Causeway House

Bardon Mill, Northumberland

Overview

Ideally placed to explore Hadrian’s Wall, this 18th-century farmhouse is the only house in Northumberland still thatched in heather. Known locally as 'black thack', it was available in adundant supply, but was seldom used once slate became a cheap alternative in the 19th century.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • Bath with ShowerBath with Shower
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • Waitrose DeliveryWaitrose Delivery

Beds 1 Twin, 1 Double

Sleeps
2 +2
3 nights
£396 equivalent to £33.00 per person, per night

Black thack: the lost craft of heather thatching

This is the only house in Northumberland still thatched in heather. Known locally as black thack, it was of course available in abundant supply, but was seldom used once slate became a cheap alternative. It survived here because the farm house, built in 1770 and never much altered, was abandoned decades ago. Used as a store, its thatch was preserved beneath corrugated iron. Lorry loads of heather went into its repair, leaving a cover which is thinner and tougher than conventional thatch. Stuffed into holes in the thatch we found two dresses, of about 1890, a child’s shoe, an iron key and a pewter spoon – probably carefully placed as good luck charms.

Inside, the original arrangement of living-room on one side of the cross-wall and the byre for the animals on the other, with loft or granary above, also survives. This is an arrangement found in early farmhouses the length and breadth of Britain. Here, there were stalls for twelve cattle, to share their warmth with the humans in the winter and on occasion perhaps to protect them from the cattle raids of the reevers. The loft is now a warm-weather bedroom, where you can sleep under the knotted tent-like thatch in a fully canopied bed. The bedroom can get quite chilly in the winter, so we recommend only using the space during the summer months.

History all around, traces of the Roman Empire, and more

The farm, which we own, stands in the rolling fertile land behind Hadrian’s Wall. Past the front runs a Roman road, with the stump of a Roman milestone nearby, which gives visitor access within a few hundred yards to the fort and settlement of Vindolanda. Indeed few houses in Britain can have so many traces of Rome around them, many within walking distance. Head west by car, and you come to the solid and interesting town of Carlisle. East lie Corbridge, Durham and Lindisfarne, rich sites for early Christianity.

‘Arrived at this lovely house, pitch black, hadn’t a clue what we'd be waking up to. Daylight… greeted by a short-eared owl sitting on the fence post.’

From the logbook

Floor Plan

Map & local info

Causeway House sits on the edge of the Northumberland National Park, which is full of places to visit, cycle routes and walks, including part of the Hadrian’s Wall Path. The surrounding area is rich with Roman history. The Roman road in front of the house runs down to the Roman Fort and settlement of Vindolanda. The ancient ruins of Housestead's Roman Fort are less than 10 minutes away from Bardon Mill by car, too.

The market town of Hexham is about a 20 minute drive away, where you can visit the beautiful Hexham Abbey, home to the annual Festival of Music and Arts.

The open air Beamish Living Museum of the North, about an hour by car, provides truly fascinating insight into life in this area of the country during different periods of history. This is a wonderful place to explore authentic historical settings and to learn about traditional skills. 

The city of Newcastle is just under an hours drive from Causeway House and is teeming with museums and galleries, including the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, the Hancock Museum, Seven Stories and the Laing Art Gallery. You can gain free entry to Seven Stories is free and a 50% discount on exhibitions at the Laing Art Gallery with a National Art Pass, which enables its members to enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic houses throughout the UK as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions.

The pass is presented by one of Landmark's partners, the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, which has been supporting museums and galleries for over 110 years by helping them to buy and display great works of art for everyone to enjoy. Income raised through the National Art Pass goes straight back into their charitable programme. Find more about it at artfund.org/national-art-pass.

For more information on things to do during your stay at Causeway House , please see our Pinterest page.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Clear directions
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Directly the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Bardon Mill – 1.5 miles
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes there are two car parking spaces adjacent to the property.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    The heating is provided by an air source heat pump. There is a gas fire.
    (Due to the thatched roof, the twin bedroom is harder to heat in winter).
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker and a microwave.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    No.
  • Does this Landmark have low headroom?

    Yes, there are low beams in the lounge and bedroom and the doorways to both bedrooms are low.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is an enclosed garden. There are public foothpaths which run close to the property boundary.
  • Is this a property for hardier visitors?

    Yes the twin bedroom is hard to heat and unsuitable for winter use.

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact webmaster@landmarktrust.org.uk.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • What time can I arrive and what time do I have to depart from the Landmark?

    Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there toilet rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.
History

Heather thatch once common in upland areas

Causeway House lies in the Northumberland National Park at the side of the road leading down to the Roman Fort of Vindolanda. It is a rare surviving example of a building thatched with heather, a feature once fairly common in upland areas and is now the only one left in Northumberland.

The house and its adjoining buildings were built in 1770, the date marked on the carved shield at the centre of the front door lintel. It was possibly built for the Thompsons of Tow House - it was common to put a husband and wife’s initials on their new house and this could be the T R.A in the plaque.

Aligned east-west, facing south, Causeway House comprises a two-storeyed main block, with, on the left, a byre and granary above, and a single-storeyed attached stable/loose box on the right. Its walls are constructed of neatly coursed sandstone, with the corners tied by alternating quoins, which project slightly from the wall face, as do the plain architraves of the doors and windows. The gabled roof has triangular sandstone blocks set like reversed crowsteps to form the verge. The roof pitch is steep at 50º, a common feature of thatched structures and necessary to ensure effective drainage.

