Weekend Away - Doxford Hall, Northumberland
Jack Davies and Emma Carter spent a Winter weekend taking in the sights and sounds of Northumberland.
When all gifts have been unwrapped, the relatives have left, and the New Year has been celebrated in style we always find we hit a post-festive slump and need a weekend break to look forward to. We recently visited the stunning Northumberland countryside for a relaxed weekend away, and enjoyed two days of walks, rest, and relaxation fuelled by plenty of fabulous food. The County is perfect for that Winter weekend break to relax after a busy Christmas period.
Doxford Hall makes a majestic base for exploring the glorious Northumberland countryside. With its acres of unspoilt beaches and pretty coves to explore, dramatic clifftop castles and thriving seaside towns to amble around, you can see why it was voted holiday destination of the year in 2017 at the BBC Country File Awards.
Close by there’s the Northumberland National Park, the Cheviot Hills and the North Pennines for those who love big skies and wide-open space. The area’s rich with wildlife, and mile after mile of coastal paths make for invigorating walking and cycling adventures. Head inland and you’ll discover beautiful gardens, family-friendly attractions and a wealth of stately homes to explore.
Indeed, Doxford is one of those stately homes – a Georgian masterpiece built in 1818, it’s been lovingly restored over the years, including a wealth of beautiful wood panelling and a grand handmade staircase. Old stone fireplaces, classic leather armchairs, elegant sitting rooms, grandfather clocks – the sense of a grand but homely residence pervades. The Doxford estate is conveniently accessible from the A1, and as Northumberland’s only four AA red star awarded hotel.
Upon arriving at the venue, the first thing we noticed was the sheer beauty of the building and its surroundings which included a Yew tree maze, something we were sure to explore before leaving. Once entering reception, the service from staff was faultless. As we were shown to our room, a member of staff explained to us everything we needed to know. The room itself was incredibly spacious, the bed remarkably comfortable and featured beautifully crafted furniture and a bespoke modern bathroom (complete with Molton Brown toiletries- a great added touch).
Having unpacked, we immersed ourselves fully into the Stately experience at Doxford Hall’s traditional afternoon tea. A quintessentially English affair, served in the Georgian Room, the magnificent Library or the Morning Room in front of a roaring log fire with a fine selection of finger sandwiches (crusts off naturally), freshly baked sweet and savoury scones and homemade cakes and fancies.
To burn off the calories we decided to explore Bamburgh Castle (a short 20 minute car journey away). Standing 150 feet above the sea, the magnificent Castle is an icon of the Northumberland shoreline and has been the film set for many blockbusters. There was over 1,400 years of history to explore in the fine state rooms, art gallery and 12th century keep.
After all that exploring we needed some quiet time and headed to The Aqueous Spa to indulge in a little ‘me-time’. As well as the large heated swimming pool, a jacuzzi, a sauna and a steam room, you can treat yourself to a range of personalised spa experiences. We opted for the Mohom deep pressure massage (not one for the faint hearted) which is designed to encourage blood flow, stretch muscles and ease joints. This is a deep tissue massage which involved extreme pressure being applied deep into the muscle. Although this is less relaxing than other massages it is great for those that play sport or require loosening up. We also had a hot stone massage to follow which we found was a great way to destress after a long working week.
Fully relaxed, and ready for dinner, we changed and headed to The George Runciman restaurant where we were greeted by the Head of House who showed us to our candle lit table. Like the rest of the venue, the dining area had a calm and relaxing atmosphere. The menu was varied, and we settled on the smoked Salmon with fish eggs as an Appetizer followed by The Robert Parker Collection Signature Dish Pan Seared Scallops as a Starter. Both courses left us hungry for more. For our mains we opted for the seared fillet of beef with hand cut potatoes and mushrooms which was cooked medium rare to allow maximum taste from the cut, and the succulent pan-fried chicken. As soon as we finished dinner we sunk into our pillows and had a great night’s sleep.
With 35 handsomely appointed bedrooms, elegant lounges and a fabulous spa, swimming pool and gym, Doxford is the ideal place to unwind after exploring the delights of Northumbria. Add to this the award-winning dining in their George Runciman restaurant, the yew maze and acres of landscaped gardens to explore and everything’s in place for a relaxing and memorable Winter stay for people of all ages.