First-timers might enjoy re-vamping a town centre terrace, there are plenty to choose from. Stately piles predominate on the outskirts and can have staggering grounds and enviable river views. Find some nice, sturdy and character-packed late Victorian terraces and semis too.
Rail links to Newcastle or Carlisle via Tyne Valley stop offs are regular and reliable. The A69 is the main route to the west or east or take the A68 for a direct route to Darlington. Airport easy to reach too. This is seriously easy commuter belt stuff and house prices reflect this.
Bit of a haven for those Saturday-mooch kind of shopping sessions. Galleries, bookshops, bespoke jewellery, it’s got it all. Pick of the bunch is the nationally-renowned Re which is the place to pick up the home accessories and gifts. Scour the converted workshop at the back of a filling station in Main Street for everything from asparagus candles to a plaster Virgin Mary. At Saunders and Pugh on Hill Street discover talented goldsmiths making bespoke contemporary jewellery. Acanthus is a great place to find chic clothing and accessories from cool labels like Nougat, Sandwich and Avoca sourced by owner Gill Rowley. Her neighbouring interiors store also stocks home accessories from designers such as Emma Bridgewater.
The river is your oyster. The Tyne is wide and free-flowing and there are lovely walks along its banks. Head to the Roman fort for that history fix and wander among impressive ruins. There are regular events held there by English Heritage.
The Angel Inn is the best stop-off in these parts. A stylish bistro/restaurant hotel which pulls in locals and visitors thanks to the offer of great food and wine. Its look is contemporary and it ticks those boxes for local, fresh produce where possible. Pack a picnic at the Corbridge Larder. Something of a gourmet stop-off if you’re on a ramble. Packed to the rafters with local foods. There’s a coffee shop, too, which offers a Larder Sampler Cheese Platter with six cheeses, three Northumberland and three from the rest of the range, served with crackers and oatcakes with two cottage delight chutneys. For a taste of Italian, Il Piccollo brings traditional flavours to the town. Eat in or pick up delicatessen produce, such as olives, breads, cheeses, ham, fish, even wild boar, plus traditionally-cured meat from Italy.
My Local >>
Vicky Pepys is a PR and fashion writer. She lives in Slaley with husband Simon Young, co-owner of RE in Corbridge…
Three great things about living here >>
- We came on holiday to this area over 20 years ago from London and just fell for it. There isn’t a day goes by when we don’t appreciate how lucky we’ve been in making a complete life change. From frighteningly pressurised fashion lives in London we now live in the middle of Northumberland with nearest neighbours a field if not more away and wild raw nature all around us. Can’t count all the varieties of birds and the weather is extreme! We have a choice of being reclusive or madly sociable without having to worry if we’re disturbing others.
- Corbridge is a bustling little town (a former Roman supply fort) with a village identity; lots of independent retailers means that it’s quite a unique and interesting mix. We like Corbridge Cookshop (which must hold over 1,000 different food utensils), Stobo & Son for fruit and veg, The Forum for stationary and arts supplies and the variety and novelty value of being somewhere that isn’t a typical high street. Fashion, jewellery, art, a deli, teashops, a specialist chocolatier and a perfumery are mixed up amongst the dentist, the vet, the chemist, the post office, the butcher. If you’re in a hurry you can get all you need within the vicinity of two little streets. If on a rare sauntering kind of day you can wander around for hours and still not see everything. It’s been a perfect location for RE.
- If we go out to eat we like The Feathers at Hedley on the Hill (they’re very into local food supplies) or The Barrasford Arms for posh food, beautifully-presented and a great atmosphere. We like the welcome in The Black Bull in Corbridge – if the farmers go there it must be good we’ve found.
Three places to take visitors >>
- We like to do a bit of a tour for weekend visitors but it’s always in a such a rush… the drive from Hexham to Allenheads via Allendale, over the tops, to Blanchland and back in time for tea… up the coast for a chance to walk on the wild and stormy beaches above Alnmouth… or to Sycamore Gap (the Kevin Costner tree) and the Roman Wall. If time’s tight, we go up to Slaley Forest and pretend we’re in Kielder Forest, but without the reservoir!
- In the summer months there’s always an agricultural show or village fete going on and has been in many cases for over 150 years. All are so different, the more traditional the better and the amount of creativity and effort that goes into the organisation and the competitive entries is astounding. I’m involved in the Northumberland County Show as well as our local Slaley village show but enjoy and appreciate all the others.
- If we don’t want to go out in the car, we can walk out of the door and be in the grounds of the nearby Slaley Hall. We’re only really aware of it at tournament times, when helicopters deliver important players and the fast cars scare our pets, but there are a number of walks a couple of miles long you can take through the grounds (they even produced a leaflet) and the views up to The Cheviots from the highest point on a clear day are amazing.
In the know secret >>
The recently opened Wheelbirks Ice Cream Parlour at Wheelbirks Farm, near Stocksfield, is five minutes away by car and will be my downfall. Friends I’ve already taken there are charmed by the whole place, particularly the Guernsey cows grazing in the fields as you arrive. I’ve tried the knickerbocker glory and the sticky toffee sundae so far… in the interests of research, of course!