A warm welcome awaits you at our holiday cottage on Brackenside, a traditional family run farm set amidst wonderful countryside with views of the magnificent Cheviot Hills and the outstanding Northumberland coastline.
Within the 17th Century farm steading you will find this luxurious yet charming conversion of a traditional stone building to make your holiday a once in a lifetime experience.
Over the past three centuries the farm has expanded and developed into a range of newer buildings leaving the traditional steading free of farm activity. Here you will also find a table tennis room ready for those on holiday in the Old Smithy.
Your visit will be enhanced by views of cattle grazing with their calves, lambs gamboling happily in the fields with their mothers and hens scratching around the farmyard. Our guests are welcome to wander around the farm and through the various woods, each with their own individual charm and variety of wildlife waiting for you to explore and enjoy. One wood now has a firepit and a stone circle where you can relax with a picnic or barbecue and a glass of wine (not provided!). Fossil hunting is a popular activity in another of our woods. All the woodland is managed to provide firewood as well as all the fencing materials for the farm.
When sitting in front of the woodburning stove you can relax in the knowledge that the wood comes direct from the farm, about as sustainable as you can get!!!
As its name suggests the building was originally a Smithy for visiting farriers to the farm with an adjoining stable, now a large kitchen. In the spacious living room we have retained the original forge chimney for the wood burning stove which provides additional warmth and comfort to supplement the central heating.
As well as this delight the living room has comfortable furniture, TV, DVD player and a large collection of books and games. It opens straight onto the attractive walled garden with fantastic views of the Cheviots and the surrounding countryside.
A stripped pine table sits in the middle of the well-equipped kitchen with its electric oven, gas hob, microwave, washing machine with tumble dryer and dishwasher.
The cottage comfortably sleeps 6 people in 3 bedrooms of which two have twin beds and one has a double bed. The bathroom is downstairs with a shower over the bath to meet all needs. Upstairs is another loo and hand basin alongside the light and airy twin room with large Velux window which has a stunning view over farmland to the the Cheviot hills.
Everything you need is on one level meaning that the Old Smithy is suitable for those using a wheelchair.
The farm has been run by the same family for over 50 years and daily routines are undertaken by both John and George Barber who are ably assisted by Alastair, who has worked for the farming partnership for over 30 years. We have recently taken on a farm apprentice, Theo, who was first introduced to the delights of Brackenside on a farm holiday to the Old Smithy. We have a herd of 90 suckler cows who calve in the Spring and three handsome Limousin bulls called Leamington, Glen and Jubilant.
The animals are grazing out in the fields for most of the year and are checked daily. If you would like to tour the farm while on holiday then you can accompany them on this ‘farm safari’. Collecting the eggs is another popular activity for visitors to the farm – adults and children alike. We lamb our flock of 300 sheep towards the end of March. We welcome visitors to the lambing shed for our very own ‘lambing live’.
Growing wheat and oats are an important part of our farm rotation. The wheat is sold for making bread, biscuits, whisky and animal feed. The oats are sold for porridge making, muesli, flapjacks and oatcakes as well as animal feed. Next time you munch into a Nairn’s oatcake just think that it might be made with oats from Brackenside.
We have three friendly collies working on the farm – Meg, Mo and Sam. You are welcome to bring your well-behaved dogs on holiday with you.
As farmers we care about the environment and our efforts have been rewarded by our acceptance onto the higher level stewardship scheme which ensures that we manage our hedgerows to encourage wildlife and that we develop wildlife friendly field margins. Most of the water on the farm comes from a borehole on the farm, this water is exceptionally pure and chlorine free. Currently over 10% of the farm is woodland, with a mix of both broadleaved and deciduous trees woods of varying ages and species. All of them are wildlife havens for squirrels, badgers, deer and foxes as well as a wealth of different birds. Why not come and discover what is there for yourselves?
The run-off water from the farm steading flows into our reed bed system to minimise diffuse pollution. We currently have red and grey squirrels on the farm but are working with the Save our Squirrels group in Berwick to control the grey squirrels before they eradicate our indigenous reds.
