Things to do
Oscar's Barn is situated on the border between County Durham and Teesdale which grants any visitor access to a broad range of sights and activities. Watch the day go by from the comfort of an idyllic tea room in one of the local historic towns, or challenge yourself to climb to the top of a peak in the Tees Valley or Lakes District!
To help you get the most from your stay, we've collected a list of places of interest to help inspire your discovery of this beautiful part of the country.
For more informaiton about any of these locations, simply click on the place name to be taken directly to their web-site, or click on the Distance & Time link under the description to be shown a map with directions from Oscars Barn.
Local Historic & Market Towns
The historic town of Richmond known as the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales is centred around a Norman castle in the market square. For art lovers, The Georgian Theatre Royal hosts regular shows throughout the year while the Millgate House Gardens, Green Howards Museum and Richmondshire Museum are all well worth a visit. Alternatively, browse around The Station complex with its mini brewery, cheese making, chocolate shop, ice-cream parlour and on site bakery.
The small historic village of Piercebridge is a picturesque collection of Georgian and Victorian cottages, but also home to ancient Roman fort from around the year 260 AD. The excavated fort is open to the public which you can investigate before following one of the beautiful river walks before finishing up in the tea rooms of the local farm shop.
Explore the historic market town of Barnard Castle with its elegant Georgian and Victorian architecture, medieval castle, riverside walks, specialist shopping and 'The Banks' antiques area. After indulging in the local cafes serving delicious home-made food and viewing the peculiar octagonal 'Market Cross', meander through Flatts Woods to be at one with nature at its finest, or visit the magnificent Bowes Museum just a short walk from the town centre.
A contemporary market town with a pedestrianised, compact town centre where shopaholics can discover a range of designer and independent shops, peruse quality markets and enjoy a gorgeous lunch in a continental cafe.
Darlington folk are justifiably proud of the town’s world famous rail heritage so no trip would be complete without a visit to the Darlington Railway Centre & Museum to see Stephenson’s “Locomotion”
The pretty market town of Northallerton is just 30 minutes south. Market days are Wednesdays and Saturdays when both sides of the High Street are home to stalls selling a wide range of items. On the fourth Wednesday of the month the market is joined by a farmers market selling local produce and food. A visit to Betty's Tearooms, Barkers Store, and Lewis and Coopers Delicatessant here is a must.
Museums and Heritage
Beamish is a world famous open air museum telling the story of the people of North East England. The story of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian life is told by costumed staff and volunteers in a unique living and working museum. Most of the houses, shops and other buildings have been dismantled, brought to Beamish and rebuilt there. This is no ordinary museum!
The Bowes Museum is a great day out for all visitors, including families, couples, the young and old, and special interest groups. Whether you’re looking for a fun and inspiring day out for the whole family, a quiet cultural sojourn for two or a group excursion with a difference, a visit to the Museum has it all.
There are acres of beautiful parkland to explore before you’ve even set foot inside, with woodland walks that are easily navigable and accessible.
Set on a high rock above the River Tees, Barnard Castle takes its name from its 12th century founder, Bernard de Balliol. It was later developed by the Beauchamp family and then passed into the hands of Richard III.
With fantastic views over the Tees Gorge this fortress sits on the fringe of an attractive working market town also known as ‘Barney’ so there is plenty to do for families on a day out. Try and spot Richard's boar emblem carved above a window in the inner ward or visit the 'sensory garden' of scented plants and tactile objects.
The home of Lord Barnard and one of the finest medieval castles in England, Raby Castle has been in the Vane family since 1626, but its history spans over 600 years. Set in the heart of the Durham Dales, explore the Castle and its beautiful 200-acre deer park, with walled gardens, horse-drawn carriage collection, woodland play area, tearooms. Lorel’s Tea Room on the green is not to be missed!
With its breathtaking views of the Yorkshire Dales, Richmond Castle fully deserves its place as one of the finest tourist attractions in North Yorkshire. The castle was originally built to subdue the unruly North of England it is one of the greatest Norman fortresses in Britain.
Skim over the sands and causeway to Holy Island and prepare to enter another world. Lying just a few miles off the Northumberland coast, Holy Island as seen on Robson Green's Tales from Northumberland is cut off twice-daily from the rest of the world by fast-moving tides. Both an island and a picturesque village, Holy Island carries a wealth of history within its tidal walls. Visit the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory, birthplace of the Lindisfarne Gospels and home to the famous 'Rainbow Bridge' which spirals skyward, or wander up the Castle which rises up out of the sheer rock face at the top of the island.
