Skip to content

Things to do on the estate at Cragside

The Blackburn Boathouse, a small stone building with a thatched roof standing amongst trees with autumn leaves at Cragside, Northumberland
The Blackburn Boathouse at Cragside | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

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

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.

The boathouse

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 sculpture of a face with decorative leaves carved into a fallen tree at Cragside, Northumberland
'Douglas' the tree sculpture at Cragside | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

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.

A close up of a red squirrel climbing a tree on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, Dorset
Red squirrel peering from a tree | © National Trust Images / Chris Lacey

Wildlife spotting

Roe deer

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.

Red squirrels

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.

The Drawing Room at Cragside with its intricately carved fireplace surround, curved ceiling and dining room furniture, including tables, chairs and couches

Discover more at Cragside

Find out when Cragside is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

You might also be interested in

A golden-coloured labrador is looking at the camera. It has a cheery face and its tongue is out. He is stood on the Rock Garden steps at Cragside.

Visiting Cragside with your dog 

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.

An elevated view of the decorative exterior of the house at Cragside

History of Cragside 

Cragside is often considered to be Britain’s original smart home. Discover more about the creation of Cragside and the people who made the remarkable place we know today.

The 19th-century Clock Tower in the Formal Garden at Cragside, Northumberland.

Things to do in the gardens at Cragside 

Experience a grand designer garden created for beauty and function which includes a Formal Garden, Rock Garden and the Pinetum. Find out what you could discover on your next visit.

Walker at Watendlath, Cumbria

Countryside and woodland 

Plan a visit to one of the special countryside places in our care and discover the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Pack your walking boots and get ready to explore woodlands, valleys and rivers.

A hiker wearing an insulated jacket and a backpack watches the sunset over snowy mountain peaks


Explore some of the finest landscapes in our care on coastal paths, accessible trails, woodland walks and everything in between. Find the best places to walk near you.

A stile stands on frosty ground beside the fast-flowing water of the river on the River Walk at Wallington, Northumberland, in winter

Countryside in the North East 

Explore the North East's wide open spaces on foot or by bicycle. There are nature reserves, vast estates and huge swathes of undulating countryside to discover, as well as plenty of wildlife to spot.