stories for another day). The house to me looked like a huge version of the house owned by the seven dwarfs in Snow White, and I assumed that I'd be walking through a garden with flowers, shrubs, trees, you know, the usual jazz you'd expect in a garden. I only had 4 hours at Cragside before I was due back on the bus so I'd planned to leave an hour for lunch and the remaining time for the estate. Clearly, I hadn't done enough research prior to my departure. Not only was I amazed at the gorgeous and large lake that awaited me at the entrance to the estate, but I was absolutely flabbergasted  that the entire estate was around 400 hectares big! To top it off, there were around about 100 rooms inside the country house itself, and only 1/3 of it was actually opened to the public!

From this, Cragside doesn't look like a huge place but definitely a nice one....

THIS is what I ended up seeing

It was clear that I'd have to come again

Filled with gardens (yup, not just one), waterfalls, wooden bridges, forest, wildlife, a clock tower, power house etc. (and yes the list does go on), Cragside had me occupied for the entire day; my camera iphone is currently suffering from an overload of visual information. What was also good about the enormity and structure of the estate was that it had you constantly walking on different surfaces (e.g. rocky, flat, sloped, grassy etc.), which was good for someone like me who was literally STUFFED with the delicious treats Cragside's cute tea room had to offer!

The food at Cragside <3

A memorable day definitely, and it was just such a beautiful place to explore and enjoy nature in. Every corner and sight I saw inspired me to come up with a new story, stories of which I would form the basis of my drawings/ fashion illustrations (i.e. my all-time hobby). My aim is to walk on every path the estate has to offer - not at once (obviously), but eventually. But for now my fellow readers, enjoy looking through the pictures of my "big day out" at Cragside. Hopefully, it'll persuade you to come roaming up north to enjoy this glorious gem.

The quirky finds at Cragside...



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