Away Game: A walk on the wild side

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For me, the real magic of Alnwick — the Northumbrian market town best known for its medieval castle featuring high gothic architecture immortalised in the Harry Potter movies — lies nine miles west at Glanton Pyke. This blissfully secluded 22-acre Georgian estate may be lesser-known, but it’s a salve to soothe overloaded and stressedout senses. Arriving late from London (it is equally well-connected to Edinburgh and Newcastle airport), we quickly settle into Stable Cottage — a Grade II-listed, picture-postcard stone and slate hideaway, with its own private garden and the kind of classically comfy English decor, designed by Johnston Parke Interiors, that you can really sink into. The linens are crisp, the wood-burning stove fully stoked and the palette serene, making it a perfectly cocooning hideaway.

Before getting too comfortable, we headed out to catch a glimpse of the staggering views as the sun lowers over Whittingham Vale and Thrunton Woods. Enchanted, what struck me was just how peaceful it is here. The following morning, after a sizeable breakfast, we went back out to immerse ourselves in the bounties of the estate gardens. There was an entertaining half hour exploring the beech hedge maze and kitchen garden with its impressive greenhouses and lily-pad pond, before finding the flower meadows and ancient woodlands. Days here could easily be spent in peaceful contemplation of nature — but this is prime walking country, and we had much ground to cover.

Over the remainder of our time we slipped into an easy rhythm of long walks, hearty meals and pints. On our first day, we set out to explore the region on foot, having organised a ramble with Shepherds Walks. The offerings are very user friendly — the roads quiet and the off-road cycling trails plentiful, making this an ideal base by foot or bike. Having ventured around Northumberland National Park and Cheviot Hills, both come highly recommended. A word to the wise: this is a place where the oft-quoted words of poet Ted Hughes — that ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing’ — have never rung truer. Happily, we were well-prepped and wrapped ourselves in layers of woollens, with hats, Hunter wellies and waxed jackets to protect us from the raw elements of the Northumberland wilds. Days out were rewarded by late-afternoon tours of the region’s charming array of pubs.

One evening we sneaked out to the croquet lawn, cocktails in hand. And on days when the sun decided to shine, we grabbed our chance to pack a picnic and beeline for the beach. Some of Britain’s best — and my best-loved — are nearby, including Alnmouth, Howick, Embleton Bay and Bamburgh. All offer miles of refreshingly underpopulated golden sands, backed by dunes. You can also venture over the causeway to Holy Island, or take a boat to the Farne Islands, home to seals and puffins.

Our final day was spent at Alnmouth Village Golf Club. Established back in 1869, it is nothing short of an institution. This is England’s oldest nine-hole links course, beset with challenges but also stunning vistas (most notably, the seventh tee). Later as we thawed out, ensconced back in the farmhouse with a local G&T in hand, we felt tired but strangely restored.

Just the tonic. Stable Cottage sleeps four and starts at £400 for two nights (