If you’re ever holidaying in the beautiful county of Northumberland, make sure a visit to Ford & Etal is included in your itinerary.
Situated in the north of the region, Ford & Etal is a large rural agricultural estate encompassing many attractions and activities. Nestled in the valley of the River Till, between the Scottish border and the Cheviot Hills, you’ll find villages like Ford, a tranquil Victorian spot with its pristine gardens, attractive cottages, picturesque post office and historic church, Heatherslaw and Etal.
We spent a couple of nights in the region and enjoyed strolling around the area, admiring the wonderful countryside and such gems as Ford, which is home to the world-famous watercolour murals of the Lady Waterford Gallery. A visit to the gallery, which served as the village school for over 100 years and still exhibits several items dating back to its educational days, is a must and we’d recommend watching the short film about the life of Louisa Waterford, too. When we visited, we were welcomed by a jovial, extremely knowledgeable member of staff which made the visit much more fruitful.
Stop at the local shop-cum-post office-cum-tearoom and enjoy some refreshments and take the opportunity to appreciate one of the many footpaths which snake their way across this lush estate.
We particularly enjoyed visiting Heatherslaw, just down the road from Ford. After wandering around the visitor centre, we popped along to the family-friendly Heatherslaw Cornmill with its fully-restored 19th century machinery. Unfortunately, we’d just missed a bread-making session for kids, much to Hollie and Peter’s disappointment. But we still received a tour of the mill before heading for lunch at the tearoom overlooking the River Till.
If we visit again, we’ll make sure we jump aboard the Heatherslaw Light Railway for the 50-minute journey along the banks of the river from Heatherslaw to 14th century Etal Castle, which was captured by James IV just before being defeated at nearby Battle of Flodden.
Overall, it was a most entertaining visit to the villages scattered across this sparkling piece of countryside and we’d recommend it to everyone.
www.ford-and-etal.co.uk, tel: 01890 820338
www.visitnorthumberland.com, tel: 01670 622152
Reviewed: August 2017