50+ Family Walks & Trails to try across North East England

My posts featuring family walks and trails are some of my most popular and they are the posts that are shared the most often across the year.

50+ Family Walks & Trails to try across North East England


I thought it would be handy to round them all up in one post. If you are ever looking for this post, just look for the walks and trails category in the drop-down category list at the top of this blog.



Let me know if there are any other walks or trails we should try and add to the list.



50+ Family Walks & Trails to try across North East England  - Hamsterley Forest
Hamsterley Forest





50+ Family Walks & Trails to try across North East England  - Rothbury Riverside Walk
Rothbury Riverside Walk 




50+ Family Walks & Trails to try across North East England  - Plessey Woods
Plessey Woods



50+ Family Walks & Trails to try across North East England  - Ladyburn Lake
Ladyburn Lake




50+ Family Walks & Trails to try across North East England  - Fontburn Reservoir
Fontburn Reservoir 




50+ Family Walks & Trails to try across North East England - Rising Sun Country Park
Rising Sun Country Park




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50+ Family Walks & Trails to try across North East England



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A Monthly Bucket List for North East Families

This post will share some of the best events for families taking place across North East England this year. Time to grab your diary and get planning! If there is a must-visit annual event I have missed from the list, please let me know.

A Monthly Bucket List for North East Families



Click on the blue links to learn more about each event and always double-check details with event organiser before setting off as events can change.
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Bird-friendly Reindeer Food Recipe

These recipes have been adapted from the RSPB website. They recommend NOT using glitter as it is damaging to wildlife.

Bird-friendly Reindeer Food Recipe



These snacks can be made at home using store-cupboard ingredients, are a brilliant Christmas activity to get the kids involved with and can be safely enjoyed by all of the wildlife in your garden - not just reindeer.
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Gutterball Royal Quays Review

Ad -  We were invited along to press night. Prices correct December 2019. 

As a former North Tyneside resident, Star Bowl at Royal Quays used to be a regular haunt of ours. We LOVED it when it first opened but have to say, it did go downhill over the years and right before it closed I am sure they never turned the heating on to save money as it was always freezing and put us off going!

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The Best Santa Experiences in North East England


Over the past 13 years, we have visited many, many Santas. In our house, we believe that you only meet the real Father Christmas once and you never know when that will be. All of the others are just helpers.

The Best Santa Experiences in North East England


While I do believe that we shouldn't put too much pressure on ourselves to book the best Santa or feel like we have to, it is still a question that comes up time and time again so I thought I would share my thoughts on who I think is the best.
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Christmas & Santa at Cragside Review

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Christmas & Santa at Cragside Review

We visited Cragside over my birthday weekend in December and had such a lovely day. Cragside is open daily throughout December and I honestly think a visit is going to be an annual tradition for us now.

It is one of those days out where there is something for everyone and it isn't all just about the kids. There are beautiful decorations to admire, choirs to listen to, roaring fires, beautiful winter walks to enjoy, delicious food, gifts to buy and if you are lucky, a visit to see the main man himself too. 
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The Mill House Birtley Menu & Review

Ad - We were invited along to their pre-opening launch 

The Mill House in Birtley has re-opened! Their new owners are the team behind The Woodsman's Arms which features as one of our best Sunday Lunches in the North East so we were very much looking forward to taking a peek inside.

The Mill House Birtley Menu & Review
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A Viking Christmas Review & Top Tips

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A Viking Christmas in Northumberland

A Viking Christmas is a brand new festive show for Northumberland showing at Queen's Hall Arts, Hexham from 13 December - 28 December 2019. Over 2500 tickets have been sold already and tickets are available from just £10.

Use code ‘NEFF10’ to access £10 tickets to any performance - click here to buy tickets
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How to Plan a Slower December



October - December is my busiest work period. It also happens to be the busiest time of year for parents and with three kids, my diary is packed out with events I need to keep track of - No Uniform Days, Movie Nights, Christmas performances, Church services, Christmas Parties, Panto Trips, Christmas Lunches, Shoebox Appeals, Early Finishes, Late Finishes, Book Fairs.......My head is spinning!

How to Plan a Slower December


Steve works 9am-7pm and as I work from home, I am naturally the default parent too so the meal planning, food shopping, pet care, cleaning, gift planning, budgeting, buying & wrapping tends to lie with me too. It is rather stressful!
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20 Christmas Eve Events for Kids in North East England


20 Christmas Eve Events for Kids in North East England

I love hearing about Christmas Eve traditions. We love to stay at home, eat loads of food and drink plenty of fizz whilst watching Christmas TV but I know lots of you like to plan a special outing so I thought I would put together a little guide to a few Christmas Eve events taking place this year. 
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10 Reasons to Visit Liverpool in December

Disclosure - I have recently worked with Visit Liverpool but this post has not been commissioned/paid for.


