The Sutherans: St Cuthbert’s House B&B. Five-star gold award bed and breakfast near Seahouses, Northumberland
Jeff and Jill Sutheran share their Northumberland secrets
Jeff Sutheran owns and manages Northumberland accommodation St Cuthbert’s House with his wife Jill. The B&B is a five-Star Gold Award bed and breakfast near Seahouses, Northumberland. It was established when owners Jeff and Jill Southern renovated 200-year-old listed building, which used to be a church. This Northumberland accommodation place is lovely, and has been recognised as very special through some of the awards Jeff and Jill have won at a regional and national level. They aim to make St Cuthbert’s much more than simply ‘a lovely place to stay’, and many guests have said that they’ve found something special about the former chapel and what it does to the soul!
How long have you lived in Northumberland?: We started coming here for short visits about 25 years ago, and immediately felt ‘at home on our hearts’. We made a significant change in our life, and came to live here nearly 15 years ago. We acquired the church almost by accident – we only intended to buy the Manse but the deal included this falling-down listed building next door! We renovated the church and established our business nearly five years ago
What is it about the county that appeals to you?: That can be difficult to communicate with mere words, because it requires a language of the heart and soul . . . there is something special about the character and ethos of Northumberland, which has been shaped by it being a land ‘on the edge’, a borderland. The ruggedness, and the stupendous natural beauty does it for us.
What’s your favourite Northumberland/Borders beauty spot?: I love the old road from North Charlton across the top to Chillingham. Along the way you can stop, and climb up to Ros Castle – which is really no more than a historic site, there’s no real castle as such – but the view from up there is achingly beautiful. You can see six other Northumberland castles from that point on a clear day!
Cycle route near Seahouses
Tell us about your favourite view/walk/cycle route/town/nightspot?: Being pushed for time when dealing with the demands of the business during the season, we have a relatively short circular cycle ride from our home which we enjoy as often as possible. It goes from Seahouses along all the back roads to West Fleetham, Newham and Lucker, then on to Bamburgh before heading home along the back lane from the Victoria, which is just elevated slightly to give amazing views out over the Farne Islands. If we’re in a hurry we can do it in an hour, but if there’s more time we can enjoy a pint in one of several pubs along the way! If we see more than half a dozen cars on those lanes, even in summer, it’s unusual.
The list of places to visit is endless. But some are more special than others. A trip to Northumberland/the Borders wouldn’t be complete without . . .: walking the beach for miles and finding time to remember the things that are really important to you. And having a pint in the Old Shippe in Seahouses.
Is locally produced Northumbrian/Borders food the best?: We have some amazing, fantastic local food produced in our area, and it forms a very real part of the offering at St Cuthbert’s House. Why would anyone shop anywhere else?
Do you have a preferred place to eat out in the county and why?: We can’t get past the Mizen Head in Bamburgh, which has become our default choice this past year. It’s local for us, and serves beautiful, locally sourced food. And we get served by our gorgeous daughter, who works there as a waitress at weekends!
Northumbrians’ honesty and warmth
Northumbrians and people from The Scottish Borders are renowned for the warm welcome they offer holidaymakers and day trippers alike. What do you think is the secret ingredient for this friendliness?: Honesty, integrity, and genuine warmth – which comes from knowing who we are and where we’re from.
Coast or country?: Coast for us – there’s something inspiring about the coastal landscape, beaches and castles.
Your favourite historical site?: Can I have two? Dunstanburgh, and Bamburgh Castle. I know that much of the present castle is a relatively recent structure, but I find it difficult to fully comprehend the history and importance of that site, going back to the days when Oswald and Aidan shaped much of Europe from that place. Imagine the conversations which must have occurred there!
And the best road to take a leisurely and scenic drive along?: The one I described in question four. My second choice is the trip across the top from the A1 through Chatton, and on to Wooler – especially if you pull off onto some of the back lanes along the way.
What would be your perfect day out in Northumberland and The Scottish Borders?: Walk the beach with Jill to talk about everything and nothing, then maybe cycle a few miles because I don’t do nearly enough of it any more, and then meet up to have a steak and some Northumbrian real ales somewhere with a fire crackling. Then I’d need a ride home!