On our last full day in Northumberland we opted to visit the National Trust property of Cragside near to the town of Rothbury. Being at least 60% idiot I managed to forget my National Trust card, and even though the very patient man at the gate couldn’t find any record of me, even when phoning head office, he still let us in without paying.

Cragside is an amazing house set in huge gardens with over 40 miles of footpaths. Built by William Armstrong, the main talking point was that it was the first house in the UK to have electric light bulbs powered by hydro-electric. Baron Armstrong created five new lakes to ensure that there was enough water to power all of the ‘wonderful hydraulic machines that do all sorts of things’.


Did I mention that I’m part idiot? I hadn’t checked the opening dates on the website correctly, so the house was only open on Saturdays and Sundays from the start of November. No real problem, we decided to take Nelly with us and have a good walk around the estate.

We were most intrigued by Nelly’s Moss near to the top lakes, although we gave up trying to get our Nelly to face the camera.


From the top of the highest lake we followed a path signposted towards a wooden flume. Reminiscent of the kind of contraption you would see in Western movies when panning for gold, the flume channeled water from a stream into the flume, again to ensure that the lakes were always full. However, when the lakes were full, the water would be diverted back into the stream.

After just over 5 miles we returned to the car and then drove a full lap of the estate, beginning by going through the courtyard of the house. An amazing experience and somewhere that we would love to visit again; maybe when the house is open.

One thought on “Cragside

  1. Wonderful bits of history and interesting facts along with the travelogue. Glad to know there are other functional idiots out there making a go of it! I can relate. Thanks again for the discipline to share your journey.

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