With a history dating back to 1938, one of Northumberland’s most historic camps was originally built to get children breathing fresh air by taking them out of polluted industrial towns and cities, and will now once again encourage people to venture out into the great outdoors.
Having just purchased Brown Rigg holiday accommodation in Bellingham, the new owners, Alastair and Sue Hunter will be encouraging visitors to the area by capitalising on both the facilities and infrastructure of Brown Rigg. The Hunters have swapped a fast paced lifestyle, with Alastair working in IT, for a rural life, running a business the whole family can be involved with.
Brown Rigg is well located to attract holidaymakers, situated as it is in both the Northumberland National Park and International Dark Sky Park. Covering an area of 24 acres, there is great potential for expansion and development within both the site and the local area.
Brown Rigg Camp School was first built by the National Camps Corporation, but it was never opened by them as a result of the start of the Second World War, when it was instead used as a hostel for evacuees. It was taken over by Northumberland County Council after the war and operated as a Boarding School.
Following a period as a riding school, Brownrigg has most recently been utilised as tourist accommodation, offering four lodges as self-catering accommodation in 24 acres of grounds with a small river running through. The lodges are pet friendly and have 3-bedrooms that sleep up to 6 people. They are popular with families, special interest groups, cyclists and walkers. Within the site there is a very large function room, together with the former school assembly hall with a stage, which is also used as a meeting and dining room, and games room by the large family groups who regularly attend.
The Hunters have plans for the future to recruit a number of staff from within the community. Combined with the opening of a café and small shop, selling essentials for their guests, they also propose to install some glamping units, to offer a wide range of accommodation, all of which will attract more visitors, and have a positive impact on the local economy. Their main aim is to restore Brown Rigg and bring much of it back to life, Alastair and Sue and their two boys, Jacob and Lewis are delighted with their new family business venture, as Sue explains here:
“Alastair previously worked in IT and he was regularly away from home, we really wanted a lifestyle change, something we could all be part of, Brown Rigg is just perfect.
“We already have plans in place to sympathetically develop and improve the current site. With its rural location and fabulous scenery, our focus is firmly set on working closely with local businesses, and we are already in discussion with other local providers to use Brown Rigg as a venue for residential educational courses.”
Barclays assisted with funding for the purchase of the site, and Business Manager Jane Brown said: “It’s always great to see customers fulfilling their dreams to become self- employed as well as investing in the local economy, and creating jobs. Alastair and Sue have some great ideas to take the business to the next level and we look forward to supporting them on their journey at Brown Rigg.”
Selling agent, Andrew Birnie of Christie & Co. added: “We wish the new owners the very best of luck in the future expansion and development of this unique business, and property, which attracted interest from a range of buyers for a range of potential uses during the marketing process.”
Planning ahead, they will also be up-dating the four lodges, with new décor, dishwashers, furniture and fittings. With a view to attracting more walkers and cyclists they also plan to develop an empty building as a bunk house that can accommodate individuals and groups of all sizes.
Brown Rigg is located close to Kielder and Hadrian’s Wall, and benefits from excellent cycling and walking routes such as:
- The Pennine Way
- The Pennine Cycleway (National cycle route 68)
- The Reivers Route (National Cycle Route 10)
- The Sandstone Way Trail.