Things to do in and around Barnard Castle. Its about more than just eye tests.....

30 Mar 2021

Here’s a few ideas for things to do in Teesdale during a stay at Hillcrest Park.


A quick google search of Teesdale and it doesn’t take long to realise that its pretty beautiful around here - boasting dramatic landscapes, heather horizons and hay meadows.
Steeped in nature, wildlife and beauty, it is no surprise that a large section of Upper Teesdale falls into the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with part of Upper Teesdale also being designated a National Nature Reserve, known as Moor House. It is home to juniper woods and limestone grasslands. For the botanists amongst us, there is an impressive display of some of England’s rarest plant species and the only habitat in Britain you will find Spring Gentian!

While we are over that way- the North Pennines has some of the darkest skies in England and is an absolute delight for stargazers. 

You will not fall short of walking and cycling routes and of course, there are plenty of pit stops to refuel, or finish the day with a hearty meal. You could even take on one of the ‘on the taste trails’ that take you along the old railway lines and bring you to stops like The Crown at Mickleton where you can enjoy a coffee, cake or something more substantial. Another must during your stay is a trip to The Bowlees Visitor Centre and onward to the South bank of the River Tees where the river drops to form the incredible High Force Waterfall, one of Englands highest and biggest!

There is ample cycling to be enjoyed, including circular routes for those more experienced cyclists. Hamsterley Forest is a great day out and has a number of cycle routes ranging in complexities and great for those of you who love mountain biking. If water sports are your thing, fishing, kayaking, sailing and canoeing can all be enjoyed around Teesdale. Permits may be required so be sure to check. Selset, Grassholme, Balderhead are just some of the reservoirs that you can visit within an hours drive

If the weather’s terrible (which it might be….) try one of the many indoor activities in Newton Aycliffe, just a short drive away. Indoor axe-throwing and archery are available at Valhalla North, and an indoor zipline and climbing wall almost next door at Rof 59.  Plenty to keep you amused on those wet days.


You will be spoilt for gourmet choices during a stay with us. Enjoy an afternoon tea at Clarendon's in nearby Barnard Castle, a pub meal at up the road at the Brownlow Arms, or fine dining at The Fox Hall Inn or Headlam Hall's restaurant - it doesn’t get more local than when they use produce from their very own kitchen garden! For those of you who like to seek out Michelin stars - The Raby Hunt in Staindrop is the North East’s only two Michelin starred restaurant.

Fancy eating in? Coghlan's at Barningham is perfect for picking up breads, sweet treats and deli items. They even have a delivery service that brings afternoon tea to your door. Spring Lodge Kitchen also provides home prepared ready meals – just ask us all about it. It’s perfect if you own a lodge at Hillcrest! And for our cheese lovers, Teesdale even has its own award winning cheese, traditionally made by the Teesdale Cheesemakers at Copley, where they now have their own Cheesedale Cafe. There are plenty of dog friendly places to eat too and as our Holiday Park is dog friendly there is no need for them to miss out on the holiday!


We are even lucky enough to have two fabulous spas within a short drive.  Try either The Garage at the Morritt Arms, Greta Bridge, or the pool and water treatments at Headlam Hall.


There are plenty of opportunities to shop during your stay- anything from food to antiques. The nearby town of Barnard Castle has made plenty of news recently, apart from a place to get your eyes tested or to have COVID vaccines filled, it's a beautiful market town.  It was voted by the The Times one of the best places to live in the North in 2021 and featured in The Guardian's Top 10 Best Small Towns in 2016, as well as inspiring other admiring articles.  It has a mixture of well-known names and lovely independent shops, where you can treat yourself, or even pick up a present or two. It’s also great for stocking up on supplies, so you don’t need to bring the shopping with you! If you love to browse and sample local produce - the market stands proud on the cobbles every Wednesday, with the famers market taking place on the first Saturday of every month and you won’t be disappointed!


There is a fantastic amount of History and Heritage for days out. Raby Castle can be seen from Hillcrest and the breathtaking castle and grounds spanning 200 acres are a must see. The Medieval Castle itself has been wonderfully preserved and tours exploring the castle can be booked. As well as lovely walks around the walled garden and grounds, there is a gift shop and cafe on site.

On the topic of castles, Barnard Castle sits above the river tees, where you can take in the views of the gorge - The castle is also open for visitors. It’s a National Heritage site so you need to book tickets. Enjoy art? Ensure the Bowes Museum is on your list - a French Castle that is stunning inside and out, with three floors of fantastic collections and exhibitions to see - don’t forget to catch the renowned silver swan put on its daily display. 

The range of opportunities for trips out while staying at Hillcrest, spans far beyond the confines of these pages, but we hope that you find a little inspiration from this and, wherever you choose to visit, you have wonderful trip!