For those for whom a thrilling and awe-inspiring drive to their chosen accommodation is an added luxury break bonus, there is no better place to feel driven to visit than Langley Castle, in Langley-on-Tyne, Northumberland.
Anyone approaching this 1350 medieval fortified English castle hotel form the south, can exit the M6 motorway at Penrith and head for the A686. This was named one of England’s ‘Ten Great Drives’ by motoring organisation the AA.
The A686 takes drivers through charming Eden Valley villages, such as Melmerby, before making a hairpin-bend-filled, extraordinarily steep ascent up Hartside, on a route loved by sports car enthusiasts and motorcyclists alike.
The thrill of driving up the A686
You will see plenty of both types of petrol-head relishing the driving challenge, with its climb to 1900 feet above sea level. You can also drink in stunning views of the Eden Valley.
Stop at the car park at the top. If you look down on the winding route you have climbed, it is truly exhilarating. However, more lies ahead. You will soon pass through the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, rich in wildlife and natural wonder.
From there, you will drive through England’s highest market settlement – Alston – seek sunlight in shaded woodland roads and then arrive at England’s most authentic medieval castle hotel, Langley Castle. If you do, you will be following in the recent tread marks of TV presenter, Richard Hammond.
A true English castle hotel
Sweeping up the drive and gaining your first view of the castle is a huge thrill. Goosebumps are also a regular sensation on entering the chandelier-filled drawing room, where window seats are set into seven-feet-thick walls.
The four-star accommodation, at which Hammond recently enjoyed a pit-stop as part of a Bespoke Rallies event, is just a few miles from World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall. The medieval town of Hexham and its Abbey, is also a short drive away. So too is Hexham Racecourse.
With its 673-year history, four-poster beds, original castle features, 2 AA Rosette restaurant and beautiful wooded and lawned grounds, there is masses to do at Langley Castle, even setting the driving thrill up or down Hartside aside.
Authentic English castle history
Guests – or non-residents dropping in at 10am – can enjoy a daily Battlements Tour, to learn more about the castle’s genuine fortifications and rich history. Foodies may prefer sumptuous afternoon teas served in the castle’s drawing room, over which knights in shining armour keep guard. Refreshments and food are always available to any non-resident not having time to stay over but wishing to drink in the Langley experience and the A686 drive.
Those calling in for a short or longer time, can also learn about links to the Harry Potter books and also see Langley Castle’s Garderobes. These are the best example of medieval ‘loos’ in Europe today.
Relaxation can be found in a window seat – a unique book nook for avid readers – or enjoyed whilst spotting the majestic peacocks that roam around the grounds. An early morning or post-dinner walk to the enchanting woodland grove is also great for mindfulness.
Guests and non-residents can dine in the hotel’s Josephine Restaurant or choose to have a more relaxed meal in the Drawing Room. Those staying over can then settle down in one of the hotel’s 28 luxurious rooms, which can be inside the castle itself, in the more contemporary Castle View suites or rooms, or in Castle Lodge accommodation, in the grounds.
Castle rooms and things on the doorstep
Castle rooms are graded as Feature or Deluxe. They offer facilities such as four-poster beds, spa bath and sauna, dependent on room choice. Castle View and Castle Lodge accommodation provides guests with mesmerising views of the castle, as they walk towards it. That could be for time spent in the Drawing Room, for afternoon snacks or evening meal, or their hearty Northumbrian breakfast.
Those driven to visit Langley Castle through a passion for driving, will find many other great places within around a one-hour drive-time, whether that is Kielder Forest, Newcastle city centre, historic Carlisle or Gretna Green. Allow 90 minutes and you can easily reach the Northumberland coast, Alnwick with its world-famous Castle and Gardens, the northern Lake District (including Grasmere, home to poet William Wordsworth), and atmospheric Durham.
And, of course, there is always the chance to test the brakes on the drive back down the A686!
To find out more about the different accommodation and food and afternoon tea options available, visit www.langleycastle.co.uk
Stays cost from £159 for a double room, inclusive of bed and breakfast.