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Once-in-a-lifetime experiences offered by National Trust’s online auction

Other posts by  |  Sheelagh Caygill on Google+ |  November 21, 2011 | 0 Comments

Win a chance to fish in the stunning Nelly’s Moss Lake at Cragside @ Ian Shaw

Would you like to have dinner at the top of a lighthouse or a high wire-walk around one of the region’s most iconic landmarks?

Better yet, would you like to be able to give someone close one of these experiences for Christmas?

They are just two of an amazing group of experiences being offered for auction by the National Trust.

On November 22, 2011, bids open for an auction being run by the National Trust in Yorkshire and the North East offering the opportunity to buy once in a lifetime experiences at some of the remarkable places looked after by the conservation charity.

The Trust, which not only looks after built heritage but some of the world’s most significant sites for nature conservation, has put together some amazing experiences in order to raise funds for its cause, and to offer people the chance to give their loved ones a really special gift this Christmas.

Simon Lee, property manager for the National Trust who is heading up the initiative, said: “This is a chance for people to make somebody’s Christmas. We have some fantastic one-off experiences on offer including the chance to host your own Georgian dinner party at Seaton Delaval Hall.

“The hall is an 18th century mansion house designed by Sir John Vanbrugh who also designed Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard, so you could say this is a real chance to step back in time and have your own ‘Downton Abbey’ moment.

“The auction goes live tomorrow and has something on offer for all tastes. From romantic gestures including a wedding ceremony at the ancestral home of George Washington or dinner at the top of the first lighthouse in the world to be lit by electricity, to wildlife experiences including a day with the deer warden at Fountains Abbey or an exclusive tour of the seabird and grey seal colonies of the Farne Islands.”

The full list of experiences in the North East on offer at the auction is:

Cragside, Rothbury

Access ALL Areas

A one-off opportunity for two people to roam at will through Cragside House. From the top of the tower, to the depths of the wine cellar, you can look behind every door, into every drawer and out of every window in this unique chance to get behind the scenes.

What’s more, the National Trust will arrange for an expert to accompany you, to answer every question, and ensure that you get to find out absolutely everything you ever wanted to know about the ‘Palace of the Modern Magician’, as seen on BBC’s Britain’s Hidden Heritage in August. This fabulous offer, for two people, lasts for five hours and will include lunch in the Stables tearoom. (To be redeemed between March 3 and October 28, 2012. The experience will run from 10am to 3pm, including lunch. Photography and filming permitted. This experience may take place when the house is open to the public.)

Fishing on Armstrong’s Lake

A unique opportunity for two keen anglers to try their hand at fishing for brown trout on a lake fished exclusively by Kevin Dawson of Northumbrian Fly Fishing.

You and one friend can fish Cragside’s Nelly’s Moss Lake for a whole day with Kevin on hand to give you hints and tips. You will even have picnics. A day’s fishing like no other and only available this once. (To be redeemed between March and September 2012. Experience will run between 7am-7pm. Includes equipment and boat, as well as expert tuition from Kevin Dawson. Picnic refreshments will be provided lakeside.)

Farne Islands, near Seahouses

Seabird Spectacular

Experience the sights, sounds and smells of one of the greatest seabird colonies in Europe, in an exclusive behind the scenes view of life on the Farne Islands.

You and three guests will be chauffeured by the wardens on a Zodiac power-boat from Seahouses for a day getting up close and personal view of this awe inspiring seabird sanctuary. See where the wardens live for nine months of the year and have a cup of tea in Victorian heroine Grace Darling’s childhood home. See nesting seabirds at your feet, and come within arms reach of Puffins, Arctic Terns and Eiders.

The day wouldn’t be complete without a traditional fish and chip supper in the fishing village of Seahouses. This opportunity is best taken in May, June or early July, 2012, to have the best chance of seeing the bird colonies at their peak.

Grey Seal Colony

Get a rare chance to visit the grey seal colony on the Farne Islands and see Britain’s largest mammal during their pupping season. Over 1,300 seal pups are born on the islands during the autumn months, making it England’s largest breeding population.

Win an exclusive tour of the colonies guided by the warden team, get immersed in the drama of the islands as you experience life on the edge in the harsh climate of the North Sea. Witness the trials and tribulations pups face every day with their attentive mothers close at hand. This really is an exclusive offer as you join the wardens on a trip to islands normally off limits to public visiting.

This experience is offered from mid-October-end November 2012. We recommend November as the best time as the pupping is well underway. The day will run from approximately 9am – 3.30pm to maximise winter light levels.