Hot on the heels of my Comprehensive Guide to visiting Liverpool's Christmas Markets (which you should read if you are looking for an in-depth guide to visiting Liverpool over Christmas), I decided to put together a shorter guide for those looking for a more concise overview of what to do in this wonderful city over the festive period.

If you like this post, also check out 10 Reasons to Visit York in December and 10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December. 
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Christmas Days Out for Teens in North East England




A few people have asked for ideas for Christmas days out ideas for teens so I thought I would put a little post together. Don't forget to check out my guide to what's on for kids and guide to Christmas markets too (both will be updated soon).

This post has just been updated for September, I expect I will add more events and ideas in the coming weeks and months so do check back. 

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Kielder Winter Wonderland Review & Tips


This is an advertisement for November 2019. Any shares / edits after this date have not been asked or paid for. 


Kielder Winter Wonderland Review & Tips

Kielder Winter Wonderland features in our Guide to What's On in North East England for Kids this Christmas and I am so pleased that we were finally able to visit this weekend.

This post will feature all you need to know about Kielder Winter Wonderland. It is a pretty long post & there is lots to take in but I hope I have answered your questions and provided an idea of what to expect.

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Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review



Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review

Disclosure - we worked with Whitehouse Farm in November 2019 which is when the photos in this post were taken and our visit took place. We have not been paid / asked to share this updated post for 2020 or 2021. 

PLEASE BE AWARE, THE PHOTOS IN THIS POST ARE FROM 2019 AND THE EXPERIENCE WILL BE DIFFERENT IN 2021 DUE TO CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS. 

🎅 Christmas at Whitehouse Farm ticket details 🎅 

PLEASE READ ALL INFO BELOW. 

These photos and review are from 2019. Details for 2021 may be different so please keep this in mind. Hopefully this post will give you a little idea of what to expect though. 

🎅 Full details of Christmas 2021's event will be available on the Whitehouse Farm Facebook page & website this Friday 

🎅 Tickets for Christmas 2021 will then go on sale this Saturday (31st July) at 9am for seasonal pass holders and 10am for everyone else. Available via Whitehouse Farm. 

🎅 Whitehouse Farm at Christmas is magical. There is lots to see and do, it's mostly indoors, they really go to town with the decorations and we have made some special memories here over the festive period in previous years. It can be expensive but it has felt like good value in the past. Especially as it is somewhere you can spend a full day.


Our 2019 Review



Winter Wonderland Barn

The Winter Wonderland Barn is beautiful! This walkthrough experience can be enjoyed at any time at your leisure - you can even walk through more than once.

There are lots of beautiful photo opportunities with twinkling lights and festive backdrops.

We loved the first few areas which were dedicated to elves behaving badly - look out for some pretty mischievous elves on the shelves.

The walk though experience is brilliant for all ages - little ones love the lights and older kids enjoy finding the elves and seeing what they are up to. I couldn't even resist a selfie myself.

Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - winter wonderland




Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - elf on the shelf







Visit Mrs Claus in her Bakery


Towards the end of the walkthrough Winter Wonderland, you will find Mrs Claus and her bakery. Here you can meet a singing reindeer, write and post a letter to Santa (don't forget to pick up a reply from the gift shop as you leave) and create a Christmas Wish Tag to take to the wishing tree (more on that later). All of these activities are included with admission.

For an additional £2 per biscuit, you can decorate a Christmas cookie. There is no pressure to do this but as H & J were feeling peckish so we decided to give it a try.

Everyone is provided with their own sweet cup and sprinkles and you can help yourself to icing on the table. H & J enjoyed this and I would recommend if you need a sit down and a break from the festivities. You can eat your cookie there, take it away in a bag or leave the icing to set and collect it later in the day. 

Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - Mrs Claus



Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - decorating christmas cookies


Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - singing reindeer



Join Elf School

We LOVE the resident magician at Whitehouse Farm. He is hilarious and always has the kids laughing. Elf School takes place at intervals across the day and is a drop-in activity.

There will be lots of laughs, magic tricks, Christmas magic, a sing-song and everyone who takes part will be provided with an Elf certificate.

Elf School lasts about 30 minutes and is best suited to children aged 3-10 I think (although all ages are obviously welcome).

We ended our day at Whitehouse Farm with Elf School and it was a brilliant way to end on a high. Jack was picked to see if his name was on the naughty or nice list and was delighted to learn it is all good (so far!).



Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - elf school





Write & Post Letters to Santa

In the bakery, children and write and post a letter to Santa and they will receive a reply in the gift shop. There is a physical postbox and being able to physically post a letter is always a nice touch I think. Heidi asked for a skateboard and Jack dinosaur toys. Santa is going to try his best!







Visit the Winter Stables


99% of the animals are kept inside at Whitehouse Farm during the winter months and you can visit and feed them as normal. We loved feeding the goats and were pleased to see new breeds of pig in the barn (the fluffy kind). We met sheep, alpacas, cows, rabbits, guinea pigs, ponies, reptiles, mice, rats, snakes, spiders and more.

There are various petting and animal handling sessions throughout the day with elves who will assist you. 



Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review - reindeer





Groom a Christmas Pony

You are provided with an activity schedule on arrival (see below for ours - I don't imagine others will be dis-similar).  I would recommend taking a photo of the schedule (as the paper copy can get crumpled/lost/wet) and making a loose plan of action on arrival.

One activity we didn't want to miss out on was grooming a Christmas Pony. Ah I love Heidi's face in this photo - she loved it. 

Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review - Christmas pony grooming




Write a Christmas Wish & watch as Birds of Prey fly them to the North Pole


This is such a cute little activity included in Winter Wonderland. You write a special wish on your Christmas Wish Tag and hang it on the wishing tree. Then at various points throughout the day, the birds of prey will collect the wishes and fly them high to the North Pole. Cute!

Although I have to say, I am not too keen on Heidi's wish so I *may* have made a wish of my own for the birds to accidentally drop Heidi's wish......

Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - Christmas wish tree





Christmas Tractor Sleigh Rides


It wouldn't be a trip to a Christmas Farm without a bumpy tractor ride. The resident tractor has been transformed into a sleigh over the festive period and sets off at various intervals throughout the day.

You can also climb aboard a more traditional sleigh and pose for photos in one of the barns. 

Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review - tractor sleigh ride





Enjoy the Facilities & Animals at Whitehouse Farm

As well as festive activities, you are free to enjoy all that Whitehouse Farm has to offer throughout the day. We were there from 10am-3pm and it is definitely the kind of place you can spend all day.

The farm had a major upgrade to their outdoor play equipment earlier in the year. If you are lucky to visit on a dry day, the outdoor play areas are fantastic (read about them here).

Other facilities include:

  • Go Karts
  • Hundreds of animals to pet and feed
  • An indoor soft play barn
  • Outdoor play areas 
  • Maze 
  • Birds of Prey area
  • and lots more.....



Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - activity times








Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - bunny stroking





Lunch at Whitehouse Farm



There is an indoor heated picnic barn at Whitehouse Farm and you are welcome to bring a picnic or a flask to enjoy here. We nearly always choose to enjoy lunch in the cafe though, especially in winter when a hot lunch helps to warm you through.

They had a festive jacket potato as a special and it was lush! Definitely recommend. The kids enjoyed chicken nuggets and a packed lunch bag. Prices are super reasonable and service is speedy.

Later in the day we stopped at the cafe for a hot chocolate. They were £2 each and there is a range of festive baked treats too.
Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - cafe menu


Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review - Kids packed lunch



Winter Wonderland Booking Information

We had such a lovely time experiencing Winter Wonderland and feel like it offers brilliant value. I love that it offers families a flexible structure to the day so there is no pressure. Activities are repeated 2/3 times throughout the day so it doesn't really matter too much if you miss something (which we nearly did as they wouldn't leave soft play) as you can try it again later in the day.

I also really appreciated that most activities set up indoors - it was raining heavily on the day of our visit but the only time we got wet was dashing between barns. Whitehouse Farm Winter Wonderland is a brilliant rainy day activity (which I am sure there will be many of) in the run up to Christmas.

Lots of the fun to be had was drop in and you could spend as much or as little time on activities as you liked. There was no huge structure and you never felt as if you were on a conveyor belt moving from one activity to the next as you sometimes feel with these types of places.



The Santa Experience  


The Santa Experience at Whitehouse Farm is exceptional. I preferred the experience at Whitehouse to both Santa on the Rooftop at Fenwick and Alnwick Garden.

When you book, you are given a time to visit Father Christmas. In 2019, the experience is held in an external barn (you have to exit the farm via the gift shop and follow the signs to the barns opposite the admissions booth/car park. Ask a member of staff if you are lost.

No buggies are permitted in the grotto but there is an undercover buggy store outside.

The Santa Experience at Whitehouse Farm includes all of the Winter Wonderland fun mentioned above plus the following.....


Grotto Visit

At Whitehouse Farm, families visit Father Christmas individually. Santa knows a little about each child and has SO much time.

