Is Ad Gefrin Child Friendly?

 This post is based on a visit which we paid for ourselves in April 2024. As always, please check with venues direct for the most up-to-date info, especially regarding opening times and costs. 

Ad Gefrin is a visitor attraction in Wooler, Northumberland. There are three main parts to Ad Gefrin and you can visit just one aspect, two areas or go all out and enjoy the full experience as we did. The main areas are: 

  • Anglo-Saxon Museum 
  • Distillery (Tours & Tastings) 
  • Bistro 

I will review each experience independently. If you want my TLDR version, I would say that Ad Gefrin is best suited to young people aged 11+, teenagers and adults rather than somewhere to visit with young children. 

Ad Gefrin Bistro Review 

The Bistro is stylish yet relaxed and I would 100% feel comfortable bringing children here. There's outdoor seating (also dog friendly) available too. Booking in advance is recommended although on quieter days they can probably squeeze you in if there's space. 

The food on offer here is really good quality and I'd recommend if you're looking for good food in a nice setting that isn't too formal. There is space for pushchairs and highchairs are available. 

I will however say that on the day of our visit, service was slow/not the best. It was 40 minutes from us arriving before we were presented with our pre-ordered afternoon tea and they didn't bring the extra drinks over we requested so we had to eat without a drink 

I mention this as when I'm dining with younger kids, I like to be in and out and would find the slow service stressful. I have noticed a few other reviews mentioning slow service and this seems to be down to being short staffed.

There are other reviews that say service has been excellent so I think it is just down to the luck of the draw and how well staffed/busy they are on the day you visit. 

Worth the wait though, like I say, our food was so nice. 

A children's menu is available and it's reasonably priced too. Currently the options are: 
  • Burger, chips and salad (£6) 
  • Fish bites, chips and mushy peas (£6) 
  • Ham/cheese sandwich, crisps and fruit (£5) 
  • Children's Sunday Roast (Sundays only - £14) 
We don't have any allergies in our family so I can't speak from first hand experience but they seem to offer GF, V and Ve options which are marked on their menus. 

Ad Gefrin Anglo-Saxon Museum & Great Hall Review 

There are a few different options for booking: 
  • Distillery Tour, Tasting & Museum Entry - £25 per adult, £12.50 per child (ages 8+ only) 
  • Great Hall and Museum Entry - £10 per adult, £5 per child (8+) / £25 per family. Under 8s go free
  • Annual Membership - £40 per person 

It's best to book ahead online if taking a distillery tour as there are limited numbers but if you're just going to museum, you can pay on arrival or book ahead. 

Anglo-Saxon History usually forms part of the KS2 Curriculum (school years 3-6 or between ages 7-11). This era doesn't usually form part of Secondary School education. 

This is where I think the museum has missed a trick as in my opinion, the museum is aimed at older children, teens and adults. If you're looking for an Anglo-Saxon Museum suitable for younger children, I would suggest looking at Jarrow Hall in South Tyneside. 

That's not to say younger children shouldn't visit of course (especially as they're free). I just think older children, teens and adults will get more from their visit. 

The museum is small and split across two rooms. It's accessible via the most beautiful staircase or there's a lift too.

The museum is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs and there is an accessible toilet available (although considering Ad Gefrin received nearly £5million of public funding, I'm disappointed that this isn't a changing places toilet - the closest ones are over 10 miles away at Seahouses, Berwick or Holy Island).

The first room is super immersive and you can take in the sights, smells and sounds of Anglo-Saxon life. The museum is focused around 'Ad Gefrin' which was an Anglo-Saxon palace discovered a few miles from Wooler. 

There are two throne style seats to sit on in this room as well as benches and you're invited to watch a film which is projected across the main wall and introduces you to the various characters you would have found at Ad Gefrin - from slaves up to royalty. 

It's an informative film and worth a watch but quite lengthy and I reckon most younger children will lose interest. 

I personally enjoyed listening to the musical interludes as I wandered around - it added to the authenticity of the experience. 

The two sides of this room are lined with tables and decorated Anglo-Saxon style. On the day of our visit, they had traditional Anglo-Saxon game similar to chess to play on one side and then Anglo-Saxon colouring on the other. 

Now into the second room which contains real artefacts from Ad Gefrin and Anglo-Saxon Northumberland and focuses on the region's 'Golden Age' (616-670) where art, faith and learning took centre stage and changed Northumberland forever. 

Ad Gefrin was a summer residence for three Kings and was where some of the first conversions to Christianity took place in the North. 

I found this section of the museum to be really interesting and well laid out. It's been done really well with artwork and concise information boards alongside real Anglo-Saxon objects. 

To get the most out of this section, it is best to read the info which is partly why I think this museum is best suited to older children/teens/adults. 

I really appreciated being able to get a closer look at some of these Anglo-Saxon items. The designs are so intricate and it's crazy to me that they're over 1000 years old. 

We loved seeing parts of swords and shields on display and some of the items in the museum have been returned to the North East and not seen in public in years so it really is quite special. 

How cool is the sewing equipment below! I like that there's an illustration behind showing how these was used. It's remarkable how they're in such good condition. 

The Museum and Great Hall are small but were super interesting to me. For me, it was worth the admission. If you have older kids / teens interested in history, I think they'll enjoy this museum too.

You can combine with a visit to the actual Ad Gefrin a few miles down the road - you'll need your imagination as just an outline remains but there's an information board and parts have yet to be explored still so who knows what treasures you're walking amongst. 

There's little in the way of interactive activities, dressing up or hands on fun and there's a lot of info to read and process which is why I think Jarrow Hall is better than Ad Gefrin for younger kids (it has animals too).

