Remember back in the Spring when we visited Seaton Delaval Hall and I announced that I was eager to explore the rest of the National Trust sites in the North East? Well it may have taken us 5 months but we finally ticked a second off our list last weekend when we went to try out the Autumn walks at the National Trust site at Gibside.
Having spent the weeks after our wedding eating far too much food and with a running injury that's prevented me from putting on my trainers, I've found myself desperate to get out for a long Autumn walk and Gibside seemed like the perfect spot to get some much needed exercise. So last weekend with sunshine on the forecast Simon and I set off on a National Trust adventure.
I am the biggest fan of National Trust and the amount that they have to offer their visitors. It doesn't matter if you're newlyweds, a group of friends, a family of four or a retired couple, there really is something for everyone at their sites and every time we go I find myself so excited by all that's on offer.
We timed our visit to Gibside perfectly with their Halloween celebrations. There were plenty of pumpkins, creepy cobwebs tangled about and everywhere we looked excited children were running around. I couldn't help but join in. Maybe it's the promise of silly costumes and endless sweets but Halloween just brings out the complete kid in me.
Walking at Gibside is hugely popular, something we realised as soon as we parked the car and noticed how many people were changing into their walking boots. Looking down at our own battered old shoes we decided that we might need to invest in some proper footwear sometime soon and that we perhaps better stick to one of the easier walks.
There are four Autumn walks at Gibside that are conveniently marked out for you on a map that you can pick up at the admission desk. Each one offers something different with a nice description and the amount of miles explained so you can easily pick out the right walking route for you. Luckily no map reading skills are required as each walk is clearly marked out with coloured arrows pointing you in the right direction.
I was really tempted to do the 4.4 mile Valley Views Trail which offers amazing views across the Derwent Valley but we decided with the uneven paths and hills it might be better to leave that for a day when we're wearing more sensible footwear. Instead we opted for the Gibside Explorer Trail, a nice easy 2.2 mile walk round the grounds and through the woods.
The seasons have changed so dramatically recently and it's felt like the leaves have literally turned colour overnight, welcoming us into Autumn with the most beautiful orange, yellow and reds. Is it just me or is Autumn even more beautiful than usual this year?
Gibside is the perfect location for Autumn Walking with plenty of picture perfect trees providing tons of leaves to crunch your way through. Kicking about in piles of coloured leaves never fails to make me smile although we had to be extra careful where we walked as massive acorns were constantly dropping from the sky. Simon was convinced it was angry squirrels chucking things at us.
Although Gibside was busy in the main areas around the shops and cafes we soon found ourselves strolling through some really peaceful stretches of woodland, giving us plenty of time for our favourite activity - stealthily moving through the undergrowth looking for wildlife.
It wasn't long before we completely regretted our outfit choices, leaving the house that morning wrapped up in my beautiful tartan scarf I was feeling pretty season appropriate, but as the sun shone down on us as we climbed up the small hills on our walk we soon began to feel a little warm. It was good to know that despite the Gibside Explorer Trail being the easiest of the walks we were still getting a decent amount of exercise.
Before we knew it we had completed our loop and were back at the beginning, greeted by the tempting smell of food from the nearby cafe. Sticking our noses round the door we were pretty tempted to stop for a bowl of hot soup but in the end decided to climb back into our car and head to Daniel Farm in Wylam, somewhere that I've been wanting to take Simon ever since my visit in September.
Our first visit to Gibside was a very happy one and we will definitely be returning (especially as Simon's Mum is getting us National Trust membership for Christmas!). I'm very keen to give their Saturday morning parkrun a go once my leg is better and I hear that the Gibside Pub (complete with pizza cooked in their wood-fired oven) is very popular at the weekend.
Let me know where we should head to next! I'm very keen to go on lots more Autumnal walks!