Tuesday 28 May 2019

Visiting the Rhododendrons at National Trust Cragside

This is a sponsored collaboration with National Trust

I'm the kind of person that makes notes in their phone of when all the seasonal flowers are in bloom and the best places across the North East to see them. I've been known to drive for hours to track down beautiful blossoms and have dragged my husband out of bed at all times of the morning to locate colourful flowers. If you think I'm joking you probably haven't read my North East Flowers in Bloom Trail, believe me I take all of this very seriously!

Visiting the Rhododendrons at National Trust Cragside
One place in the North East that has been on my flower watch list for a time now is Cragside, home to the region's most beautiful display of Rhododendrons.

With only a two to three week window to see them in full bloom, a visit takes a little bit of diary organisation which is perhaps why we'd never made it before.  So to save you the bother of working out when to go, I've done all of the careful watching and waiting for you so I can tell you that NOW is the time!

We made the beautiful drive up to Northumberland on a wet Bank Holiday Monday to discover the first colours of Summer and if you've always been wanting to visit the Rhododendrons at Cragside you will hopefully find this little guide helpful.

Rhododendrons at National Trust Cragside
The Rhododendron collection at Cragside is huge, they are spread across the estate so it would be impossible to visit and miss them, however there are a few key locations around the site that offer the most impressive views of the flowers that I'm going to be sharing with you in our guide.

So if you're looking for the flower lovers perfect day trip (with a little pit stop for tea and cake!) then this is going to be right up your street.

Welcome to my Guide to Visiting the Rhododendron at National Trust Cragside!

The Rock Garden

We began our adventure by leaving our car in the main carpark and walking towards Cragside House to explore the Rock Garden, which is probably Cragside's most famous part of their Rhododendron collection and a great place to start your Rhododendron trail.

Rhododendrons National Trust Cragside

You'll find the Rhododendron scattered amongst the rocks underneath Cragside House and on the banks overlooking the garden. Splashes of colour everywhere you turn they look absolutely beautiful. This part of the Estate isn't yet in full bloom and we spotted plenty of buds just waiting to flourish and I think by next weekend the Rock Gardens are going to look incredible.

If it's the truly iconic Cragside view you are after I recommend making your way over the iron bridge below the rock garden and down to the valley where you can look back at the house and admire all of the different coloured flowers underneath the house.

It really takes your breath away and has to be one of Northumberland's most impressive views.

National Trust Cragside
This part of your Rhododendron trail is also the ideal time to stop for a cuppa and a slice of something nice as the tea room and visitor centre are just a short walk away.  Although there are other spots along the trail where you can grab some refreshments the tea room offers the greatest selection of cakes as well as the opportunity to buy jam in the gift shop (I don't know where this obsession started but recently we've gone a little nuts about National Trust jam!)

The tea room at Cragside has plenty of seats and I'd say is the largest out of all the North East National Trust sites.

National Trust Cragside - Tea Room
Although we were quite tempted by the delicious smell of breakfast sandwiches, we had to go for our usual order.

We have become so addicted to the National Trust's scones recently that every time we visit we can't resist having one - we like to select the largest we can find (forever greedy!), always dig out a jar of raspberry jam and buy a pot of cream each to save arguments.  I'm sure many a marriage has been saved by not having to share toppings for scones.

National Trust Cragside Scone
The Estate Drive

One of the best ways to see the full collection of Rhododendron at Cragside is to take your car round the Estate Drive, a six mile circular route it takes you all round the site with nine carparks along the way giving you plenty of opportunity to stop and admire any part that takes your fancy. With so much changing landscape at Cragside it is the best way to get around and enjoy a full experience. The Estate Drive will take you from pine forests to lakes, through rock formations to hillside views and out to the moors - it is a stunning way to experience Cragside.

The historic carraigeway also offers a perfect opportunity to experience the Rhododendron as Lord Armstrong's guests would have done and truly appreciate exactly how many Rhododendron there are at Cragside.

Some of the most colourful displays can be seen from the comfort of your car and it's a great way to enjoy the full experience. The route wasn't too crowded as we were driving round and we easily managed to pull over to admire a few of the more impressive displays.

Rhododendrons at National Trust Cragside - Estate Drive

Nelly's Moss Lake

If you fancy a bit of a walk while you're exploring the Rhododendrons I recommend a nice little potter round Nelly's Moss Lake. There are several carparks in that part of the estate but we left ours in the Crozier Carpark which is a great spot with a very impressive looking children's playground, toilets and a coffee and ice-cream kiosk.

There's a circular path round Nelly's Moss Lake and with Rhododendron at the waters edge and towering over the paths it looks absolutely stunning. The dramatic landscape of rock and water really makes the colours pop and on a clear day when the water is still you can get some really beautiful views of the flowers reflected in the water - a must visit if you're a keen photographer.

