Stanhope is a green and tranquil market town at the heart of the Durham Dales and your nearest town to Fairfield House. The town is a picturesque haven for visitors; the peaceful waters of the River Wear provide an idyllic backdrop for people who love being in the great outdoors, with the ford at Stanhope a popular location where walkers cross the river using giant stepping-stones.
Don’t miss the opportunity to see the famous fossil tree which is about 320 million years old, or visit the 12th Century Church of St Thomas – a reminder of the area’s Christian heritage where the Victorian font is made out of Frosterley marble.
Once you’ve explored the area, you may be after an afternoon tea in nearby Durham, so why not try the tranquil Botanic Garden Café, nestled on the edge of Durham City. Enjoy freshly prepared sandwiches using Northumberland Cheddar or local Durham ham. Nearby is the Stables Café, renovated in 2018 but retaining the character of the former horse stalls. It’s a stylish place to enjoy coffee, lunch or afternoon tea. Many of the stalls still bear the name plaques of the horses once housed there.
The Black Bull Inn in Frosterley is just over two miles away from Stanhope, and will provide you with wonderful British pub grub. The menu varies daily depending on the seasonal ingredients available and the chefs even make a point of catching fish and shooting rabbits and wood pigeon to ensure the freshest ingredients. Dishes such as herb crust lamb shoulder served with apricot and walnut stuffing or lightly spiced sweet potato and Doddingtons cheese crumble with cherry tomato salsa and rocket are enough to draw you in. And an enticing fireplace will ensure you stay cosy on a cold winter’s day.
Nestled on the north platform of the Stanhope terminus for Weardale Railway, Number 40 at Stanhope Station is named after the impressive number 40 steam locomotive that has operated on the railway throughout the years. Keeping the heritage theme, the cafe is a breath of fresh air to the railway. With indoor and outdoor bistro style seating and a menu comprising delectable treats (the fruit scones especially come highly recommended), this is an ideal stop for afternoon tea or a snack and rest while hiking some of the Coast to Coast walk.
For a great fish and chips supper when you don’t feel like cooking, try Freddie’s. A home-made batter made from scratch every day is the secret to their success, and the fish is all sustainably sourced from the North Atlantic.
Five miles from Fairfield House is Buon Apetito, an Italian restaurant in Wolsingham. Happy Hour takes place Monday – Friday between 12 noon and 2pm and again from 5pm – 6pm, and Saturdays at 12 noon – get selected pasta and pizzas for a paltry £5.95. That’s value for money in anybody’s book.
The Knitsley Farm Shop café/restaurant is fast gaining a reputation for high quality, freshly prepared food, served in a homely setting. There is a fantastic menu selection with daily/seasonal specials, including an award-winning breakfast comprising a celebration of the farm’s home-produced products including free range eggs, home-made sausage, black pudding and bacon. The Sunday roast lunch is immensely popular, with its selection of five roast meats and unique individual gravies. The selection in the cafe ranges from simple, yet tasty sandwiches to a three-course meal with all the food being home produced.