Locomotion was the first national museum to be built in the North East and opened in 2004. Sited at Shildon, the home of the first ever steam hauled passenger train which operated during the opening ceremony of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825.
Visitors to the museum can see Timothy Hackworth's pioneering locomotive "Sans Pareil", built in 1829 to compete in the Rainhill Trials.
With their magnificent steam engines, beautiful rural stations and smartly uniformed staff, a visit to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway is like taking a step back in time. From the smoke and steam pouring from the engines to the cosy wood-panelled carriages and friendly conductor service, the railway is both lovingly preserved and charmingly authentic. It’s also the perfect starting point for a day out, whether you’re travelling between the rugged Yorkshire villages, hiking on the windswept moors or spending a day by the seaside in Whitby.
Fans of Harry Potter and of ITV's Heartbeat would do well to alight at Gothland along the way, as this charming station was the location of the magical Hogsmeade Station used by the young wizard, and home to the beloved Village of Aidensfield, Scripps Garage, and the Aidensfield Arms.
The Lake District is the largest of National Park in the UK, containing 16 lakes, over 150 peaks and 4 mountains, the highest of which is Scafell Pike. Whilst the heights are enough to scare even the most seasoned hiker, the bustling villages with their amazing views and beautiful scenery are home to a fantastic market of crafts and a plethora of amazing culinary experience.
From its rise as a trickle, high on the heather covered fells at the top of the North Pennines, to the top of the whin sill rock at Forest -in-Teesdale, the River Tees steadily grows and gathers pace, then it suddenly and spectacularly drops 21 metres into the plunge pool below.
Over the years they have been described as many things “The Jewel amongst the Hills” a “Timeless Place”, even “The Secret Garden of the North” and it was recently written that a visit to Eggleston Hall Gardens was like “Stepping back in Time.” Established for over 400 years, this site will bring hours of joy to any plant lover.
2000 hectares of mixed woodland lying between the Wear and Tees valleys on the edge of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Hamsterley is a delightful oasis of broadleaved and coniferous woodland, sprawling along the sides of a sheltered valley. Visitors to Hamsterley have no shortage of options when it comes to activities. With waymarked walks, bike hire, cycle routes and horse riding trails, all levels of fitness and ability are catered for. Cycle hire is available on site.
The Forbidden Corner is a unique labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises created within a four acre garden in the heart of Tupgill Park and the Yorkshire Dales. The temple of the underworld, the eye of the needle, a huge pyramid made of translucent glass, paths and passages that lead nowhere, extraordinary statues – at every turn there are decisions to make and tricks to avoid. This is a day out with a difference which will challenge and delight adults and children of all ages!
The Raby Hunt is the North East's first and only two Michelin star restaurant and is situated in the village of Summerhouse, less than two miles west of Oscar's Barn. The Raby Hunt now serves only one menu of between 12/15 courses, costing between £85-£110. The food is somewhat nouvelle cuisine but very, very good for that extra special meal.
This authentic 12th Century castle set in 18 acres of lawns and woodlands is a Best Western hotel about five minutes' drive away, the castle is home to the "Farmer's Bar" which offers a very good carvery, available every day between 12-2pm, costing around £8 per head.
Blagraves is the oldest house in Barnard Castle and has been playing host to weary travellers for some 500 years. Dine where Cromwell once dined and experience the atmosphere of this unique 15th Century building. Extremely charming, particularly during the winter months when you can enjoy your after dinner coffee in the warm glow of a very large inglenook fireplace. The Dining room is located upstairs and is a very intimate setting, limited to around 30 diners at a time. Food is excellent and is priced around £35 - £40 per head inclusive of starts, main and desserts. All food is locally sourced and cooked to order. To book telephone (01833) 637668
The restaurant at Headlam Hall is set over three rooms, each offering its own style and character. The Panelled room has a warm and intimate ambiance and the Orangery a fresh tranquil atmosphere. The food is freshly prepared with local produce and can be well matched with a wide selection of worldly wines. For bookings telephone (01325) 730238
A gastro-pub with a reasonably priced menu, guest real-ales and the occasional two-for-one offer, all just a few minutes' drive away.
