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North East England – Indoor activities for wintry days

Other posts by  |  Sheelagh Caygill on Google+ |  December 31, 2011 | 0 Comments

What to do on Wintry days, Northumberland, Scottish Borders, Newcastle

Lindisfarne Castle

Lindisfarne Castle

Winter in the North can, admittedly, be challenging at times.

The days are short and, if the weather isn’t good, outdoor activities have to be postponed.

But if the weather does turn bad there are plenty of indoor attractions to explore and enjoy.

Here are some of thisisnorthumberland.con’s favourite indoor attractions. These places are all open during the winter season, although some do have limited opening hours. Please check before visiting.

  • Tweeddale Museum and Gallery, Peebles

The Chambers Institution was established by William Chambers, one of the founders of the famous publishing house, in 1859.

The museum and gallery present a lively programme of exhibitions in this historic building throughout the year. The Chambers’ Room houses the extraordinary friezes commissioned by William Chambers and also a permanent exhibition on the history of Peebles and the surrounding area.

  • Woodside Walled Garden, near Jedburgh

Woodside is an independent plant centre and cafe based in a lovely old walled garden, just north of Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders.

Woodside cafe © Woodside Walled Garden

It’s a beautiful place and a real gem. The garden is lovely with a huge range of plants for sale. The centre’s cafe is one of the best in the region and serves freshly prepared homemade food.

Diners can warm themselves next to the log-burning stove and watch birds busy at the feeders outside.

The cafe also exhibits local artists. There are walks in and around Woodside as well as a wildlife and kitchen gardens too.

  • Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island

Another imposing and dramatic location – this time on a rocky crag and accessible via a three-mile causeway at low tide only.

Lindisfarne Castle is one of the UK’s favourite, and possibly one of the most photographed, castles in Northumberland alongside Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh.

Originally a Tudor fort, Lindisfarne was converted into a private house in 1903 by the young Edwin Lutyens. The small rooms are full of intimate decoration and design, with windows looking down upon the charming walled garden planned by Gertrude Jekyll.

The property also has several extremely well-preserved 19th-century lime kilns.

  • Chain Bridge Honey Farm Visitor Centre, Berwick-upon-Tweed

The Chain Bridge Honey Farm Visitor Centre lets you discover first hand the extraordinary tale of bees and the production of honey.

The centre is open all year-round and features a bee and vintage vehicle museums as well as a cafe housed on a restored Routemaster bus.

  • Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh

Perhaps the most imposing fortress in England, Bamburgh Castle sits high on a basalt crag and dominates this part of the beautiful north Northumberland coast.

There has been a  settlement here since just after the Romans left. Bamburgh’s recorded history begins in 547 – so be prepared for a  journey back in time. Kids in particular will enjoy this castle.

Open at weekends until February 10, 2012, between 11am-4.30pm and thereafter daily 10am-5pm until October 31.

  • Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, near Morpeth

Belsay Castle

Belsay Castle © Gail Johnson –

Belsay is a fascinating place with a mix to make everyone happy.

It has a grand medieval castle which was later extended to include a magnificent Jacobean mansion and offers stunning views from the top of the tower.

Belsay Hall – cared for by English Heritage – is an architectural masterpiece inspired by the temples of ancient Greece, with an impressive pillar hall. It all sits in huge grounds featuring a great range of shrubs and flowers.

The unique Quarry Garden is a fantasy of ravines, pinnacles and exotic plants.

  • Wallington Morpeth

Wallington Morpeth’s picturesque Palladian mansion was begun in 1688  and was home to many generations of the Blackett and Trevelyan families.

It is unique in that its landscaped grounds are open 365 days of the year – even on Christmas Day – although the house closes over the winter. For the first time, however, the mansion will be opening its doors for the February school half-term this year.

The extensive grounds, woods, lakes and impressive walled garden with its conservatory are known for their tranquility and are beautiful at any time of the year.

The Clocktower Cafe offers seasonal, homemade food using the finest local produce (some from the Wallington estate itself) and there is a gift shop.

  • Woodhorn, Ashington

Woodhorn runs regular exhibitions alongside a permanent display of some of the works of the famed Pitman Painters. It is also home to the Northumberland archives, a narrow-gauge railway and colliery buildings and equipment.

Try out the self-led Time Detective Tours and there is also the chance to find out more about the winding house.

  • Great North Museum, Newcastle

The newly revamped Great North Museum: Hancock is the only natural science museum in the North of England.

Formerly just known as the Hancock, here you can see a large-scale, interactive model of Hadrian’s Wall, displays showing the diversity of the animal and plant kingdoms, objects from the ancient Greeks and mummies from Ancient Egypt. There is even a planetarium and a life-size T-Rex dinosaur skeleton.

The Living Planet display houses hundreds of creatures and with touch-screen technology you can investigate these animals and find out where they live and how they survive in such extreme places as the Arctic and deserts.

  • The Discovery Museum, Newcastle

This museum is a must for children. Full of interactive displays, here you can discover more about Newcastle’s historical and maritime and military past alongside science and technological innovations as well as take a journey through the fashion gallery.

discovery museum

The Discovery Museum © Tyne & Wear Museums

This is a place that makes learning easy and fun.

  • Blue Reef Aquarium, Tynemouth

The Blue Reef Aquarium takes visitors on amazing and exotic underwater journeys.

It has more than 40 naturally themed habitats all the way from the North East coast to tropical waters. Here you will see seals, otters, clownfish, seahorses and graceful stingrays.

You can enter a tropical rainforest with Amazonian features. There is a colony of monkeys, including pygmy marmosets and comical looking cotton topped tamarins. The aquarium also offers a programme of talks and feeding displays each day.

Do you have a favourite place to visit in or around Northumberland during the winter or when the weather is bad? Share it with us. We’d love to hear from you. Email details to

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Category: Best of Northumberland, Scottish Borders, Newcastle

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