Visiting Northumberland

If you are thinking of planning a visit to Northumberland you are in for a treat.

Northumberland is a wild and rugged county filled with vast beaches, forests, hills and ancient history. You can explore castles or Roman Forts, walk amongst wild goats in the Cheviot hills, spot seals, arctic terns, puffins and dolphins on the coastline and gaze at the vast star filled skies in the Kielder Dark Sky zone.

Places to Visit

There are so many wonderful places to visit I can’t possible list them all but a few of my favourites include Cragside – a National Trust house and estate and the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity, Alnwick Castle – the setting for many films including most famously Harry Potter, where you can complete your broomstick training, or go on a knights quest as well as seeing spectacular interiors and artwork, Dunstanburgh Castle – desolate ruins near the lovely village of Craster, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne – take care to check the tide times carefully and lastly Barter Books – one of the largest second hand bookshops in Britain, complete with open fires, a fantastic cafe and sofas to sit and read and while away the hours. Oh and the beaches, the hills and the forests. Plus a rather lovely farm studio at Whistlebare near Berwick-upon-Tweed selling yarns, gifts and more!

Places to stay.

As by now I’m sure you’ve realised you may want to stay a while. Northumberland has plenty of differing options depending on your desire for adventure, luxury, quirky or something traditional.

Camping. There are plots for both tent and camper vans at the Barn at Beal with lovely views over the sea to Lindisfarne, and the option of a cooked breakfast in the cafe.

Bed and Breakfasts Hay Farm Bed and Breakfast is a lovely local base from which to explore, with delicious home cooked breakfasts. Chillingham Manor is a very beautiful luxury B&B renowned for it’s food.

Hotels The Collingwood Arms is in the near by town of Cornhill upon Tweed. A little further away in the historic town of Alnwick is The Cookie Jar – this boutique hotel is within sight of the famous Alnwick Castle and offers a luxurious nights sleep.

Places to Eat

All this exploring is sure to be making you hungry, so here are a few places to refuel and get ready for more adventures.

Audela in Berwick serves contemporary British cuisine. The Black Bull in Etal is a pub with restaurant. The Jolly Fisherman in Craster serves local seafood which you enjoy whilst admiring the fabulous views of the coast.

For lighter bites try The Milk Bar in Wooler, it serves milkshakes, delicious baking and more! One for all the family to enjoy. Carnaby’s is just off the A1 north of Alnwick and uses fresh local produce to serve cooked breakfasts, artisan breads, salads, cakes, and more. Lastly for lunch with a view you can’t beat the Barn at Beal for views over towards Lindisfarne.

Visit Northumberland. You won’t ever want to leave.

Whistlebare Retreats

We’d love to welcome you to join us on a Whistlebare Retreat – a relaxing day based around knitting or crochet held on our Northumberland farm.

Rather like an extended knit and natter group a retreat gives you a chance to come along to Whistlebare and knit with us, whilst also learning more about what we do here on the farm and why Yeavering Bell and our flock of Angora goats is so important to us.

We are very proud of our livestock husbandry and the environmental care we take of our land and we know that our customers care about this too.  So we are offering to show you all around Whistlebare and introduce you to our Angora goats, the Wensleydale sheep, and our new small flock of Shetland x Merino sheep as well the dairy goats, chickens and our new draught ponies, Rain and Blue.

Whilst on the farm tour Alice will also explain about the production of the yarns we sell and the dyeing process and anything else you wish to ask about the farm and yarn!

Knitting can be a hungry business and there will be lashings of homemade cake, local produce for lunch and plenty of teas and coffees to keep you content.

There will of course also be lots of yarn! 

Alice is wonderful at helping you choose the colours that will suit you and will be able to advise you on which patterns you might wish to cast on, and with the first skein of yarn included in the day you will be ready to start your project!

We will have a tutor here to help and support you throughout the day, and by the end of the day we hope you will be confident that you can finish at home.

You can see all of our patterns here if you want to look in advance. Several of our patterns are single skein and therefore your complementary skein will be enough to finish your project.   If the pattern  you choose requires more than one skein then the rest may be purchased on the day with a 10% discount.


  • Whistlebare Pattern and skein of Whistlebare Yarn.
  • Tutor on hand to help with pattern.
  • Morning coffee/tea and cake.
  • Home cooked lunch of soup, bread and local cheese.
  • Afternoon coffee/tea with yes, more cake!
  • Meeting the livestock and easy farm walk.
  • 10% discount on any purchase made on the day.

Lunch will be made from local produce, all diets can be catered for but please let us know in advance.

We have had a number of enquiries about getting to Whistlebare and it is true we are in a very rural area.  We are however, close to the main East Coast Line, our local train station is Berwick-Upon-Tweed which is 40 minutes from both Newcastle and Edinburgh stations and we are going to provide a bus service from and to Berwick station. Please let us know if you are interested in travelling by Whistlebare Bus!

Whistlebare retreats are available to book now, and are next running on October 8th 2022, May 13th 2023, July 8th 2023 and September 16th 2023.

We’d love to see you at one and we hope you will leave feeling refreshed, inspired, looked after and having done some lovely knitting.

To book your place please click HERE!

Chronicles of a Creative Life – Introducing Blue and Rain

A little while ago I wrote a blog post about our plans to protect Whistlebare’s soil from compaction and nurture this farmer’s well being by parking our tractor and using draught ponies for field work instead. Having spent a fabulous week at ‘Hitch In Farm’ down in Devon learning the basics of draught horses I have been really keen to get into real horse power.

Opal, Dolly and Daisy at Hitch In Farm

Traditionally in the North East agricultural work was not done by huge Clydesdales or Shire Horses but by smaller, compact but still powerful Dales Ponies. Not one to mess with tradition and anyway preferring smaller more accessible beasts I set out to find some suitable Dales ponies for Whistlebare. However, in modern times Dales Ponies have been prized in the show ring and so been bred for elegance and refinement which aren’t the foremost characteristics required of a work horse. A type of pony that is still bred for brawn and docility is a traditional gypsy cob of the type I so enjoyed working with at Hitch In Farm.

A Young Shire Horse at Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre

Even finding a little cob turned out to be more complicated than I anticipated. This time the problem was Mr Whistlebare who announced that large farm animals with black and white, or brown and white, patches are cows and as such would not be pulling my cart. Well most cobs are either piebald or skewbald (patchy)! Ironically when I mooted the idea of a ‘Blagdon Splash’ cob (still two colours but not so much patchy as smudgy in appearance) Mr Whistlebare pronounced them delightful as they closely resemble his favourite longhorn cattle!

Luckily I was able to find a charming little blagdon splash filly for sale locally. Her name is ‘A Splash of Rain’, she is two years old and now resides at Whistlebare. As she is still a baby Rain had had no further training than wearing a headcollar and being led about. Starting Rain’s education is an exciting adventure for me. Whilst I have bred mares in the past I have never schooled a horse from the beginning and so was/am slightly terrified of doing it wrong. I have read various highly recommended books and watched a great deal of YouTube.

A Splash Of Rain Traditional Gypsy Cob

So far my worries have been groundless. I think that Rain is one of those ponies who was born wanting to please. After six weeks of lessons she will now wear her harness happily, drag a tyre round the field, stop, start and turn on voice commands and even allow the second junior goat slave to ride her down the lane! I decided to stop on a high note and put her in the field to give her time to grow and mature over the winter. Meanwhile both I and Mr Whistlebare have been excitedly scheming about all the jobs Rain will help with.

I was warned at the outset of this little adventure that where there is one pony usually there is two. It turns out to be true. Enter ‘A Splash of Blue’ but her tale is for another day.