This experience is so much more than simply asking children what they would like for Christmas and posing for a quick photo.

Santa tells jokes, shares stories (he told us the Queen snores), explains how his magic works, lets the kids know why Rudolph eats so many carrots and has a proper chat. I think the experience at Whitehouse Farm is the longest we have ever privately spent with Santa.

Throughout the visit, children are gifted a special certificate/personalised letter ,  some magic hay to leave out for the reindeer (which Santa warned us not to feed our pets unless we wanted them to fly away) and a special magic heart which we would later place in our teddy bear from the toy workshop and cuddle on Christmas Eve.

Heidi and Jack were captivated with Santa at Whitehouse Farm and I actually nearly cried at how good it was. Their faces in the photos say it all.






Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review - Santa in his grotto




Festive Crafts with the Elves


Your Santa Experience ticket includes time with the elves to take part in some festive crafts. The elves are so friendly and this was a lovely and chilled activity. You do this in a festive room as you are waiting to go through the see Santa.

We decorated some festive door hangers, a festive snowman tree decoration, wrote a letter to Santa, created another tree decoration (the type where you scratch a pattern off), made pop-up cards and more. I helped Jack with his and there is something about doing festive crafts with the kids which really helps you to take time out from the Christmas craziness and I really enjoyed it.

The elves have thought of everything - for those who don't like crafts there are Christmas stories to read by the tree and there are baby toys to entertain little babies as their older siblings craft.

All to the backdrop of festive music and a bit of a chat with the elves. Lovely. 





Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - Christmas books


Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - Christmas crafts



Personalised Letter from Santa
Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - letter from santa


Toy Workshop

Despite visiting THE perfect Santa, the toy workshop was still Heidi and Jacks favorite part from the day. They seriously live for this kind of thing.

Children can pick a toy and the elves will help children to stuff the toys until they are perfect for cuddling.

Children kiss the heart they were given by Santa, make one last Christmas wish and then the heart is sewn into their soft toy by the elves.

The idea is, you cuddle the soft toy on Christmas Eve and your wishes will come true.

I think the toy workshop is much better than simply receiving a toy from Santa - it is so much more personal and really involves the children. Heidi and Jack took their soft toys around soft play afterwards and as I type this, they are snuggled up with them on the sofa. Cute! I know they will be cherished.

There are add-ons (outfits for £9.99) but there is zero hard sell and H and J didn't event notice them (they were never mentioned).

At the end of the whole Santa experience, you are provided with a bag which is much needed to carry everything. I really would have liked to have put everything in the car at this point but H & J were super attached to their crafts/ soft toys/certificates and insisted on carrying them around the farm for the full day!





Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review  - build a bear



Christmas at Whitehouse Farm - Top Tips 
  • Wear wellies and thermal socks if it is raining. There are puddles which children won't be able to resist jumping in

  • Bring change for the cookie decorating (£2 each)

  • Keep Winter Wonderland in mind for a rainy day (or non-rainy day) idea which does not need to be pre-booked

  • Make a loose plan of action at the start of the day and photograph the activity schedule in case you lose it

  • It wasn't too cold on the day of our visit - Christmas jumpers and hats look cute in photos. Don't forget gloves and winter coats 

  • Bring a flask of hot chocolate and mince pies to enjoy in the picnic barn as a mid-afternoon snack

  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling animals 

  • Bring a backpack to carry everything you are provided with throughout the day 

  • We usually buy one bag of animal feed to share in the winter 

  • Parking is FREE

  • Aim to spend 5 hours (or more) at the farm to cover everything

  • If you are looking for somewhere to eat on the way home, I highly recommend St Marys Inn along the road - it is a lovely country pub

  • If you are stuck/can't find your way/would like to cuddle an animal, ask an elf - they are always happy to help 

  • Whitehouse Farm is an excellent place to visit as part of a group or big Christmas day out with family or friends - we often do this and it is a lush way to spend some time together. 

  • You don't need to have children to visit Whitehouse Farm! Steve and I used to visit pre-kids

  • I would recommend for all ages from babies (they will love the lights and animals) to teens (although it won't be for all teens - Heidi will still want to visit when she is 15 but Harry is too cool now!)

Find out more here:  https://www.whitehousefarmcentre.co.uk/

Let me know if you have visited Whitehouse Farm at Christmas time or if you fancy it.

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Thank you for your support as always. 

Please follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines , respect the local area. leave no trace, take litter home, park responsibly and if somewhere is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Always check updated opening hours / protocols with venues direct before setting off as things may have changed since this post was published.  

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Christmas & Santa at Whitehouse Farm - A Review







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