A stunning country estate near Rothbury, owned by the National Trust, so if you are not a member, plan to spend the whole day here to get value from your entrance fee.
Lots of interesting and challenging walks, it would be impossible to cover them all in a day. Most of the walks are not especially disabled friendly, in fact, some walks involve climbing up and down steep stone paths. Walks through woods, walks around lakes, walks along cliffs, walks up and down cliffs, walks through a formal garden. There is even a large maze to walk around.
Cragside was the home of Lord Armstrong and has an interesting visitor center with a restaurant. Plenty of outside seating to enjoy a coffee with your dog.
Cragside house is well worth a visit, but dogs are not allowed inside of course and it is difficult to find a shady parking spot. The good news is that there is a small cafe at the house where one person can sit with the dog while the others are in the house.
How to get there
Postcode for Satnav - NE65 7TE
From the South, head up the A1 to past Morpeth then take the A697 to the Rothbury turnoff. Cragside is well signposted from here
From the North, turn off the A1 at Alnwick and take the Rothbury road out of town. Follow this road for about 10 miles and you will see Cragside on your left just before you come to Rothbury.
You will be given a map of the site at the gate, so no maps are provided here. There are lots of walk options, some of which are:
An easy walk: Park in the main car park and walk down to the house, then down the valley to the Debdon burn. From here you can walk up to the formal gardens, or down the burn to the powerhouse, then back up to the house again.
A bit of climbing: Park in the Dunkirk car park, then walk a short distance back up the road and find a path that takes you on a steep climb up the crags. Walk along the crags a bit then find a path that takes you back down to the road again and so to your car.
A long walk along the top of the crags: Park in the Cragend Quarry car park, and walking back out of the quarry, turn right and follow the path a short way until you see signposts for 'Cockcross Stone' and 'Shepherds Hut'. Ignore both of these and follow the yellow route signposted path that takes you along the top of the crags. Follow this for a long way until you come to 'The Tarn' or 'Slipper Lake'. Turn right here and follow the path signposted 'Trim Trail' which will bring you to the Nelly Moss South lake. Here, find the path signposted 'Cragend Quarry' and that will take you back to your car.
An interesting walk: Park in the Nelly Moss Car park and head into the Labyrinth. Find your way through the maze to the Canada Car park. Cross over the road and take a path down hill to the wooden flume, follow this to Nelly Moss North lake. From here, find a path that goes back up hill and it will take you back to your car. Tip: The labyrinth runs sort of East/West between Nelly Moss and Canada car parks. If the sun is on your left you are heading towards Canada. If it is on your right you are heading towards Nelly Moss car park.
Cragside was built by William Armstrong, the famous Tyneside engineer who made his fortune making guns and building battle ships. He suffered from poor health as a child and often spent time in Rothbury to escape from the industrial Newcastle air. He returned to Rothbury in later days and built a house by the side of Debdon burn, just north of the village. This house was eventually transformed into the present day Cragside Estate.
Armstrong used his engineering skills to transform the estate, and Cragside was the first house in the world to be lit using hydroelectric power. He also installed a hydraulic engine which was used to power a hydraulic lift, laundry equipment and a rotisserie. You can still see much of this equipment in the house and the surrounding outbuildings. The water power came from the 5 lakes on the estate.
The drive round the estate is especially beautiful in the spring, when all the rhododendrons are in bloom.