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Special feature: Lake Cottage, Middleton Hall, Belford, UK

Last weekend we stayed at a lovely self-catering cottage in the north-east of England. Available through luxury holiday home specialists Crabtree & Crabtree, Lake Cottage at Middleton Hall in Northumberland provides the ideal retreat for families looking for a little peace and quiet. We arrived in the darkness of night, after a rather difficult journey through driving rain but were quickly able to feel at home. The fire had been lit in anticipation of our arrival, the cottage was warm and cosy, and we were generously supplied with a bottle of Champagne, a local newspaper and provisions such as milk, orange juice, bread, bacon, eggs, biscuits and chocolates. The property can sleep up to 6 people in three bedrooms: two doubles and one twin with a nautical theme, ideal for children. An open plan living area, dining room and kitchen serves as a sociable space for families to relax in. The kitchen was well equipped with everything you would need, as well as oven, hob, microwave, toaster, kettle and even an electric wine cooler. The next day we expected more of the same weather we’d experienced at the end of our journey the night before, but were pleasantly surprised by a glorious morning as we ambled around the grounds. Owned by Brian and June Morton for three years now, this secluded part of Northumbria is clearly a peaceful retreat whatever the season and has also been the film set for a number of Catherine Cookson novels. The hall, which dates back to 1871, serves as a venue for family gatherings, birthday parties, weddings or corporate events. It is Grade 2 listed and has luxurious accommodation for up to 36 people. Also on site is a private fishing lake as well as another self-catering property, The Boathouse, which sleeps 2 people on the shore of the lake. The grounds are also a haven for wildlife, with otters, kingfishers and red squirrels for those lucky enough to spot them. Returning to Lake Cottage, we found it to be very well suited to families, and particularly to young families. It comes with its own enclosed garden with swings, slide and a Wendy house. Inside, there are plenty of children’s games, DVDs and even a wardrobe full of costumes for little ones to dress up in. Next door is Swinhoe Farm Riding Centre for those who enjoy horse riding. We opted instead for a short trip to nearby Holy Island, a tidal island also known as Lindisfarne, and home to Lindisfarne Castle. On the next day we visited Alnwick Castle – the residence of the Duke of Northumberland – which was thoroughly enjoyable, and complete with broomstick flying lessons. (Alnwick Castle was used as Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter films.) It’s worth getting a combined ticket that gives you access also to the equally impressive Alnwick Gardens. It is hard to believe that this site was derelict just 10 years ago (it opened in October 2001), but today it is home to beautifully landscaped gardens, a poison garden, bamboo labyrinth, multiple water sculptures and the Grand Cascade water display pictured below. So, Lake Cottage is not only a wonderful hideaway, but it is also within easy reach of some superb attractions and places of interest, including the likes of Bamburgh Castle, Chillingham Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle and Howick Gardens. For golfers there are courses at Alnwick, Alnmouth, Bamburgh, Berwick and Seahouses, and for anyone just wanting to enjoy the beaches, there’s Holy Island, Cheswick Sands, Lowmoor Point, Budle Bay, Bamburgh and Beadnell.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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