Thursday 24 September 2015

The Rock Garden at Cragside

Rock Garden Cragside Northumberland Northumbria National Trust Rothbury Lord Sir William Armstrong
One of my favourite trips in Northumberland is a visit to Cragside. It has all the impressive glamour of a fine country house in a Downton Abbey style way but this is mixed in with the eccentric but ingenious inventions and collections of its previous owner.
In the 1860s the then Sir William Armstrong decided to return to the village of Rothbury in Northumberland where he had stayed often as a child. The industrial pollution in Newcastle where he had been living had affected his health and he thought the country air would be better for him. At first he had a modest house with just two storeys built but Armstrong had made his money from his work as an engineer and soon extensions were added on. Not only is Cragside a fine house in its right but Armstrong made it famous as the first house in the world to be lit using hydroelectric power.
While the house at Cragside is enough to keep most visitors entertained for a good while it is the estate surrounding it which is not to be missed. Do make a full tour of the house as one of the best views of the Rock Garden is from one of the bedrooms. A view like that would certainly get you out of bed each morning!
The house is built on a natural rocky ledge. The acid soil naturally favours rhododendrons, heathers and conifers. I've never been in spring so I haven't seen the mass of purple flowers provided by the rhododendrons but once summer moves into autumn it is the heather that is the main feature.
In 2009 the Grade II* listing Iron Bridge was restored. Originally it was constructed by Armstrong's Elswick Works in the 1870s but it had started to be unsafe for visitors to cross. With it being made of steel, despite being known as the 'Iron Bridge', it was certainly one of the first in the country to be made with such a metal.
The Iron Bridge crosses the gorge which the Debdon Burn flows underneath. This is a tributary of the River Coquet which eventually goes out into the North Sea at Amble.
Over the years Armstrong extended the estate to the extent it covered 1,729 acres (7.00km2) with seven million trees planted. Today the route around the estate is a six mile drive and there are over 40 miles of signposted footpaths. It was up one of these footpaths through the pine trees that we found another, very different garden. You'll have to wait for next week to see that one.



  1. What a beautiful location - a photographer's dream! And you've done a wonderful job of capturing the beauty!
    Thanks for linking up at

  2. My husband and I watched a documentary years ago on Cragside and have been talking about it ever since. It's one of those places very very high on our list to visit if we make a trip to the North.

  3. what a beautiful and peaceful place. perfect way to spend a day

  4. what an amazing place to visit and you could see so many different things every time you visited

  5. Oooh I've got a thing about bridges, how lovely to see one of the first steel bridges! And the little wooden ones too

  6. Stunning! The bridge is amazing and what a house. I think we are going to book to go to Northumberland for next year so absolutely must visit here. The grounds are dog friendly so that will be a huge hooray!

  7. Ooo a teaser of an end - you minx!
    The steel bridge is certainly impressive, I love the grey against the greens. I ind of want to do a diva demand and see a rock garden from my bedroom window now too!
    See - you are a bad influence on me...
    Thank you for joining in and sharing lovely x

  8. Wow, what a stunning place. The rock garden, the house and that steel-iron bridge - beautiful. Looking forward to next week's post :) #hdygg

  9. What a beautiful place to visit. We love going to Northumberland but I have not been to Cragside before, but have heard of it! Lovely pictures x #HDYGG

  10. Wow - fancy having that bridge in your garden!


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