Experience the flavours of the North East on a culinary trip to Northumberland

    Fine views, fine food at Kielder Water. Photo: Visit Northumberland
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    If you enjoy great food, good cheer and a hearty welcome then prepare to be delighted with the fabulous variety of fine dining experiences, highly original, locally sourced pub fodder and delicious, locally produced food on offer throughout Northumberland. From Kielder Water and Forest Park in the south west of the county (England’s Best Tourism Experience 2013) to Northumberland National Park and across to the romantic castles and cliffs of Northumberland’s dramatic coastline, you’ll find foodie heaven and feasts at every turn.

    Drama, beauty, and wide open spaces on Northumberland's coast. Photo: Visit Northumberland
    Drama, beauty, and wide open spaces on Northumberland’s coast. Photo: Visit Northumberland

    Imagine you’ve just hurtled down a muddy bike track at Kielder Water and Forest Park (www.visitkielder.com) sailed across Kielder Water or gazed in awe at the star studded night skies in Northumberland International Dark Sky Park. What nicer way to round up your day than with a relaxing pint of real ale and a hearty dish of freshly caught fish, or Northumbrian lamb at the friendly, family-owned Pheasant Inn nearby? (www.visitkielder.com/pubs-inns/the-pheasant-inn-hexham). Perhaps you would prefer tea and fresh cakes at Carriages Tearoom in a renovated MK1 train carriage (www.carriages-tearoom.co.uk) Or even better, stay close to the lake and enjoy the panoramic views across the water at the comfortable, welcoming Boat Inn Restaurant and Bar (www.visitkielder.com/pubs-inns/boat-inn-restaurant).

    What else is on the menu at Doxford Hall...? Photo: Visit Northumberland
    What else is on the menu at Doxford Hall…? Photo: Visit Northumberland

    An excellent overnight stay for people who appreciate great food en route to Kielder, would be the fabulous Battlesteads Hotel and Restaurant at Wark (www.battlesteads.com). There is currently a great offer here in September of two nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast for two people at £200.00 (or three nights for £285). Head chef Eddie Shilton sources prime local ingredients and produces delicious oak smoked duck, chicken and salmon from nearby Bywell Smokery. Battlesteads grow many of their own herbs, salads, vegetables and fruit from their kitchen garden and vegetarian choices are always available. Cooking style here is primarily modern British with a selection of international choices included.

    Typical fare of Doxford Hall, Chathill. Photo: Visit Northumberland
    Typical fare of Doxford Hall, Chathill. Photo: Visit Northumberland

    Likewise Matfen Hall Hotel, (www.matfenhall.com) the ancestral home of Sir Hugh and Lady Blackett offers a selection of different dining styles from their award winning Library Restaurant (2AA rosette) to the Conservatory Bistro and Keepers’ Lodge which serves gastro pub style food. A Juice Bar in the Spa provides heathy snacks and freshly squeezed juices. Cycling breaks which include dinner, bed and breakfast, plus cycle routes and cycle storage are currently available here for just £75 per person for night for a two night stay. If you’re feeling really energetic, you can also experience the ultimate tree top adventure “Go Ape” at Matfen Hall too (www.goape.co.uk/days-out/matfen).

    Lindisfarne Inn, near Holy Island. Photo: Visit Northumberland
    Lindisfarne Inn, near Holy Island. Photo: Visit Northumberland

    Keen hikers, bird watchers and wild life enthusiasts love the rolling moors, grasslands and pure rivers of the Northumberland National Park (www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk). It’s England’s most tranquil place and extends from Hadrian’s Wall to the Scottish Border. In September you can gather blackberries in hedgerows and bilberries and cranberries on moorland and bogs. Skylarks and meadow pipits are still active and blue harebells are flowering on grassy hills. Lucky visitors may even spot otters and red squirrels. After an exhilarating climb to Northumberland’s highest point at the summit of Cheviot, or to explore the ancient hill forts at Yeavering Bell and the College Valley, a visit to the village of Wooler should definitely include a visit to the 17th-century Black Bull Inn (www.theblackbullhotel.co.uk). This traditional inn serves great home cooked pub grub and also incorporates a new Italian restaurant “Milan” which has been attracting rave reviews since it opened.

    Northumberland's  coast is a blend of dramatic cliffs and beautiful sandy beaches. Photo: Visit Northumberland
    Northumberland’s coast is a blend of dramatic cliffs and beautiful sandy beaches. Photo: Visit Northumberland

    Travelling south east for 20 minutes, you can enjoy a carefree walk along Northumberland’s dramatic coastline with the majestic Bamburgh Castle ahead and views to the Farne Islands out to sea. Perhaps you’ve even sailed to the Farnes from Seahouses and seen dolphins, seals and puffins on the way? Now you’re glowing, warm and snug in The Lindisfarne Inn (www.lindisfarneinn.co.uk) or the Bamburgh Castle Inn (www.bamburghcastlehotel.co.uk), both excellent hotels nearby offering delicious food, drink and good cheer. Both of these establishments, as well as The Hogshead Inn at nearby Alnwick (www.hogsheadinnalnwick.co.uk) are offering dinner, bed and breakfast for just £49.95 per person, per night, from November 1 until March 31.

    Kielder Water is the biggest man-made lake in Northern Europe. Photo: Visit Northumberland
    Kielder Water is the biggest man-made lake in Northern Europe. Photo: Visit Northumberland

    After all that fresh air, that night you could return relaxed and refreshed to the nearby beautiful Doxford Hall Hotel and Spa (www.doxfordhall.com) set in beautiful Northumbrian private estate and surrounded by lovely countryside where you will dine in style at the George Runciman restaurant (2AA rosette). Alternatively St Cuthbert’s House at Seahouses (www.stcuthbertshouse.com) is “England’s Best B&B 2014” and will also provide you with one of the most spectacular breakfasts you’re likely to experience.

    If self-catering is more to your taste, then you can find a range of superior, well equipped cottages throughout the County. Northumbria Coast and Country Cottages (www.northumbria-cottages.co.uk) offer over 400 cottages that they can whittle down for you to suit your requirements. Cottages in Northumberland (www.cottagesinnorthumberland.co.uk) have an excellent choice of great cottages to suit all budgets and have regular special offers.

    Great pubs for dinner in the vicinity include The Packhorse at Ellingham, with the youngest landlady in the country employing North East Chef of the Year to cook your meal; the Joiners Arms at Low Newton, The Mizen Head at Bamburgh or The Bamburgh Castle Inn at Seahouses overlooking the harbour.

    A gourmet trip to coastal Northumberland in September would not be complete without a day at Berwick Food and Beer Festival (Fri 12 – Sun 14 September) (www.berwickfoodfestival.co.uk) with 40 stalls selling delicious locally produced food and drink, workshops and children’s activities or Alnwick Food and Beer Festival (Sat 20 – Sun 21 September) (www.alnwickfoodfestival.co.uk) with 50 stalls, street entertainment and roving chefs offering pop up food demos.

    For more information on any of the above, and for wider travel information see www.visitnorthumberland.com

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