Gibside, Rowlands Gill

A wild night out and a cosy night in

Discover the fascinating world of nocturnal wildlife tracking after visitors have gone home at this beautiful National Trust landscape garden and woodlands. With expert tuition from Gibside’s resident wildlife ranger and cameraman, set up our filming equipment and sneak into a hide ready to capture the night time antics of an elusive family of badgers.

You’ll also get the chance to use special bat detectors to see how many of Gibside’s eight bat species you can uncover feeding and flitting around the estate.

This after-dark adventure is finished off with the thrill of a night under the stars in a cosy Mongolian yurt in a quiet corner of the woods. This unique glamorous camping experience gives you the chance to get back to nature without missing your home comforts, including wood burning stove, BBQ and even a solar powered phone charger.

The experience for up to six people.

Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

In the footsteps of the legion

Two nights in a National Trust holiday cottage at Hadrian’s Wall. The experience will include an escorted tour of the wall by expert staff, followed by an evening of wildlife watching (badgers and/or otters) with a ranger. The experience is for a maximum of six people. Dates are flexible but spring and summer dates are recommended.

Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island

A Unique Opportunity to Propose to your Beloved in Style

What better that to surprise your loved one than by proposing in one of the most idyllic and iconic locations the country has to offer? The winning bidder on this auction will win a weekend stay in a National Trust holiday cottage on Holy island (May 11, 12 and 13 or May 18, 19 and 20), an ideal setting for you to ask that all important question of the one you love.

Tempt your partner away with the promise of a romantic weekend on the tranquil setting of Holy Island. Take them on an evening walk to the iconic castle, then let the surprise commence as the door is opened and you are welcomed in to a glass of champagne and an evening tour of the historic castle, just for the two of you.

Then when your partner thinks you have just arranged a private tour for the two of you, the National Trust will show you through to the historic dining room, set out for a romantic dinner for two. You will be served dinner, and then the rest is up to you as you choose your moment to propose – in the dining room after dinner perhaps, or sipping champagne on the battery with some of the finest evening views of the Northumberland coast.

The National Trust is helping you make that special moment more magical by giving you the ideal setting to show the one you love that romance is not dead.

Northumberland Coast

Family Rock Pooling Adventure /Ramble

A great opportunity for a family to come out to Low Newton-by-the-Sea and explore one of the finest stretches of the Northumberland coast with Jane Lancaster, the National Trust’s Community warden.

The trip will include an opportunity to go bird watching at Newton Pool with Jane on hand to offer some expert advice. Jane will then take you on a beach walk through the dunes, followed by an opportunity to go rock pooling. And to top it off Jane will also take you for lunch at the famous Ship Inn in Low Newton-by-the-Sea.

A truly memorable family day out in one of the country’s finest beach locations with a National Trust warden on hand to help ensure your family get the best from the day. The experience for up to five people.

Coastal Walk

Join Kevin Redgrave, the Northumberland Coast’s Coastal Warden, for a circular, coastal walk along one of the country’s most beautiful coastlines.

Walking from Craster to Low Newton and back, the walk includes such stunning features as the medieval Dunstanburgh Castle, the much photographed Embleton Bay and 19th century fishing village of Low Newton and its associated wildlife havens of Newton Bay and Newton Pool.

The route covers about six miles and takes about five hours – not too strenuous.  Lunch will also be included in the experience at The Ship in Low Newton, noted for its own micro brewery in the garage.  There is much to see – birds, flowers and other abundant wildlife – history, ancient to World War Two, exceptional geology, and the justifiably iconic landscape.

The experience is for up to four people

Seaton Delaval Hall, Seaton Sluice

To the Manor Born

Experience life as the host of your very own Georgian dinner at one of the region’s most prestigious historic houses, Seaton Delaval Hall.

Be the host at your own manor. @ Scenic Photos Elevated

The winning bidder will get to host a Georgian evening at the hall for themselves plus up to nine guests. Georgian costumes will be provided. The experience includes a champagne reception in the drawing room, followed by dinner in the dining room (based on an authentic Delaval menu).

Your dinner is then followed by music in the old kitchen. As the hosts you can then bid farewell to your guests, and retire to the Bird Bedroom, for a once-in-a-lifetime overnight stay.

The following morning you will be served breakfast before departing. Dinner will be for up to 10 people with overnight accommodation being provided for one couple, the winning bidder and their guest.


