Things to do on the estate at Cragside
Cragside is a treasure trove of hidden gems and secrets waiting to be discovered. While exploring the 1,000-acre estate, you'll find carved critters, ancient rock formations, the driest boathouse in Britain and strange sculptures. Meanwhile, wildlife fans can look out for the variety of creatures that call Cragside home, from frogs and toads to deer and red squirrels.
Ancient caves and rock formations are dotted around the inner pathways of the estate. One of the most fascinating is the tunnel of rock that you can walk through as part of the Brown Walk from Dunkirk car park.
Following the waymarkers, you pass through a narrow walkway encased by boulders of rock above and below, before continuing your walk through the rugged landscape.
Another favourite spot not to be missed at Cragside is the boathouse at Blackburn Lake. It was originally built to house Lord Armstrong's fishing boat, but the lake has since been drained.
So the structure now sits oddly out of place at the edge of a great grassy bowl in the landscape. The area is rich in biodiversity which attracts a wide variety of wildlife.
The Timber Flume
Further along the Carriage Drive is the Timber Flume. A short walk from Moorside car park reveals this innovative intervention, which demonstrates Armstrong’s vision to harness the power of water.
A quarter of a mile long, this man-made timber chute was designed and created to channel the flow of water from Blackburn Lake into the purpose-built Nelly’s Moss Lakes.
This duo of lakes stored the enormous volumes of water needed to generate hydropower and light the house.
A green giant
A green giant lurks among the shrubs between the Iron Bridge and the Pinetum. This leafy, friendly face is known affectionately by the Cragside team as ‘Douglas’.
He was carved from the stump of an old Douglas fir tree by artist Tommy Crags. He sits watching the trickling burn as the water meanders through the Debdon Valley.
The timid roe deer can often be seen meandering through the rock garden into the woodland. If you're exploring Cragside and see a shadow among the trees, stay quiet and still, and you might spot one nibbling on saplings and small branches.
They wear a lighter coat in summer and their coats are much thicker and darker in winter. They like eating ivy, gaultheria and holly and can often be spotted eating grass on the banks near the main car park.
Frogs and toads
There are three large areas of water at Cragside: Nelly’s Moss Lakes and Tumbleton Lake, as well as small streams and burns that run through the estate.
These create an excellent habitat for frogs and toads. They come out of hibernation in spring, heading for water to breed. In autumn, they jump and march across paths as they find muddy areas to burrow for winter.
Related to the crow family, blue jays are light brown birds with a streak of blue down their wings. They're often heard first with their screaming call and can then be seen hopping between the branches gathering acorns, their favourite food.
If you hear a rustle among the fallen leaves on a walk through the woodland, make sure you scan your eyes across the ground. You may spot one of Cragside’s resident red squirrels.
Be quick, as they're shy and quick on their feet. While they hunt for food on the ground, they like to hang out in the canopy of the trees. Keep a look out for them in the Pinetum on your next visit.
Cragside is a two pawprint rated place. With over 40 miles of footpaths, Cragside is great place to stretch your legs with your dog. Read our top tips to help make the most of your visit.
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