Nether Grange Local Area

Northumberland

The picturesque village of Alnmouth was founded almost 1,000 years and quickly developed as a market community.

At the time that Nether Grange was built Alnmouth was a major port exporting grain, coal and other commodities. A Tithe Mapp produced by Thos. Wilkins' in 1791 lists 12 buildings in Alnmouth as granaries. Many of these can still be identified by the rectangular openings which are set at regular intervals along the sides. Some of these have been made windows, while others have been blocked up, the in-fill is clearly visible.

Almouth’s status as an important trading port changed overnight when, on Christmas Eve 1806, a savage storm pounded the Northumberland coast and swept the course of the River Aln away from the harbor and the fortunes of the port declined. However, with the coming of the railway in the late 19th century Alnmouth became a popular holiday destination and many of the old industrial buildings were converted to guest houses and hotels.

10 minutes’ drive inland from Anmouth takes you to Alnwick. Fast becoming one of the country's top tourist destinations, Alnwick is home to Alnwick Castle and the inspiring Alnwick Garden. It also has one of the largest second hand bookshops in the UK, Barter Books, housed in the town's old railway station.

Alnwick originally prospered in medieval times as a market town, and it still retains many of its cobbled streets, narrow alleys and fine stone buildings.

The castle, which dominates the town, was built following the Norman conquest. Home to the Percy family (the Dukes of Northumberland) for seven centuries, it boasts spacious grounds designed by Capability Brown, beautiful state rooms with Italian renaissance design, and paintings by Canaletto, Van Dyck and Titian. After Windsor Castle, it is the second largest inhabited castle in England.

Nearby Alnwick Garden features one of the world's largest tree houses and a fascinating poison garden packed full of rare and dangerous plants. There's also Hulne Park, a walled park that contains the ruins of the former Alnwick Abbey.

The towns and villages dotted around Alnwick span a scale of contrasts from cosy coastal hamlets to remote hillside communities. Head eastwards to the sea and it's like travelling back in time to villages such as Embleton and Craster, home of the famous kipper.

Then there’s the magnificent ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, perched on a grassy peninsula to the south of Embbelton Bay, Dunstanburgh was last occupied during the War of the Roses.

Inland, the countryside is a great area for walking. There are untouched hamlets and villages like Ingram and Glanton nestling on the edge of the picturesque Northumberland National Park, while to the south of Alnwick you can visit the quiet hamlet of Guyzance with its 18th century dam.

Further north lie The Farne Islands, home to an amazing seabird colony with 23 species, including around 37,000 pairs of puffin. There’s also a large grey seal colony, with more than 1,000 pups born every autumn.

The islands have strong links with Celtic Christianity and its leading light the Venerable Bede, "The Father of English History", whos tomb lies in Durham Cathedral just over an hours drive south of Almouth.

The isle of Lindisfarne is located about 2 miles off the coast, close to the border with Scotland. It is accessible at low-tide by crossing an ancient pilgrim’s path through the sand and mud flats which are covered with water at high tides.

Lindisfarne is surrounded by the 8,750-acre Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve, which protects the island’s sand dunes and the adjacent intertidal habitats.

The island is also home to the small Lindisfarne Castle, based on a Tudor fort, which was refurbished in the Arts & Crafts style by Sir Edwin Lutyens. One of the most celebrated gardeners of modern times, Gertrude Jekyll, laid out a tiny garden just north of the castle in 1911.

Once home to the kings of ancient Northumbria, Bamburgh Castle is one of Northumberland's most iconic buildings. A Grade 1 listed building, Bamburgh stands like a magnificent medaeval foretress overlooking the North Sea but, in fact, is a Victorian folly built by famed industrialist the first Lord Armstrong. Lord Armstrong was also responsible for building Cragside House near Rothbury.

This hugely innovative building and was the first house in Britain to be lit by electric light. Now managed by the National Trust, the house and gardens are a fascinating visit and are around 40 minutes' drive from Alnmouth.

Moody Warkworth Castle, a few miles to the south of Alnmouth, towers over a bend in the River Coquet and the picturesque town of Warkworth. Warkworth is just 10 minutes' drive from Alnmouth, and can also be reached using the 518 bus.

The vibrant city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne is always bustling with activity and is famed for its shopping and lively nightlife. The new Baltic arts centre and Sage Gallery are well worth a visit. Newcastle is just under an hour's drive from Alnmouth, and can also be reached by hourly local bus.

Around 1½ hours drive from Nether Grange, Hadrian’s Wall remains a powerful symbol of the Roman Empire. The most dramatic section is from Once Brewed to Housteads Roman Fort from where you can walk to some of the best preserved sections. Also worth visiting are the wall’s two museums. The Roman Army Museum near Walltown where you can gain an insight into the daily lives of Roman soldiers, and Vindolanda Roman Fort with its collection of rare Roman artefacts.