Hidden Treasures - A FREE Arts Trail in Stamfordham Village , Northumberland

*This is a paid collaboration with Helix Arts 

Stepping foot inside of Stamfordham Village is like stepping back in time. With its Instagram-worthy rows of pretty cottages (which gave me serious property envy), a village green, a small pop-up shop inside of the village pub and a real community theme, living somewhere like this is a real dream. We spent the afternoon exploring the village last weekend and just spending a few hours here allowed our pace of life to slow down a little (helped by the lack of decent phone signal of course).

Located not far from Ponteland, Belsay and Cheeseburn, the reason for our visit was to explore a new digital trail which has been developed by Helix Arts and the Army Welfare Service. The trail is FREE to download and you can take part at any time - ideal for getting out and about in the summer holidays. There is ample free parking by the village green (NE18 OQG) or you can catch the 74 bus to Stamfordham Village Green from Newcastle. It is recommended that you download the trail onto your smartphone or iPad at home using WiFi before setting out by making sure this page is loaded before your journey begins.

We tried the trail with our 2-year-old nephew (who walked the whole way - the trail is also pushchair friendly if needed) plus Harry (11), Heidi (9) and Jack (7). The trail is completed at your own pace so if you do have little legs with you I'd recommend bringing a picnic to enjoy on the village green halfway through or some change to buy drinks in the village pub (we found out the hard way that they don't accept card payments and there is no cash machine in the village - told you it was like stepping back in time). The trail is also dog-friendly so perfect for the whole family.

To complete the trail, you need to read and follow the instructions via your downloaded trail here. The main point of the trail is to search for these hidden treasure boxes which are hidden around the village and contain gorgeous scenes which have been designed by the local Primary School. Boxes are hidden by the village shop, in the Church graveyard, by the Primary School, at the Village Green lock-up and by the community hall.

There were 5 boxes to find in total and after a shaky start, we soon knew what we were looking for. Some of the clues and descriptions were quite lengthy which was fine for our older children but for little ones, you may need an adult to skim read and skip to the main clue to keep their attention. The way that the trail is designed means that there is no back button so don't skip past any clues until you have read and taken in what is on the screen. We managed not to do this but we noticed another family completing the trail had put a child in charge of their smartphone and they kept skipping past clues and had to keep re-starting the trail from the beginning which left them looking a little frustrated.

I personally appreciated how the downloaded trail provided an immersive experience. We were marching like soldiers and imagining life in a new village at one point and we really ended up with a real feel for what village like is like - both past and present.

The trail isn't super easy and the boxes are hidden. You couldn't just walk around the village and expect to find them like you often can with other trails we've tried. We did have a few hiccups along the trail - first of all, we visited the wrong water pump (it's not the one joined onto the older pub - look for something more in the middle of the village green) and we struggled to open the church gate and took a bit of a detour before realising we were trying to open the gate the wrong way (doh!). This all added to the adventure though and as a family, we managed to find every box on the trail within around 70 minutes including a snack stop.

I really enjoyed the trail, it was a nice way to learn about a traditional Northumberland village whilst getting out and about with the kids and enjoying some exercise and sunshine too. The trail was educational and inspired a few different conversations througout the afternoon (mostly based around where in the village the police would lock up criminals). I will be honest when I say that Harry (11) thought the trail was too childish for him and at parts he did have his Kevin the Teenager face on - he's at that really tricky age now where unless something involves an X Box, it's not particularly cool. Heidi (9) really embraced the trail but Jack (7) was the one who surprised us and loved it the most. He spent the whole afternoon running ahead and trying to be the first one to discover and open the box and loved meeting the little characters too. Our 2 year old nephew was happy enough to toddle around with us and look inside of the boxes at the drawings.

As you open each box, a series of prompts will flash up on your phone screen designed to accompany the scene inside and can be used to start a discussion which we liked. Jack again especially enjoyed this and took great pleasure in listing all the essentials needed for a person to survive at one point and describing the differences between different types of houses (which is very much linked to Key Stage One Curriculum) during another part of the trail. It kept us nice and active too and the trail asked us to race across the village green in an unusual style which resulted in us all walking sideways like crabs. Very random and goodness knows what the residents must have thought but it was all in good fun.

The village of Stamfordham is beautiful and its a lovely place to spend the afternoon. We would definitely recommend the trail to other families, especially those with children aged 3-9 who I think will get the most out of the experience. I would never have visited Stamfordham if it hadn't have been for this trail so I'm thankful that it gave us a reason to explore somewhere new and a kind of hidden part of Northumberland. It almost feels like a secret!

If you're looking for something a little different to do with the kids, are looking for a picnic spot with added interest or perhaps a new family walk to try, why not try the trail for yourself? I've put together a short video below which will give you more of an idea of what to expect: 

You can share photos across Social Media using #hiddentreasures

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Hidden Treasures - A FREE Arts Trail in Stamfordham Village , Northumberland



  1. What a fantastic idea! Such a great way to explore somewhere new - love the little illustrations in the boxes!

    YOU TRIED TO OPEN THE GATE THE WRONG WAY!!! HA !! That really made me laugh, you'd never see us doing something daft like that ;)


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