The house itself was comprised of a ground floor kitchen/living room with a single front window providing the natural lighting downstairs. This is a tall 4-pane sash window set into an opening which has clearly been increased in size at some stage. Upstairs there was a chamber divided into two with one window for the landing and one for the bedroom.

Against the gable wall stands a kitchen range surrounded by a plain lintel and jambs. The range bears the date 1912 and was supplied by John Liddel and Sons of Haltwhistle. The oven, on the right, is set above the level of the fire which is a common feature on northern English ranges.

The upstairs chamber was divided into two rooms by a plank partition set up against the roof truss. Both rooms had planked wainscotting covered with wallpaper. To the right of the chimney breast was a built-in cupboard lined with sheets of the Newcastle Journal of 27th May 1947.

From the landing, a flap could be lowered over the stairwell thus allowing access to the granary via the simple plank door in the dividing wall. This room is lit by a single sash window and has a loading door in the west gable. There are three internally splayed slit vents in the rear wall. Surprisingly the foot of the principal roof truss sits directly above the window. The rafters are made from branches or roughly spit sections of tree trunk nailed onto the horizontal purlins. Some are full length reaching from wall to ridge, while in other places there are two levels of rafters, all set close together.

Underneath the granary is the byre, with a north-south through passage and stalling for 12 cattle. The concrete flooring is raised above the central walkway, down which runs a groove to drain urine out through the front door. Ventilation is again provided by slits in the walls. 

For a short history of Causeway House please click here.

To read the full history album for Causeway House please click here.

Restoration

Abandoned for over 20 years

When the Trust acquired Causeway House from Mr & Mrs Wanless in 1988 it had been abandoned as a house for over 20 years and was just used as a store. It had therefore survived with very little alteration, and its heather thatch roof was still preserved beneath a later corrugated iron cover. Although heather was always widely available, it was seldom used once slate became a cheap alternative in the 19th century.

 

 

One of the first jobs was to remove this old thatch, known locally as ‘Black Thack’. An unusual collection of items was discovered - a child’s clog shoe, an iron key, a pewter table spoon, an iron hook and four cotton dresses - working clothes of about 1890-1900. Several of these items may have been deposited as good luck charms.

To re-thatch the roof vast quantities of long-stemmed heather were required. The Forestry Commission offered a site that was intended for burning and planting, and an entire acre was stripped by using powered cutters as well as pulled in the traditional way. The heather was two feet long on average, and bound into ‘loggins’ and thence into ‘threaves’ (25 loggins), it totalled four large high-sided lorry loads.

Originally the closely-spaced roof timbers would have first been overlaid with hand dug ‘divots’, and so the modern equivalent - lawn turf, was used laid ‘green-side’ down to stop the drying soil falling out. The thatching, carried out by master thatcher John Warner, started at the eaves and progressed to the ridge in horizontal courses. Although the thatch at the eaves has no apparent thickness, it is actually up to two feet thick. Each course was fixed with modern thatching hooks securing an iron bar or ‘sway’ to hold the heather in place onto the rafters. Heather is a material which is laid ‘upside down’ compared to other materials in that the root end is placed on the inside against the turf.

The ridge, which needs the longest lengths of heather, was held in place with long hazel and willow spars used like giant hair-pins. After clipping the rough ends, it was finally dressed with a layer of turf, green side up, which is a traditional way of finishing Northumbrian roofs. Finally the thatch was given a protective layer of black mesh that at first was secured by spars positioned in the hollows that form on heather roofs. Unfortunately, this made the roof look like a giant buttoned sofa and so the spars were all moved to the ‘hills’. This looked much better and the result was a roof that lasted some 20 years. In 2008, this whole process was repeated, still using heather, but this time done by Stephen Letch who looks after several other Landmark thatched buildings in East Anglia. He specialises in long-straw thatching, which is a less commonly-used form of thatching these days, but not dissimilar to how a heather thatch roof is laid.

The various outhouses were removed, and working with Stewart Tod & Partners, our architects, a new single storey kitchen and bathroom block was added to the rear, with a lobby and door to outside, all under a handsome stone tiled roof. This meant that the original kitchen/living room could be used just as a sitting room. The chimney stack, which had had a brick top in 1988, was rebuilt in stone.

Upstairs the partition was removed to create a single large double bedroom boarded on the walls and ceiling, and by making a new doorway through to the granary at the head of the stairs, a twin bedroom was formed. The latter, though difficult to keep warm, allows you to sleep under the knotted tent-like thatch.

The Landmark Fund

Heather thatching at Causeway House

Heather thatch at Causeway House

Causeway House lies in the Northumberland National Park at the side of the road leading down to the Roman Fort of Vindolanda. It is the only house in Northumberland still thatched in heather, a feature once fairly common in upland areas. Heather thatch, known locally as ‘black thack’, provides a thinner and tougher covering than conventional thatch.

The main house was re-thatched in 2006, but at that time the goathouse, the little building attached to the main house, was left untouched. Thanks to supporters of the Landmark Fund, the goathouse roof has now also been re-thatched, with the work being completed in May 2014. 

Find out more about the Landmark Fund
Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.