The North East’s Realale Trail

Real Ale is growing in popularity and there’s a stream of real ale festivals springing up all over the region. Fans of Real Ale are spoilt for choice in the North East of England and we’ve had a look around at what’s on offer to tempt taste buds.

Durham has a long tradition of brewing and The Stables Pub and Micro Brewery near Beamish is a real treat. There’s also The Durham Brewery with its citrusy Inspiration, smooth White Amarillo or the hoppy flavoured White Whooper. This brewery uses endless combinations of malt, yeast and whole hops from around the world to create amazing flavours.

2010’s winner of CAMRA’s Durham Pub of the Year award is the Surtees Arms that is attached to the Yard of Ale Brewery and proves really popular with real ale drinkers.

If you fancy taking a trip up the road, Northumberland is also home to a number of visitor-breweries. There’s the Northumberland Brewery in Bedlington that offers a superb range of seasonal ales along with a range of firm favourites such as Emotion Ale, Another Fine Mess and Pit Pony.

The Wylam Brewery, from its former dairy farm base, produces award winning beers and the Gold Tankard – champion beer of the CAMRA Tyneside and Daren Lancashire Festivals is a must!

The Hexhamshire Brewery and the Dipton Mill Inn are worth stopping off at too. Ale is brewed using a range of locally sourced speciality malts and English Hops.

Matfen’s High House Farm Brewery grows its barley on-site and is a definite winner with real ale lovers and if you visit, you must sample Lindisfarne Mead, an infusion of honey, fermented grape juice and herbs produced by St Aidan’s Winery.

If you fancy something with a twist, a few miles away from Matfen is the Alnwick Rum Company that offers a spicy, chocolaty beverage, a smooth tasting ale with a kick.

In Hartlepool’s Tees Valley, there’s Cameron’s Brewery, formerly known as The Lion Brewery. For over 150 years this brewery has been using water from its own well and locally sourced ingredients to produce delicious craft ales. There’s a dedicated visitor centre including a licensed bar, which tells the story of a social history, endeavour and innovation.

The oldest microbrewery in the North East is The Big Lamp, situated on the River Tyne in the village of Newburn. Close by is The Keelman’s Lodge serving Big Lamp Bitter – well worth a try.

The North East of England boasts some of the finest real ales and the following are also definitely worth a try: Hadrian and Border Brewery, Mordue Brewery, Maxim Brewery and the Darwin Brewery.

For help on planning an ale tour, just visit here for further information.

Castle and Ruins to explore in the North East

Thanks to our heritage and history, with many battles on the Scottish border, there are more castles in the North East of England than any other English region. There are castles that are lived in family homes and medieval ruins across the region and they stretch from countryside to the coast.

We’ve had a look around at some of the castles and ruins to explore from Lumley Castle just on our hotel’s doorstep right up to Etal Castle on the borders with Scotland. It’s easy to plot out a few castles to visit in a day trip, or more if you’re planning a short stay.

A firm favourite has to be the coastal look Lindisfarne Castleon Holy Island with the adventurous causeway that allows access only twice a day when the tide is out. Close by set against the sea are Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh Castles that make great stop offs for picnics.

One of the most impressive and is Warworth Castle; most famous for its appearance in Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Then there is the marvelous Alnwick Castsle, enjoying a celebrity status as it was filmed as Hogwarts in Harry Potter. The Poison Garden makes for a fun adventure for children too!

Our cities also enjoy some landmark Castles. Durham Castle is a World Heritage Site along with its neighbour Durham Cathedral. The Castle Keep in Newcastle was built by Henry II around 1168 and the Keep replaced the original ‘New Castle’ that the city was named after. It was in fact founded in 1080 by the son of William the Conqueror which in turn was built on the site of the Roman fort Pons Aelius.

There’s so many more to see including Prudhoe Castle overlooking the River Tyne, Etal and Aydon Castles, Housesteads Roman Fort near Hadrian’s Wall, Chillingham Castle with formal gardens and stunning views, Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens and the 13th century Tynemouth Priory and Castle. There is even the remains of a small temple dedicated to the native god Antenociticus at Benwell Roman Temple and Vallum Crossing (Hadrian’s Wall).