Rhododendrons at National Trust Cragside - Lake

We spent ages walking along the water admiring the Rhododendron and I have to say this was my favourite part of our day. I couldn't get over how beautiful the views were and each corner we turned we were greeted by scenery even more spectacular than before.  The rock garden at the house may be the most iconic  Rhododendron display at Cragside but I have to say the flowers round Nelly's Moss Lake are the real hidden gem of the estate.

Rhododendrons at National Trust Cragside - Nelly's Moss Lake
It was a lovely quiet spot to enjoy, we only passed a couple of other ramblers and we couldn't believe how many tables we found perched up on the rocks, offering beautiful views of the lake and Rhododendron, we'll definitely be bringing a picnic to enjoy on our next visit!

Rhododendrons National Trust Cragside - Nelly's Moss Lake
The Labyrinth 

The Labyrinth is a nice walk from Nelly's Moss Lake or if you have tired legs you can move your car to the North Lake which is a little bit closer.

The Rhododendron bloom slightly later at The Labyrinth than the rest of the Estate so they weren't really showing their full glory when we visited but we still enjoyed getting lost round the twisting paths through the forest (Simon had great joy in telling a group of children that he had been the same age as them when we first got into the maze - I think they may have believed him!)

The maze is cut out of a huge area of the Rhododendron forest so over the next few weeks The Labyrinth will come to life with brightly coloured flowers towering over the paths.  We passed so many bushes that were beginning to bloom and there were plenty of buds just waiting to burst their petals - I can only begin to imagine how magical the Labyrinth must be when all of the flowers have come out.

Rhododendrons National Trust Cragside - Labyrinth

Having only experienced the Rhododendron at Cragside at the very beginning of the season I am so excited to return in June to see the flowers at their full glory. If you fancy going yourself and seeing the display in full bloom I recommend visiting some time between next Saturday (1 June) and around 15 June.

It is the most dreamy way to spend the day and we both had a really wonderful time discovering more about the beautiful flowers and what Cragside has to offer.

We can't wait to return!

What you need to know:
  • Adult admission is £20.90 and Children are £10.50 (gift aid prices). National Trust Members are free.
  • There are nine free carparks spread across the site, all accessible from within the site via the main entrance
  • It's impossible to say the exact best time to visit the Rhododendrons but they usually bloom from the end of May, with early to mid June being the best time to see them.
  • For information about opening times please see here

Find Cragside at:

NE65 7PX


Rhododendrons National Trust Cragside Northumberland

We were provided with a complimentary cream tea for two as well as a sponsored collaboration in return for this honest review of our day.


  1. Love visiting the national trust property's your photos are amazing it looks beautiful.

    Also scone procedure sounds too notch #alwaysapotofcreameach #monkeyfeetdoesntlikesharing

    1. Ahhh thank you so much! It's honestly a dream to photograph, so many beautiful flowers - I would have happily spent an entire weekend pottering around. You are definitely right, I can't believe we used to try and share the cream - what were we thinking?!

  2. Love a good national trust! a few years ago alan did some sign work up at the labrinyth! so we had to go to take a look!

    1. Me too! Getting our membership was the best decision we ever made, I love that we always have somewhere beautiful to go! I don't think I could be without it now!

  3. Nelly’s Moss Lake is our favourite spot here, so beautiful! Cragside is right on our doorstep and we feel so lucky to be able to “pop” along whenever we want. Glad you enjoyed your visit and what a great guide x

    1. I can't believe that we'd never been to Nelly's Moss Lake before, we've had our membership for over 2 years and it was only this weekend we really discovered how incredible Cragside is! I don't know why on earth we haven't been visiting more regularly!

  4. I do love a good National Trust property! This looks absolutely amazing and your photos are beautiful.

    The Crown Wings | UK Travel & Lifestyle Blog

    1. Ahhh thank you so much, minimal effort required - they looked so so beautiful it was impossible not to take a good picture!

  5. Ooooooohhh beautiful photos!!! I think I should add this to my list.

    1. Thank you! Yes it's definitely worth a visit, but make sure you go soon because the flowers won't be out for much longer!

  6. Cannot beat a day trip to Cragside, it's unbelievable how we have this gorgeous place on our doorstep! I just love your posts like this, they really show off our lovely region. Really want to book a weekend in Northumberland to re-visit all my fave spots and find some new ones - will of course be using your blog for inspo as always! Melis x

    1. Ahhh thank you so much! We've got a week off coming up soon and we'll be spending it in the North East, I love to take a week off every year just to go on adventures close to home!

  7. We've still not been to Cragside yet - as National Trust newbies but after reading this I'm dying to go now.

    1. It's the perfect spot for families, so much space to run about in and the children's play area looked fantastic!

  8. This looks like a wonderful place to visit. Such beautiful flowers too :)

    1. It is absolutely lovely there - very peaceful and so so beautiful!


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