Brackenside is situated in a lovely peaceful setting. You will be spoilt for choice in this delightful part of the country. It is a land of huge skies, miles of white, sandy beaches, the wild, lonely beauty of the Cheviot hills, a multitude of castles and small fishing villages.
Drivers and cyclists will delight in our quiet uncrowded roads, with the coastal Sustrans route running nearby.
A no-car day would enable you to explore the farm and enjoy the varied wildlife. Maybe you will encounter a deer in the woods or witness some hares boxing. You could catch a glimpse of a badger amongst the extensive range of badger setts or catch a sighting of a squirrel. Both red and grey squirrels currently live on the farm. As part of the Save our Squirrels group we are controlling the grey squirrels. Rabbits, hedgehogs, frogs toads and newts have also made the farm their home. Birdwatchers would enjoy a rewarding time as a huge variety of birds live on the farm. Buzzard numbers are increasing and can often be heard overhead as well as curlews. We are sometimes lucky enough to see and hear barn owls out feeding in the evening.
There are many walks to be taken further afield from the farm. One of our favourites is to the cup and ring markings dating from 2000BC at Routing Linn passing via Goats Crag Hill or the old mine workings on the nearby Nature reserve at Ford Moss. Another possibility is to walk to Etal over Slainsfield Moor for a well earned drink cup of tea at the Lavender Tea rooms.
The nearest villages of Lowick and Ford both have village shops to meet your basic shopping needs. The Ford and Etal estate is nearby with a restored working mill and a wonderful miniature railway at Heatherslaw and beautiful murals by Lady Waterford in the former school at Ford.
The delightful market town of Wooler is only 10 miles away and as well as being the ‘Gateway to the Cheviots’ has a range of shops including a wholefood shop, a supermarket, 3 butchers, delightful cafes and antique shops.
In the other direction is the border town of Berwick upon Tweed ringed with the only complete Elizabethan walls in the country and offering the visitor a choice of supermarkets, 3 art galleries, an Arts Centre, good shopping and a leisure centre.
Harry Potter is still in residence at Alnwick castle where you can also visit the hugely popular Alnwick Gardens or enjoy some shopping. A visit to the largest second hand bookshop in the country at Barter Books is to be recommended.
A visit to Northumberland would not be complete without a visit to the Farne Islands which is home to a large number of nesting birds in the Spring and early summer as well as being home for a huge colony of Atlantic Grey seals.
The beautiful tidal island of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, is within sight of Brackenside and well worth a visit. You can visit the Priory, see a copy of the famous Lindisfarne Gospels, explore the castle and lime kilns or walk on the beautiful beaches.
The National Trust and English Heritage both manage a number of properties in the area including Cragside, Wallington, Etal castle, Norham castle, Dunstanburgh castle and Lindisfarne castle.
Further afield is the cultural city of Edinburgh renowned for its festival, arts and music venues, the National Museum of Scotland, a superb castle and great shopping experiences.
Heading South is the city of Newcastle and Gateshead where the Millennium bridge links the dramatic riverside developments, including the Sage and Baltic. A visit to the iconic Angel of the North is highly recommended.
Both are easily accessible by road or, in more relaxing style, on the East Coast railway line.
Brackenside is an excellent choice for a holiday with your kids. Our three London-based children (aged seven, five and nearly one) count down the days to our annual visit and the chance to be part of a working farm with all the fun and freedom that entails. The farm itself provides plenty of entertainment such as feeding the chickens and following Farmer George on his rounds but they also love the many attractions of this beautiful part of the country. North Northumberland offers so much for a family break, from building sandcastles on any number of lovely wild beaches to exploring one of the many castles in the area, a gentle walk in the Cheviots to canoeing on the Tweed, exploring Holy Island to reading books and watching the model train go round at Barter Books in Alnwick, the list goes on and on and on. Come and see for yourself, you won’t be disappointed. Why would we keep coming back?
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