While you are in Haltwhistle you shouldn't miss the opportunity to visit Bellister Castle, a National Trust owned castellated 19th-century Mansion House attached to the ruinous remains of a 14th-century tower house.
Bellister Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade I listed building and stands on a mound which may have been the motte of an early motte and bailey castle. A moated hall house existed on the site in the 13th century and a substantial tower was added to the western end in the 14th century. A survey of 1541 records a tower house occupied by Blenkinsop (of the family of nearby Blenkinsop Castle) in a 'measurable good' state of repair. In about 1699 the property was enlarged into a three storey castellated house. The Blenkinsop family sold their estates including Bellister in 1697 and the castle was thereafter held by several different owners. Owned by the National Trust since 1976, it is now on a long term tenancy. Although it is not open to the public, the castle can be viewed from public footpaths that run through the adjoining woods, also owned by The National Trust.
Ghosts of the past
Legend has it that a musician had called at the castle and afforded food and a night's rest, only for the lord of the castle to become suspicious of him. Picking up on his host's hostile manner, the minstrel left the castle instead of retiring to bed, which confirmed the lord's suspicions and he set his hunting dogs to go after him. The dogs tore the musician limb from limb, and to this day he is said to haunt the castle grounds, with some guests reporting hearing the sound of baying hounds and a man screaming.
The grounds are also home to an old sycamore, known as the hanging tree, where royalist Cavaliers during the civil war are said to have executed defeated parliamentary troops, known as Roundheads.
Good walks around the castle
Bellister Castle circular walk 2½ miles » Get a map
Broomhouse Common circular walk 6 miles » Get a map
Featherstone Bridge circular walk 6 miles » Get a map