- Enjoy nearby attractions such as Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle and High Force Waterfall
- Explore County Durham – Land of the Prince Bishops
- Venture further afield to Northumberland, The Yorkshire Dales, York, Newcastle and the Lake District
- Visit England – Discover Teesdale & Barnard Castle
- Enjoy the Dales’ Timeless Treasures
To appreciate the history of this great castle is to understand the true nature of this typically English small market town. Barnard Castle (www.BarnardCastle.co.uk) is one of the great fortresses of Northern England, sited on a cliff above the River Tees. Originally built after the Norman Conquest by the Baliol family, its defences were successively developed during the Middle Ages to create the castle we can see today. After the death of its most famous owner, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III, the castle was gradually neglected in the hands of the Crown, even though it managed to hold out for eleven days against rebels during the Rising of the North in 1569.
The Castle is now in the care of UK English Heritage and you really must do the tour. Enter the castle by the North Gate, spend the ‘princely sum’ of £3 on an audio tour and within an hour or so you’ll see ‘quaint and quiet dales life’ in a completely different light.
The Bowes Museum
The Bowes family first acquired land in Teesdale following the Norman Conquest, eventually accumulating vast estates in County Durham and Yorkshire. Their land in north Durham contained large coal reserves and from the 17th – 19th centuries the family acquired great wealth from mining and transporting coal. The first view of this magnificent building (www.thebowesmuseum.org.uk) comes as something of a shock. It looks like a French chateau, but is in fact a purpose-built museum on a grand scale. It was commissioned by Josephine and John Bowes to house a collection of European art that they bought to show in it. The Bowes amassed the collection in just fifteen years. Sadly neither of them saw the project completed, as they both died before it opened to the public in 1892.
The Museum has public galleries on three floors. To enjoy your visit you are advised to spend at least two hours taking in a selection of the exhibits. Your admission ticket is valid all day. You can break your visit with lunch in the Café Bowes or a stroll around the grounds and formal gardens, or perhaps visit Barnard Castle and return later in the Day. Note that the most famous exhibit in the Museum, the Silver Swan musical automaton, plays each day at 12:30pm and 3:30pm.
Raby Castle (www.rabycastle.com), in Staindrop, County Durham is one of the North of England’s most impressive castles. Built in the 14th century by the Neville family, it has been the home of Lord Barnard’s family since 1626. The rooms display fine furniture, impressive artworks and elaborate architecture. You can see large herds of red and fallow deer in the Deer Park, enjoy five acres of glorious 18th century walled gardens, a splendid carriage collection and a children’s woodland adventure playground. Note; Opening times and events vary, it’s best to check before planning your visit.
A woodland walk in the historic heart of Barnard Castle. The Woods (Flatts Woods & Percy Beck Walking Guide) formed part of Marwood Chase, the hunting park of the Baliol family, who were the Lords of Barnard Castle. In the 13th Century, Hugh Baliol granted the townspeople the right to graze their pigs in the woods.
For a perfect start to your holiday, try an early morning walk through the woods. You can start your walk right from the front door of Riverdale Cottage.
High Force Waterfall
From its rise as a trickle, high on the heather covered fells at the top of the Northern Pennines, to the top of the Whin Sill rock at Forest-in-Teesdale, the River Tees steadily grows and gathers pace. Then, suddenly and spectacularly it drops 70 feet/21 metres – High Force (www.highforcewaterfall.com) is reputed to be the highest unbroken fall of water in England. Postcards and photographs can’t portray the sheer size of this vertical wall of water, the ceaseless roaring sound and the power of this natural phenomenon.
High Force commands respect. Its power is its beauty but must be treated with great care. Children should be supervised at all times and dogs must be kept on short leads.