Northumberland is very well endowed with fine National Trust and English Heritage sites, including Cragside House, Belsay Hall and several castles, but my favourite property is Wallington.
Situated just twenty miles NW of Newcastle in the first foothills of the Pennines, Wallington has everything to satisfy the discerning senior traveller in pursuit of interesting heritage in scenic countryside.
In addition to a fascinating house, there are extensive gardens, including a large walled garden, and large area of parkland with wooded areas and a well-marked riverside walk.
Don’t rush your visit! You could spend a whole day here. And, unusually, almost all of the Wallington property is open throughout the year, although the house is sometimes closed on weekdays during the winter season.
Although the house dates back to 1475, it was rebuilt in 1688 and then again substantially rebuilt, in a Palladian style, in the 1750s. It passed to the Trevelyan family in 1777.
The most striking feature of the house is the Central Hall which was an open courtyard till roofed over in the 1850s. The walls are decorated with eight pre-Raphaelite paintings tracing the history of Northumberland from the Romans and Hadrian’s Wall through to industrial Tyneside. I find the Grace Darling picture particularly evocative.
The upper floor gives great views back down towards these pictures and the paintings of flowers interspersed between them.
There is much of fascination in the house relating to the Trevelyan family including the free-thinking Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan and his wife Mary. Sir Charles, a Labour MP from 1922-1931, did not believe in private ownership and gifted the entire estate to the National Trust in 1942, the first donation of its kind.
There is relatively little garden by the house itself, other than a large grassed area between the house and the Clock Tower, where the café and shop can be found.
The main gardens, are to the east of the house across the B6342 road and through some woodland, passing the China and Garden Ponds along the way.
The Walled Garden is on two levels and with well-stocked themed borders. The large Edwardian Conservatory on the upper level had a wide range of colourful flowers when I visited in early March and the beds in front were a mass of purple crocuses.
Parkland and River Walk
The 13,000 acres of parkland provide plenty to explore including both the East and West Woods.
For the more nimble senior travellers, I recommend the two mile River Walk which takes you along the banks of the River Wansbeck, with views back up towards the house.
The path is easy to follow with a good surface and fairly gentle gradients. However, take care after heavy rainfall as the walk includes stepping stones across the river!
Your grandchildren are well catered for in the parkland with an adventure playground and a play fort.
If you require somewhere to stay when visiting the area, I can personally recommend the Holiday Inn Gosforth Park, just 17 miles from Wallington, and the Staybridge Suites in the middle of Newcastle, by the Millennium Bridge and the Baltic Exchange. I’ve stayed at both of these in the last couple of weeks and was impressed with their very smart decors and friendly, helpful staff.
Joining the National Trust
If you plan to visit five or more National Trust sites in a year then it is probably better value to purchase annual membership. To receive free binoculars with annual or gift membership paid by direct debit, click here on National Trust.
However if you are over 60, then you could join the National Trust for Scotland and save about 35% on National Trust membership, whilst still being able to access all National Trust sites. Under 60s can save about 15%. Click on the banner below for more details.
POSTED 16th MARCH 2019 by STEVE HANSON. Photographs were taken by BARBARA HANSON.