I had been wanting to visit Cragside House for some time. As the home of the inventor Armstrong it is claimed to be the place where modern living began. It was the first house to be lit by hydro-electricity.
I decided to make a weekend of it and booked an overnight stay at a nearby Caravan Club site, River Breamish. And with that, it was off early and after a quick pit stop for diesel, I was on the A68 south. The road was pretty much straight there once onto the A697 thought the last few miles were over some very steep (and 3rd gear) hill.
The sun was shining as I pulled up though it was still chilly. I got the hiking boots on and headed for the water wheel and power house. The Powerhouse is a truly impressive piece of Victorian engineering and was obviously built to last as much of it looked used but not old. The powerhouse also had some interesting interactive displays on how it all worked. So there was some entertainment to be had pumping water.
The water wheel wasn’t working so from there it was on through the grounds to the Iron Bridge, rock garden and a wonderful view of the house.
The house was open at this point so it was into the interior and a look at how life was lived in the most modern house of its time. One point that grabbed me right off was that this was the most homely stately home I’ve ever been in. Most of them seem very austere and not somewhere you could imagine people living. This on the other hand looked like the people had vacated it and left as is. The reception room and gallery were really the only places with that for-show look. A special mention must be made of the fireplace in the reception room. This was carved into the rock that the house sits on/beside.
The house contains many pieces of fantastic engineering. Besides the electricity, with so much water pressure available, other parts of the house like the lift and kitchen accessories were run hydraulically.
The day was still bright as I left the house so I set off on a lovely 6 mile walk round the estate. There was hail and rain for about five minutes but it was a great way to round off the visit.
Back in the van it was 30mins up the road to River Breamish and my home for the night. The site was pretty full and I ended up on a grass pitch which I’m less fond of but I settled down and got some music going.
The night was cold but I had the heater set to come on in the morning and as the day dawned bright and early I was off home after a lovely trip away.