VIP Safari

Enjoy an exclusive VIP safari trip around Wallington’s 8,000 hectare estate with the Countryside Team. This will include some stunning scenery with access to areas not normally open to the public. On a lunchtime picnic at Rothley Castle, enjoy the open views then on to the former home of Sir Charles Trevelyan where you will be welcomed by the house and collections team for an exclusive tour followed by afternoon tea in the stunning central hall, an experience never before offered to the public.

This wonderful day is available on any Tuesday (the day the house is closed to the public) during June or July 2012 to take best advantage of the Northumberland summer. The trip is for four adults or two adults and two children over the age of 12.

Tyne and Wear

Penshaw Monument

Walk the Wire

Access all areas and scale the heights! Hundreds of lucky people have now climbed to the top of Penshaw Monument, but only a tiny handful have made their way around all four sides of the roof, and only then in the name of duty, carrying out safety inspections.

This is your chance to join this exclusive and daring group. The lucky winner will don a harness and be clipped on to a ManSafe System (a metal cable running around the roof) before being guided on a thrilling tour of the parts of this iconic 20m/66ft high landmark most people will never reach.

This includes traversing the apex at either end, several feet above the relatively enclosed walkway, a truly adrenalin inducing once in a lifetime experience. Includes picnic at the top of the monument for the winner and three others over the age of 10.

(The experience available for one person over the age of 18. Please note the experience will take place on a day mid-week – not weekends – on a mutually convenient date with the winning bidder).

Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn

A Lighthouse Romance

What could be more romantic than a lighthouse-lit dinner for two served in the unique lantern room space at the top of a lighthouse? The winning bidder of this auction gets exactly that – the red light on – offering a romantic glow. And to top it off your dinner is followed by a stay in the lighthouse cottage below. (Please note there are 54 steps to climb then a ladder climb of 22 steps to the top of the tower.)

While the National Trust will try its best to accommodate you on a date of your choice, our property operation and event and maintenance requirements and commitments may mean that we have to set an alternative date with you.

The Leas, Whitburn

A Run and A Relax!

Two entries for the famous Great North Run, the world’s largest half marathon, which finishes on The Leas, owned by the National Trust. Plus accommodation for four (plus cot) at Souter Lighthouse holiday cottage for the night before the run, and the night of the run.

Stay in some of the nearest accommodation to the finish of this famous sporting event. When you finish you have the chance to stroll along the beautiful clifftop path to the lighthouse, where you can relax in your bath, with a pamper-hamper in the cottage for your further comfort.

The experience includes two nights accommodation – September 15-16, 2012. The run is September 16. There are run entries for two people, and accommodation for four. You should have the ability to enter a half-marathon (13.2 miles)

Washington Old Hall, Washington

A Washington Wedding

Using the unique and atmospheric Great Hall of historic Washington Old Hall in the heart of pretty Washington Village, Tyne and Wear, you can enjoy your Civil Ceremony or Civil Partnership for up to 60 guests at Washington Old Hall, followed by canapés and drinks. Registrar’s fees are also included. This is a chance to have exclusive use of the ancestral home of George Washington, first President of the USA.

The National Trust will try its best to accommodate you on a date of your choice, but the property operation and event and maintenance requirements and commitments may mean that it has to set an alternative date with the winner.


Ormesby Hall, near Middlesbrough

A House Party Mystery evening

Using the unique and atmospheric entrance Hall of historic Ormesby Hall, a tailor-made elegant champagne and cheese evening reception set in the 1930s, for up to 25 guests chosen by the winning bidder.  Belgian sleuth Herbert Pierrot will be present as guest of honour, and though of course nothing is expected to happen ‘out of the ordinary’ he can step in should any incident occur.

This is a chance to experience the Pennyman’s historic home brought to life in a Downton Abbey manner.

The National Trust will try its best to accommodate you on a date of your choice, but the property operation and event and maintenance requirements and commitments may mean that it has to set an alternative date with the winner.

Simon Lee said: “The auction is raising funds for the Yorkshire and North East region of the National Trust – the UK’s largest conservation charity – an area rich in diverse landscapes from the Northumberland Coast to the Yorkshire Dales, and including some of the country’s most iconic landmarks including Hadrian’s’ Wall, Fountains Abbey and Lindisfarne Castle.

“With more than four million members, the Trust is one of Europe’s leading conservation bodies. As a charity, completely independent from the government, we are always looking for ways to generate income which is spent on the care and maintenance of the land and buildings in our protection. We’re always in need of financial support and are asking people to bid generously to help support a group of places that hold a very special place in many peoples’ hearts.”

Details of all of the experiences up for auction can be found by logging onto

The auction runs from November 22-29.


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