Winter Wonders across Teesdale & Co Durham
15 November 2023
More and more guests are discovering the attraction and value of an Autumn or Winter break here at Headlam. Some years ago, the period November through to March might well have been called the “off-season”. Yet, now, hundreds of guests each month are finding that, not only is Headlam a cosy and relaxing base for a cold-weather break, but Teesdale and the wider County Durham have so much to offer in the Autumn and Winter too.
We have to start with the lovely market town of Barnard Castle, recently made famous for its connection to Dominic Cummings and his ill-fated Covid trip! A town loved by many for its vibrant antiques, arts and crafts scene, Barnard Castle also boasts the stunning Bowes Museum. Located just on the outskirts of Barnard Castle, this huge French chateau was created by John and Josephine Bowes in 1892 and boasts a world class collection of art, sculpture and the majestic Silver Swan automaton, which celebrated its 250th anniversary this year.
Not far from Barnard Castle is Raby Castle, family seat of Lord Barnard, and one of the finest medieval castles in England. Boasting beautiful grounds, and recently upgraded and extended food and retail areas, Raby and its popular deer park shouldn’t be missed during your visit to the area.
Another wonderful place to visit is the National Railway Museum’s northern outpost – Locomotion – in Shildon near Bishop Auckland. Being part of the Science Museum Group, and with free entrance to visitors, Locomotion, with its 200,000 visitors a year, is definitely not just for kids! County Durham is known as the cradle of the railways, and offers visitors the chance to see highlights of the national collection of railway vehicles here in Shildon, the world’s first railway town.
Of course, Bishop Auckland itself is enjoying a renaissance thanks to the restoration of Auckland Castle and the opening of the fantastic Spanish Art Gallery. The latest attraction to open in the town is the Faith Museum, which opened its doors for the first time in October, and is located in the 14th century wing of Auckland Castle. The museum uses dynamic displays and temporary exhibitions to reveal stories of faith in Britain spanning 6,000 years!
The Durham Dales are famous for their Dark Skies and there are probably no darker areas at night than High Force and Low Force, the twin waterfalls high up on the river Tees. By day, however, and especially when the river is running high through the Autumn and Winter, High Force (England’s tallest waterfall) is a delight, and many walks – both easy and more challenging - can be enjoyed from the car park there.
Finally, if you’re thinking of visiting Headlam Hall towards Christmas, maybe on one of the hotel’s popular Winter Escapes, then there are a multitude of events and shows you might well be interested in. AGLOW at Auckland Castle, for example, is a dazzling Christmas lights trail with some of the largest lights installations in the country, and takes place from 23rd November until New Year’s Eve, 31st December. The Bowes Museum Christmas Market takes place on the weekend of 15th, 16th and 17th December, when dozens of food and drink producers, together with artists, makers and designers from across the North of England will sell their unique and handcrafted wares in the galleries and grounds of the museum. And, last but certainly not least, with the Flying Scotsman due to visit Locomotion from 16th December until 7th January, guests can enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the most famous steam train ever – and all whilst enjoying a relaxing break in your favourite room or suite here at Headlam Hall.