Staycation Vs Vacation

The ultimate question every family asks every single year… staycation or vacation?

With Christmas over and everyone in the midst of credit card debt, cutbacks and lifestyle changes are happening everywhere! Sometimes a staycation, especially in the countryside, can be more enjoyable than a vacation.. so we’re taking a look at the pro’s and con’s of staycations to help you decide.


1 – You save money Staycations are a massive money saver, there’s no worries about flights, hotel rooms and whether to go all-inclusive or half board. There’s no ridiculous prices beach sun beds, ‘bottomless’ cocktails or excursions to think about either.

2 – Less time travelling more time vacationing! The good thing about staycations is you don’t have to travel for hours (home to the airport, time spent on the plane, and then transfers) with staycations you can literally get up and go! 

3 – You’re giving back to the UK economy When choosing to staycation, you’re automatically putting money back into the UK economy and also helping local businesses! Win Win! 


1 – The weather One thing we can never control is the weather! England is notorious for freezing, damp months, so organising a staycation during unreliable Spring/Summer sometimes is a stab in the dark!

2  – Escaping from the daily grind. Being in the same country is less of a disconnect from the real world life.  But put an ocean or a few continents in between of you and your inbox it certainly helps with relaxing.

3 – No Culture Vulture!  Staying at home means the culture shift you get from visiting another time zone doesn’t really happen.

Top 10 things to do whilst staying in Allenheads

Whilst staying in Allenheads Lodge there’s plenty to do in the surrounding areas, here’s our top 10 must do’s when staying at Allenheads!

Number One – Visit Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrians Wall

Situated just 40 minutes away from Allenheads Lodge, Hadrian’s Wall is a must visit. Hadrian’s Wall was the North-West frontier of the Roman Empire for nearly 300 years, and at 73 miles long it marches across Northern Britain from Sea to Sea.  Made a World Heritage Site in 1987, Hadrian’s Wall makes an excellent visit where you can explore ruined forts, museums and even a Roman Town!

Number Two – Hexham Town and Market

Hexham Market

Voted England’s favourite market town and situated less than half an hour from Allenheads Lodge, Hexham’s popular weekly market is a must visit! Offering everything from locally baked goods to handmade gift, you’re sure to find something! The market runs every Tuesday from 9am-4pm in Hexham Town Centre.

There’s also the twice monthly Farmers Market offering locally produced ingredients, meat and vegetables. The Farmers Market takes place on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

Number Three – Killhope Lead Mine


If you’re looking for somewhere different to go for a day out, take the family to Killhope Lead Mining Museum, an industrial museum near the village of Cowshill. Located just a 12 minute drive from Allenheads, Killhope Museum allows you to explore the dark underground world of a lead miner, and experience life as a washer boy! There’s also breath-taking scenery and lots of wildlife, plus there’s a café offering home baked goods!

Currently closed for winter, Killhope Lead Mine will reopen on 1st April 2019.

Number Four – Allendale Pub Crawl

Allendale Village is just a 15 minute bus ride away, and is a town packed full of cosy pubs, making it the perfect location for a pub crawl. Make sure you visit The Allendale Inn, The Kings Head and The Golden Lion, all cosy pubs that are perfect for a pint by the roaring fire!

Number Five – Weardale

If you’re wanting to take in the scenery on a long walk whilst staying at Allenheads Lodge, Weardale is a must visit! Just 20 minutes away from Allenheads, the dale or valley of Weardale is situated on the east side of the Pennines in County Durham.

Large parts of Weardale fall within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – the second largest in England and Wales. Surrounded by high fells and heather grouse moors, Weardale is the perfect countryside escape.


Number Six – High Force

One of the most spectacular waterfalls in England, High Force is a fantastic day out for all the family. Situated on the River Tees, High Force is within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and European Geopark. Leading up to the waterfall is a peaceful and pretty woodland walk, ideal if you want to tire the dog, or the kids out!

High Force is open daily 10am-5pm (4pm in Winter), and has a car park and toilets. Admission to High Force is £1.50 (adults 16+) and 50p (children 5-15)

Number Seven – The Lake District

Just an hours drive away from Allenheads Lodge is England’s largest National Park, The Lake District. Home to areas such as Keswick and Windermere which make for fantastic visiting, The Lake District is also home to Scafell Pike – its highest mountain, and Wastwater – its deepest lake. The World of Beatrix Potter is in Windermere, and there’s also Lake Cruises on Windermere lake. Keswick is home to the Pencil museum, which is great for kids!

Number Eight – Eden Valley

What some would describe as a hidden little secret, The Eden Valley lays within the Pennines and the Lake District and is a landscape of meadows and lush green countryside, offering the perfect choice of destination for a peaceful walk. Featured on Channel 5 and ITV1, Eden Valley has been tipped one of the best walks with a view and is well worth a visit.

Number Nine – Kielder

A little further away coming in at a one hour and 30 minute drives lies the beautiful Kielder Water and Forest Park. Perfect for all the family, Kielder offers nature on a huge scale! Kielder is home to the biggest man-made lake in Northern Europe and the largest working forest in England. Start at one of the three visitor centres and spend a day discovering what Kielder has to offer.  Plus, you can book on to one of the special Kielder Observatory night events and gaze at the stars!

