A Week in Sparty Lea

We drove down on Saturday from Ardnamurchan, to our next cottage in Northumberland. Isaac’s Cottage is in the remote community of Sparty Lea, which is nestled under the shadow of Killhope Law (standing at just over 2,000ft) in the East Allen Valley. Hexham is 15 miles or so away, past the large village of Allendale which serves the area via a Co-op, a couple of pubs, a butchers and a tea room.

Isaac’s Cottage

It’s been a week of rain, rain and more rain but it hasn’t stopped us from getting out and about. The North Pennine Moors are either bleak and foreboding or a spectacular wilderness, depending on your mindset – I favour the latter description but, given the weather we had, I’m not sure Alison could see past the bleakness.

Cow Green Reservoir
Cauldron Snout

After a day out it was comforting to come back to the cottage and to light the fire – looks like Ralf enjoyed watching TV too.

There are some extremely scenic villages and towns in the area (and fortunately plenty of cafes and tearooms too).

Middleton in Teesdale

It’s quite a while since we last visited High Force but it’s just as astonishing as it always was, although access is slightly more controlled by the Raby Estate.

River Tees at High Force
High Force

Our longest trip was to Rothbury and the National Trust property of Cragside. It’s our first visit and we’ll definitely be back. It’s a huge estate with over 40 miles of footpaths, plus a carriage drive allowing car access to lots of interesting spots. We’d certainly recommend a visit.


We finished the week with a lovely meal at The Elk’s Head. We were the only people in at lunchtime (they we’re waiting for a shooting party to arrive) but we were made very welcome.

Here are a few more photos of a wet, but chilled week in Northumberland.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, so grab a pew and I'll make you a brew - Hobnob or Bourbon?

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