However as I say, under 8s are free so if you fancy a visit, younger ones can enjoy the colouring activities as you explore.

They also run special events across school holidays with actors / demonstrations if you are visiting with under 8s, I'd maybe plan to visit on a special event day where there are extra activities included for kids. 

Ad Gefrin Distillery Tour & Tastings 

You need to be aged 8+ to join a distillery tour. You are welcome to visit the museum both before and after your tour at any time. Randomly, nobody checked our tickets for anything and of course I don't advocate this but I did feel like we could have just walked in without paying. 

At the moment, there seem to be four tours a day at 11am, 12:30pm, 1:45pm and 3pm. Many tours do sell out so I'd recommend booking in advance if you can. Tours last 90 minutes (60 minutes on the tour, 30 minutes during the tasting). 

We booked onto the last tour of the day which took place when all of the machinery had been switched off which was great as there wasn't much external noise to contend with. Because our tour was the last of the day, it did run over a bit too and was closer to 2 hours in length. I think it's unlikely the earlier tours will run over but the last tour of the day does feel pretty relaxed. 

You meet just in the museum on benches by this door at the allocated time. There were 16 guests on our tour which was taken by Lesley. 

High heeled shoes are not permitted as you do walk over grates. You are standing for most of the time and there are stairs to navigate although adaptations can be provided for those who need them. 

This was the third distillery tour I've taken (I've also taken the Lakes Distillery Tour and the Glengoyne Distillery Tour - both also fantastic) and I still learned a lot and found it super interesting. 

The tour is an excellent balance of the scientific process, some of the myths around whisky making, the history of the area/building, stories around the family who built the distillery and how local farmers and businesses are used in the process. There's quite a bit of info around sustainability too. 

I think the real mix of stories really keeps the tour entertaining. It's far more than the guide just pointing at machinery and explaining what it does. I feel like you really get to know the heart of the business. Lesley was so passionate and knowledgable and even if you don't like whisky but love Northumberland, it's really worth taking the tour. 

I loved how beautiful all of the equipment is too - it's a real privilege being able to admire it all up close. 

If one of the engineers / distillers are about, they'll pop over and give some info and answer questions too. It's brilliant being able to get first hand knowledge like this. 

Some of the tour takes you outdoors and you learn a little about the aromatics used in the gin making process.

You can also see some of the original building features and learn more about the architecture of the building now and the design process. It's a real mix of info. I loved seeing the arch where a water wheel once stood. 

You get to see where the Whisky is stored too - in a mix of new barrels and pre-used barrels imported from America. 

They don't know when the Whisky here will be ready to sell or how the final product will look - it's just a waiting game for now. 

Then I really enjoyed this digital overview of the full process at the end. It really brought the whole thing together. 

The tour was really thorough without being boring. I loved it and will be booking again in a few years time to learn more about how things have progressed. 

Next, we were shown into the tasting room. Lesley left us and we were left in the hands of a very entertaining Scotsman who led us through the tasting. 

The tasting room is beautiful, you're surround by digital walls which change with the seasons along with peaceful music. This room definitely wasn't an after-thought. 

You are provided with 2 tasters (1 blended whisky, 1 gin made on site). I would say they were around 5/10mls each. Plus mixers. Non-alcoholic versions are provided for under 18s and a few of the more enthusiastic guests were provided with top ups. 

We were given tips on the proper way to taste whisky and gin and how to add mixers too. It was super relaxed and informal yet educational too. A lovely end to our tour. Of course, it was exit through the gift shop.......

Tacnbora is a whisky that is not produced but blended on site and is available for £42.50 per bottle. We decided to go for their Thirlings Gin (£39) instead which is produced on site and really nice. 

Sometimes I do think cynically and think that tours are just one elaborate sales pitch. It does feel like that at times. Every distillery seems to think that they are the best and the tours do of course promote their own product and membership offers. There's no hard sell though, it's all very subtle and plenty of people leave without making a purchase. 

Once their own whisky is available for sale, I'm sure we'll be back to buy a bottle. 

Our teens didn't join us on this tour but they have joined us on distillery tours in the past. I think it depends on their personality whether they'd enjoy it or not. My three are fairly inquisitive and I know they would enjoy the tour here too. 

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Is Ad Gefrin Child Friendly?

Other Child-Friendly Activities in Wooler 

If you did want to visit Ad Gefrin Museum with younger children, I don't think you'd be in there for very long so here are some ideas for other things to do in the area: 

Doddington Dairy Milk Bar 

The Doddington Dairy Milk Bar is a short walk from the distillery. They're a lush ice cream parlour and have a milkshake vending machine too.

Read more here:

Scotts Park Playground 

Just across the river from Ad Gefrin is Scotts Park Playground - it's fab with a zip wire, climbing frame, swings inc toddler swings, zip wire and skate boarding area.

You can just about make it out in the photo above which was taken across the road from Ad Gefrin. 

Linhope Spout Waterfall 

This is a popular waterfall walk not too far from Wooler. 

Ingram Valley 

Ingram Valley is one of our favourite picnic spots / places to paddle and it's just a short drive from Wooler. 

Read our Ingram Valley Guide here: Ingram Valley Guide 

Ford & Etal

Ford and Etal is such a beautiful part of Northumberland. Stepping into these villages is like going back in time. There's a mini railway, traditional flour mill, heavy horse farm and more. 

Make sure you read 15 Things to do at Ford & Etal if you're thinking of visiting. 

Child-Friendly Places to Stay near Ad Gefrin 

Riverside Leisure Park and Breamish Valley Cottages  are both places I have stayed before and would recommend. 



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