Nestling in fabulous countryside between the Scottish Border, the dramatic Northumbrian coastline and the Cheviot Hills, lies Ford & Etal Estates. Essentially a large rural agricultural estate, in the ownership of the Joicey family for over 100 years, it centres round the villages of Ford & Etal and offers a host of different activities and attractions, and some excellent accommodation.
Begin at Heatherslaw Visitor Centre where you can pick up maps and leaflets to help you find your way around the area. Explore Heatherslaw Cornmill, a restored 19th century, fully-operational watermill still making stone-ground flour from locally grown wheat.
Use a ‘family backpack’ to make the journey round the Mill fun for all ages; view the milling process from beginning to end; learn how life was for Victorian Millers. You can even buy some freshly ground flour from the gift shop, or sample it in a delicious home-baked scone from the tearoom.
Continue the nostalgia trip with a ride on Heatherslaw Steam Railway, meandering along the banks of the River Till from Heatherslaw to Etal, a round trip of approximately 50 minutes.
The picture-postcard village of Etal, with white painted houses and the only thatched pub in Northumberland still looks much as it did when first built in 1748. Enjoy a picnic by the river or relax with a clotted-cream tea at Lavender Tearooms (also the Post Office, village shop and plant centre!)
Etal Castle, built in the mid-1300s, tells the bloody history of border warfare. The castle was badly damaged at the time of the battle of Flodden: just a short drive from Etal you can visit the battlefield and follow the trail where, in 1513, a King and 14,000 men died within the space of few hours.
Just 2 miles from Etal is the village of Ford. Mostly Victorian in character, with neat houses and gardens, it is home the Lady Waterford Gallery, a ‘must-see’ venue with its unique watercolour murals and artworks. The village also boasts a tearoom, shop/Post Office, antiquarian bookseller, craft shop, architectural antiques and the most photographed building on the whole Estate - Horseshoe Forge.
The estate is perfect for those who love the great outdoors, offering horse-riding, canoeing, fishing, walking and cycling – you can even hire bikes. Footpaths and bridleways criss-cross the estate and for natural history enthusiasts Ford Moss Nature Reserve, a SSSI, is a fascinating place to visit.
Ford & Etal is an ideal destination whatever the weather, your age or your interest. Just a 20 minute drive from Berwick-upon-Tweed, the estate offers free parking and is open all year round (although main attractions are seasonal). It is a place to explore and discover and will show you something different every time you visit.
Travelling from Berwick to Ford and Etal is easy by bus, as long as you plan in advance. The service is run by Border Buses Service number 267, and operates Mon-Sat all year round (excluding bank holidays.)
You can also use this service to reach Duddo Standing Stones. The stones are at least 4,500 years old, Northumberland's version of 'Stongehenge'! They are located two miles north of Etal, near to Duddo. To get to the stones you would leave Berwick on the Etal Road crossing the A1 onto the B6354, turn right at Duddo and follow the road until you see a sign beside a field gate on the right-hand side of the road - there is ample room to park here. Access is via a 1 km field path.