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Cragside House, Gardens and Estate

Cragside House and Gardens, Northumberland
Cragside House and Gardens
Cragside House and Gardens is well worth a visit for it's unique place in History. This National Trust property was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity, the revolutionary home of Lord Armstrong, Victorian inventor and landscape genius, was a wonder of it's age. It is built on a rocky crag high above the Debdon Burn, Cragside is crammed with ingenious gadgets and surrounded on all sides by one of the largest rock gardens in Europe. If you are National Trust members, entry to the Grounds and the House is free with your membership. However, the cost for non-members is not cheap and I would therefore suggest that non-members plan ahead and make a full day of their visit in order to get full value for money. 

Cragside House and Gardens, Rothbury Guide, Northumberland
Located just a mile or so outside of Rothbury, Cragside's estate is immense in size as well as stature. On arrival at the estate it's magnificence is plain to see with the visitor centre set beautifully across the lake. Once parked on one of the many tiered car parks I would recommend going the to Visitor's Centre as your first port of call. It's actually in the opposite direction from the the House, but you will learn a little about the grounds and history here that will help you appreciate the house and gardens more. There is also a National Trust Shop, Cafe and toilets. While there are also toilets in the main house courtyard, if you are intending on having a long walk around the grounds you might want to use this opportunity to visit the facilities!

Heading now back through the car park and towards the magnificent House, there is much to explore and appreciate here. Points of interest inside the house include the numerous works of art and paintings, one of the first hydraulic lifts in the world and the stunning ten ton marble fireplace in the Drawing Room that was ingeniously built into the crag-side itself to support it's immense weight. There are extremely knowledgeable volunteers in many of the rooms and a quick chat with these friendly people always adds to the appreciation of each room.

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Your insider tip: Cragside Gardens are at their most spectacular in late spring when literally tens of thousands of rhododendrons are in full bloom. 

Cragside House and Gardens, Rothbury Guide, Northumberland
The Grounds themselves are spectacularly landscaped and have a lot to offer, don't be in a rush to leave once you've 'seen' the House. There is a minibus that runs a shuttle service between the key points of the Estate if you aren't able to walk the rocky crags. My favourite part of the grounds are the Formal Gardens. To get here head down the crag in the front of the house, over the attractive iron bridge and follow the signs up the other side of the crag. It is an effort to get here (unless you use the shuttle service) but the reward is a beautiful garden and breathtaking views of the Coquetdale countryside. Although worth visiting at any time of year, the formal gardens are perhaps at their best in August when a huge long border of Dahlias are in full bloom.

Other things to do in the grounds of the estate include many guided and marked walks (see the visitors centre for more information) and a fantastic Adventure Play Area and labyrinth for the kids, which provided most of my childhood memories of Cragside and has only been improved with time. Dotted around the estate you will also find various lakes and picnic areas to stop off and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Dogs are welcome on to the estate, but must be kept on a lead at all times.

Cragside House and Gardens, Rothbury Guide, Northumberland
When you are eventually back at your car and it comes time to leave, I would recommend driving around the estate before exiting. The standard exit route is to drive towards the house, through the courtyard and on to an exit a few hundred yards further on. It makes a far nicer drive to ignore this first exit and continue through the estate, there is an almost circular route that takes in some wonderful views. After this lively drive you will eventually reach another exit, almost back at the visitor centre where you started.

Postcode for your SatNav: NE65 7PX