I picked up a leaflet for Cragside and kept it as I thought it looked interesting. Then Calv started talking about an ‘electricity’ house. We eventually determined it was one and the same place (as Cragside was the first house in the world to be powered by hydro-electricity).
Cragside is situated near the village of Rothbury. It’s a huge estate comprising 1000 acres, 5 lakes (created by William Armstrong to help create the hydro-electricity to power the house). There are 14 waymarked walks (both long, short and interchangeable), a boathouse, ‘trim trail’ and a circular drive around the whole estate (with several car parks to stop off in and pick up 1 of the trails).
With so much to do it’s not cheap (£18.80 for the house and estate) although it is cheaper from the beginning of November until 18th December) and, trust me, it IS worth it 🙂It is also very popular which meant we were in a bit of a queue to get in, but it was very well managed and moved quickly. Having parked up we headed down to the old stables complex and spent some time reading the story of Lord William Armstrong, a Victorian inventor who built this place up from scratch, adding several innovative inventions. These included the main attraction, i.e. powering the house by hydro-electricity, an early lift and a dishwasher!
This story is contained around several of the old stable stalls and is extremely interesting – you’re unlikely to leave without reading it all 🙂
Before heading down to explore the estate further we stopped for a cuppa and cake in the tearooms. We then headed out to explore via the Archimedes screw, the pump house and the power house. Again all very interesting – we were in the pump house for an absolute age as Calv was trying to understand exactly how it all worked 🙂 There are lots of hands on, interactive displays which would have been absolutely perfect for the group of schoolchildren who were behind us on the trail.
The walk back up to the house from the power house is actually very steep! We headed across the picturesque iron bridge, over the beautifully landscaped rock gardens to reach the house itself.
The house started as a simple hunting lodge that grew over the years with several additions. It is an amazing spectacle – even though you spend an age wandering around the house and see an awful lot of it, you know that there is so much more to explore..
The tour took in the kitchens (where there was a cooking demonstration going on – it smelled amazing). In here you could see a primitive dish-washer and also pop down to the basement to see the workings of the lift.
One of the other stand out features of the house is the Turkish bath suite!
And also the suite that was built especially for royal visitors, with a fantastic view of the rock gardens and iron bridge. There were still more delights as the house went on and on!
Having finished in the house we went back to get the car and follow the circular drive around the estate. There were several car parks on the route where any one of the 14 waymarked walks started, ended or passed through.
We stopped a few times and took a few walks around the lakes, to see the boathouse and also the wooden trough that carried water down the hill (it was quite a long, muddy walk to get to the trough..!)
This was one of our favourite days out and if we were in the area we would absolutely return 🙂