This is a charming country pub some 5 minutes north of Oscar’s – inexpensive bar meals with a wide choice and a two for £10 meal deal on certain days. Last serving is 8.30 pm.
The Medievil Ulnaby Hall and farm shop is within 5 minutes drive of Oscar's. Don't let the name put you off though, they have the most charming tea rooms where delicious home made lunches and teas are available. During the summer months, you can even take a guided tour of this Medievil village! Their prime, grass fed, Belted Galloway beef can be purchased on site along with a wide range of other farm produce. Highly reccomended, this is where we purchase our own supplies!
Only 3 minutes away, Sam's offers excellent tea room and cafe facilities, absolutely perfect for a lazy breakfast! Of course, the garden centre is worth a look whilst you're there.
Situated off the A66 - Home baked cakes, afternoon tea, delicious lunches or Sunday roasts all freshly produced in their kitchen with home grown or reared produce. Early risers should definitely try their traditional Yorkshire breakfast. Quality specialist Regional foods with unique wines and spirits and some of the best cheeses in the North of England.
A charming little Farm Shop selling all organic produce and lovely homemade cakes and quiches as well as homegrown and hand reared farm produce.
Sports & Leisure
Having recently undergone an £18m refurbishment, the Billingham Forum is a modern, state-of-the-art leisure facility which offers gym facilities, swimming pool, sauna and (perhaps most importantly) a brand new ice pad in the Ice Arena! Why not give it a go?
The Dolphin Centre offers a range of family orientated leisure facilities, including a 25m competition standard pool, 5m board diving pool and two water slides.
In the nearby town of Bishop Auckland, the woodhouse close leisure complex offers a standard size pool and leisure facilities including a sauna and steam room.
The superb 18 hole golf course extends over 145 acres and with its picturesque setting and wonderful panoramic views of the surrounding area, it is an extremely pleasant course to play. Daily fees are available, contact the secretary on 01325 464458
This course offers a wide variety of holes from the picturesque and daunting 116 yard 'Pond Hole' to the testing 523 yard 'Sleeters' par 5. The full size greens have been constructed to USGA specification and are fully irrigated for year round performance. As well as grass tees there are also high quality artificial tees, again helping to maintain the course enjoyment throughout the year.
Situated in the Land of the Prince Bishops, with stunning views of the picturesque Wear Valley and Auckland Castle, this course is considered one of the treasures in County Durham. The course has some of the best fairways you could wish to play from and the greens are fine and true, and our 7th hole is regarded by many as one of the best in the North of England! 18 holes with daily fees available. Enquiries to 01388 661618
Only a few minutes' drive away just outside Darlington town centre, this little three screen cinema keeps the locals abreast of the latest big hits.
With 14 screens and free parking, this cinema is located on Teesside Park where you will also find a Hollywood Bowl, Gala Casino and a selection of popular restaurants.
My personal favourite and situated only a few minutes further away from the Showcase at Teesside Park, this cinema is located in Middlesbrough town centre with easy access to free parking and is surrounded by popular restaurants including Nando's, Starters and a Pizza Hut.
For film fanatics, the IMAX cinema at the Metrocentre in Gateshead is perhaps the only way to enjoy blockbuster movies; In extraordinarily high resolution with projection lights so bright they can be seen from the moon! Huge screens maximise your field of vision and state-of-the-art sound is tailored for each auditorium and finely tuned for each film.
A local theatre with an Edwardian feel, this is a welcoming venue with a huge variety in programme including musical numbers, stand-up comedy acts and drama filled theatrical performances. Telephone the box office on (01325) 486555
Sunderland Empire is one of the North East's flagship theatres. Showcasing season after season of record breaking smash hits from West End musicals such as Starlight Express, Miss Saigon and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to opera and ballet; cutting-edge comedy to very latest kids shows. Tickets are available via ATG Tickets on 0844 871 7633
The Theatre Royal is one of only nine Grade I Listed theatres in England and is regarded by many as the UK’s finest theatre building. Since it's opening in February 1837 it has been renovated many times, and following a major fire after a performance of Macbeth in 1899, the entire auditorium was re-designed by one of the world’s greatest theatre architects, Frank Matcham. As it stands today, it remains one of the most historic, cultural landmarks in the country and continues to dominate the heart of Newcastle’s Grainger Town. Tickets available via the website or the box office on 08448 11 21 21.