On a recent trip up north, we were taken to a “very spooky church” – words of six year nephew, who shares a liking of atmospheric – OK, *spooky* – places with me. Located on the summit of Grey Mare Hill, just off the A68 between Riding Mill & Castleside, stands the now deserted St Andrew’s Church. The original medieval church has long gone, but on its site, is the church, constructed in 1769. It was extensively restored in 1892 and all that remains internally of the 18th century church are the diagonal ribs across the ceiling.
The building has been taken over by The Churches Conservation Trust – it is no longer used for services, but is kept unlocked for visitors. However, it’s in such a remote location that, judging by the visitors’ book, it’s a well-kept secret.
The graveyard, which surrounds the church, is eerie. There are gravestones dating back to the 1700s, weathered and worn. Some are elaborate, like the mausoleum built by Humphrey Hopper in 1752. Some are simple. All are poignant, especially if you visit on a day, when there is no-one else around. (Save for a very excited six year old!)
If you are ever in this area of north Durham/Northumberland, we’d also recommend the following places, which are all within approximately a 10 mile radius – (the beautiful cities of Durham and Newcastle go without saying!) – The Derwent Reservoir for walking and then Slaley Hall (for a round of golf if that’s your thing), or for an amazing meal after that walk, in stunning surroundings. Blanchland is a nearby picturesque village, again perfect for walking, and you’ll also find the reputedly haunted – but definitely beautiful – Lord Crewe Arms.
If you’re not familiar with this very beautiful part of the country, can we suggest you get onto the A1, pronto? You will love it. We promise!