Herding Hill Farm
In fact, despite its most historic of locations, this campsite is far from ancient and, while well-equipped and soundly run, it started out as just 20 grass pitches in 2012 before flourishing to its current size. Friendly owners, Anne and Steve, had always loved camping in Northumberland and exploring the Kielder Forest National Park. So when they stumbled across this 55-acre farm, a stone's throw from Hadrian’s Wall, they couldn’t help but take on the challenge. Word of mouth spread, people kept coming and the family gradually built ever more features and facilities to accommodate their growing line of guests.
The resulting campsite is a well-located, family friendly mix of traditional camping with extra luxury options. At the far end of the campsite is a grassy two acre field without electric hook-ups for those who want a basic pitch and the best views in the house. While, at the bottom of this plot you’ll also find the Tentipi village – four pre-pitched Nordic tipis complete inside with a log-burning stove. Stepping closer to the amenities block, you'll find further luxury options – eight wooden wigwams with comfy futon-style beds, fridge, microwave, heaters and tea making facilities. In a range of different sizes, the wigwams offer a hideaway for small families or couples. Those wanting to indulge like caesar can have their very own Roman bath – a bubbling private hot-tub next to the wigwam! The rest of the site is a combination of hard standings and open grassland with all pitches a short walk from the amenities block, an immaculate facility with under-floor heating, disabled access and yes, we weren’t telling porkies, an eight-person sauna that can be booked out for private use.
When you drag the kids from the fort playground and venture beyond the campsite walls (just ordinary walls I’m afraid) there’s a plethora of attractions close at hand. Voted England’s favourite market town by Country Life Magazine, Hexham is a short drive away. Its streets weaving out from the famous abbey at its centre. The old gaol there (built in 1333) is England’s first purpose-built prison and invites you to learn about the dramatic Border Reiver raids and the tragic consequences for those who were captured. For history, however, nothing really matches a clamber up to Hadrian’s Wall with the magnificent Roman forts of Housesteads, Chesters and Birdoswald all nearby. Housteads is well worth a visit – you can wander the remains of the barrack blocks and the commandant’s house before enjoying the brand new museum which uses film footage, 3D models and a staggering collection of Roman finds to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site and the lives of the soldiers who lived there almost 2,000 years ago.
Whether it’s this rich history that draws you in, or the mountain biking on offer around Europe’s largest man-made lake in Kielder Forest, or simply walking with the alpacas that live in Herding Hill Farm, this campsite is difficult to match for location. It’s a paradise for those who love the outdoors: a national park on the doorstep, miles upon miles of footpaths that take in the best of Hadrian’s wall and water sports in nearby reservoirs. At the end of it all you can slope back to the campsite and have a cold beer in the tiny onsite bar, you’re on holiday after all, it would be rude not to.
A car park sits between the luxury holiday cottage and the reception, which backs onto the bunkhouse. This reception is also the site of a small fully licensed bar selling bottles to takeaway and has a shop selling camping essentials. Beyond this is an onsite petting farm, home to Robin the miniature shetland pony, alpacas, donkeys, rabbits and guinea pigs, while ducks and chickens roam around the pond. A security barrier lets you into the camping area based around one amenities block with hot showers, toilets, sinks, plug sockets and underfloor heating, as well as an 8 person sauna. A disabled/family room is also attached with both a bath and shower. There is a drying room, laundry room and outdoor sinks for washing up. Wigwams come in 3 styles: 6-berth, 5-berth, and a 2 adults + 2 kids combo. There is a 'no-dogs' wigwam for those with allergies. All wigwams are equipped with a fridge, microwave oven, heater, lights, toaster, dustpan/brush, bin and kettle, while 3 are en-suites with a private outdoor hot-tub. These have foam mattresses and you must bring your own sleeping bags/bedding. Tipis can sleep up to 4 people and are fitted with a wooden floor. You need to bring your own beds, bedding and other essentials. A log burning stove is fitted and has a safe ventilating chimney. The bunkhouse sleeps 28 in four rooms with en-suite facilities, a lounge with log burning stove and fully equipped kitchen. A luxury lodge is also available to rent.
Everyone! Tents, campervans, caravans, and glampers. Backpackers, families and small groups, plus all dogs welcome. No large groups.
NearbyHaltwhistle 'the centre of Great Britain' is a mile away, while a little further east is the market town of Hexham, boasting the historic Hexham Abbey (01434 602031) and England's first purpose built prison, The Old Gaol (01434 652349), dating back to 1333. North of the campsite is dominated by the Kielder Forest National Park a huge expanse ideal for walking and cycling. Particularly of note is Kielder Water, a vast man-made lake and one of Britain’s largest nature resorts, it is home to the rare red squirrel, deer and plentiful birdlife. Things to do include fishing, boating and an array of water sports. The foot of the national park is crossed by Hadrian's Wall, now a world heritage site, which is less than a mile from the campsite. This is the central and most complete part of the wall where it is well preserved compared to much of the 80 mile structure. Nearby Housesteads Roman Fort (01434 344363) was the base for hundreds of soldiers and you can now visit the barracks and buildings as well as the new museum. Similarly, The Vindolanda & Roman Army Museum (01434 344277) allows you to experience the world famous Vindolanda Writing Tablets, live archaeology in summertime and a collection of Roman finds from local sites. Active families will enjoy zip-wiring in the trees at Go Ape (0843 770 4231), while Vallum Farm (01434 672 406) and Walby Farm Park (01228 573056) offer more than the onsite petting farm.
Food & Drink
There is a fully licensed bar on site which sells bottles for takeaway only. You can also get takeaway food and homemade pizzas, plus during certain periods, breakfast rolls to takeaway (to be pre-ordered the night before). The village of Haltwhistle is a mile away with a Sainsbury's on the main street and Billy Bell (01434 320253), the local butcher with local fish, game and poultry. The Black Bull (01434 320463) is a decent village pub, though if you walk the other direction from the campsite, The Milecastle Inn (01434 321 372) is a family pub that serves great food and real ales - plus a beer garden if the sun comes out. Haltwhistle also boasts a cluster of nice tea rooms: La Toot (07721 697157), The Fort Tea Room and Restaurant (01434 322037) and Pillarbox Cafe (01434 321780), as well as Beano's Sandwiches (01434 321321) for something on the go.
Late February - late December.
If you're going by car, take the A69 to Haltwhistle. Look out for the brown Herding Hill Campsite tourist signs. As you leave the A69, you will find Shield Hill about 200 yards on your right.
If you are towing a caravan don't follow Sat Nav systems as they may take you up Shield Hill from Haltwhistle which is extremely steep. Coming from the east, on the A69, take the A68 north and then take the B6318 towards Chollerford. You'll see brown tourist signs when you get to the Milecastle Inn directing you towards the campsite. Those travelling from the west should take the Greenhead turn off and head along the B6318.
The AD122 bus runs between Newcastle and Carlisle and stops right at the campsite gates.
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