Do you love Castles?

Durham’s castles and historic houses are filled with dazzling art and furniture collections along with legends and the odd ghost or two! There are castles and grand houses with stunning formal gardens that make a great day out for the family.

Take a look around the medieval kitchens at Raby Castle or escape to the sanctuary of Crook Hall and Gardens or check out Durham University’s Botanic Garden. There’s too many to mention, so we’ve selected a few of our favourites…

Barnard Castle – This is a ruined castle overlooking the River Tees with a fine great hall and a dominating round-towered keep.

Binchester Roman Fort – See the remains of part of the Roman fort Vinovia including an excellent military bathhouse.

Eggleston Hall Gardens – Garden lovers will adore Eggleston Hall Gardens that are set in 4.5 acres of winding paths, borders, a stream, walls and 16th century churchyard. There’s a wide range of plants for sale, including trees, shrubs, hardy perennials and herbs.

Durham Botanic Garden – Is set in countryside and mature woodland. Plant collections range from North America, Himalayas and China, glasshouse rainforest and desert plants. There are also six Colin Wilbourne sculptures in landscaped garden to view.

Auckland Castle Deer House – Is a charming Gothic Revival ‘eye catcher’ built in 1760 in the park of the Bishops of Durham. It provided deer with shelter and food, and has rooms for picnics and enjoying the view.

Whitworth Hall Country Park – This is a lovely historic parkland with resident deer, ornamental lake and Victorian walled garden. It is also home to Britain’s most northerly vineyard.

Kielder water & Forest

Kielder Water and Forest Park is home to the biggest man-made lake in northern Europe and the biggest working forest in England. It covers 250 square miles and if you haven’t been before, it’s best to pop into one of the three main visitor centres; Tower Knowe, Leaplish and Kielder Castle to make the most of your visit.

This is an amazing place to enjoy the outdoor life whether you want gentle adventure in the great outdoors or full on adrenalin thrills and if you want to head out and explore further afield, you are within easy reach of Northumberland, Cumbria and the Scottish Borders.

Whether with friends or family, Kielder is suitable for all. Test your mountain biking skills, walk or bike ride along the Lakeside Way, stop off at the salmon centre or take the children to the play areas and maze. There are plenty of other events at the Kielder including the Kielder Observatory, survival-training courses run year round, there’s zip wire, King Swing and climbing walls, in fact, it’s hard to find something that doesn’t grab you. Have a look at

visit here for lots more information.

World Heritage Site HADRIAN’s Wall has to be worth visit

Whether you fancy a day out or need to entertain the kids, Hadrian’s Wall has to be worth a visit. Start at Segedunum, which is the most excavated fort along the wall and has a great museum including a 35m high viewing tower that allows you to take in the fantastic views. Alongside the museum, there’s the fort and Roman baths to explore too.

The wall commenced building in AD122 when the Emperor Hadrian ordered a mighty frontier system to be built across Britain to defend the Roman Empire from the barbarians to the North.

The result was Hadrian’s Wall, a 73-mile stonewall which runs from the River Tyne in the East right across to the Solway Firth in the West. Segedunum, which means strong fort, was once home to 600 Roman soldiers.

If you’re up for it, you can walk along the wall (or part of it) for as long or as little as you like but it is a chance to see and learn about history and people of all ages will enjoy the museum.

For more information visit here.

Major Cricket Event to be played in Durham

The world will be watching the North East this Summer when the cricket worlds’ most famous game is played at the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground in August as the North East hosts its first ever Ashes test match.

The England v Australia match is part of a package of games, which will see Riverside host the Twenty20 Cup Finals Day in 2015 and an England Test Match in 2016, a real treat for cricket fans.

There’s no better time than to make the most of an English summer and hear the sound of the echoing willow as cricket balls race at a speed of 125 miles per hour and the picturesque cricket ground has all the elements to make this a really great day out.

For more information on the cricket visit here.