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Doxford Holiday Cottages, Northumberland : News & Offers

The Times 17 April 2010

Doxford Cottages, Northumberland

On the morning of my stay at Shellrig cottage on the Doxford Estate in Northumberland, I felt as though Nature was putting on a show. Looking out through french windows from the well-appointed kitchen (American-style chrome fridge and all mod cons), I saw a red squirrel springing happily across a grass bank leading to a thick oak wood. Next, a plump, golden pheasant came stomping past, looking slightly edgy even though it was not the hunting season. Then a wood pigeon paraded by on his way to one of the bird feeders placed near by.

It was a lovely way to spend breakfast  and the Doxford Cottages are truly a charming place to stay. I had arrived the afternoon before having been collected (part of the service) at Alnmouth station by John Pringle, who runs the cottages with his wife Sue on behalf of Lord Runciman, the owner of Doxford Estate. We drove through Alnwick, with its pretty castle and renowned gardens, and up a gravel drive lined with laurel hedges to reach the cottages, opened two years ago.

There are eight cottages, set around a courtyard amid wild, sparse, rolling countryside. The biggest sleeps eight, while mine had only a double bedroom. The cottages are very child-friendly: there is a big shared games room with table football and table tennis, another room with a TV and sofas for kids, and a playing field with a five-a-side football goal. Beyond the wood behind the cottages is a small lake with resident swans, which takes about 20 minutes to walk around.

The setting is almost hauntingly beautiful, and the cottages are of a high standard. The tasteful, cream-coloured living room had a plush carpet, oriental rug, comfy sofa, filled bookshelves, flats-creen TV, and a fine wood fire  which warmed up the room wonderfully. Upstairs, the bedroom was cosy, with floral-print curtains framing a window that looks out over the lake. It made a great hideaway.