Number Ten – Alston Town  

The highest market town in England, Alston is nestled away in the Pennine landscape laying within the Eden district of Cumbria. Cobbled streets and distinctive stone buildings that date back to the 17th century make Alston a beautiful town to visit. A busy town with local, cosy pubs, Alston has a great reputation for making delicious local specialities such as Cumberland Mustard and Alston Cheese!


Christmas in the Countryside

If you’re dreaming of getting away from the hustle and bustle of Christmas, there’s nothing better than packing up and heading out into the Countryside. Allenheads is a tranquil village in Northumberland, situated in the Pennines to the North of Weardale.

Village traditions are in full swing, with mulled wine and mince pies in the pub, to the Christmas markets and even the carol singers.

Allenheads is the perfect destination for a Christmas getaway, especially if snow is forecast. Situated in a remote area surrounded by fields and hills, it’s the perfect place for sledging away the days and getting the whole family involved in building snowman’s.

Once Christmas day is over and you’ve ate your body weight and more in turkey, what better way to spend Boxing Day than with a long country walk. A walk in Allenheads countryside will perk you up again, ready for more mulled wine and eggnog.

With Allenheads Lodge catering for anywhere between 2 and 24 guests, you can bring your nearest and dearest or your full family and friends for a full festive party!

Barrel crawl crawling challenge

Outdoor Residential Trips

Allenheads Lodge Residential Trips

Situated within 45 miles of all the major cities in the North East and Cumbria, Allenheads lodge is the ideal location for school and college residential courses.  Our approach is different to most, we have less beds and less people each day which means your instructors will get to know the group to a much better level, you will have a dedicated lead instructor for the whole week.    In terms of quality, our team is loaded with dedicated outdoor practitioners whose passion and drive comes through in all that they do.  For you and your group it means you get best possible service and the most out of your time with us.   We offer options for full board or self-catered, the choice is yours. We also build activity packages around your needs and expectations, some people opt for an off the shelf option, others create their own unique programme, either way we have the staff and equipment to make it all work and for the young people to get a huge amount from their time with us.

The lodge is owned and operated by Springboard, a charity based across the North East. Springboard aims to support the development of sustainable communities, where people have the skills they need for life and work.  We are well established in education and were awarded ‘Good’ at our last Ofsted.  We hold the Matrix award for information, advice and guidance and we are Investors in People.  The work Springboard carries out began over 40 years ago and it continues now in all the locations we operate in.  The lodge is part and parcel of the offer to our own internal learners where everyone on our courses has the opportunity to visit as part us as part of their chosen course.

How does a typical week work?

Prior to arrival we set out what we would like to achieve during the time at the lodge as well as any particular activity requests.

Outline Plan

Day One

Noon- Arrival, introductions and allocation of rooms.

12.30- Lunch

1pm- Team challenges in the Lodge grounds.

5pm- Tea

6.30pm- Night Walk around the forest in Allenheads

8.15pm- Discuss Day two.

8.30pm-free time and supper.

Day Two

8am- Breakfast

9am-Activity brief and leave for activity

9.30am-Canoeing at Tyne Green Hexham

12pm- Lunch on the river with some shelter building

1.30pm- Rock Climbing near Hadrians Wall

7pm-Debreif and discussion about following day.

7.15pm- Tea

8pm- Free time

Day Three

8am- Breakfast

9am- Gorge Walking, gear on and head to venue

9.30am- Gorge Walking

12pm-Return Lodge and change

1.30pm- Archery and Mountain Biking

5pm-Debrief and tea.

6pm-Free evening

Day Four

8am- Breakfast

9.30am-Allenheads Challenge

11am- Final debrief, pack up and depart.

What are the costs?

Depending on the programme costs can be quite variable and can be adjusted up and down depending on a few things.  The outline programme above for 16 young people and 2 staff costs £2400 plus VAT.  This includes all meals, specialist equipment and accommodation.  Costs can be adjusted up and down, we can provide transport and full overnight support at an additional costs.  Likewise to reduce the costs we can remove some catering options, offer less activities or look at the calendar and utilise out of season dates.  We also run day activities from the lodge which is a great way of getting away from the learners normal day and a fraction of the cost of a few days away.

If you would like to know more about any of the courses we have at Allenheads Lodge you can contact us on

Springboard runs a variety of courses across the region, 16-19 year old study programme training, adult vocational works training courses as well as a range of apprenticeships.

Front of view of the stone lodge

Coast to Coast Cycle Route-C2C

The Original Long Distance Cycle Challenge in the North

The Coast to Coast (C2C) cycle route is one of the best and longest established routes in the UK.  The most popular option for most riders is to complete it in three days and 2 nights.  If  you are a super keen cyclist one day is actually possible but most opt for a more leisurely pace.  Logistics can be a challenge but there are a variety of options: Self supported trips with laden bikes using panniers.  Use a cycle tour company like Sherpa Van, they offer a luggage transfer service so that you can focus on enjoying the ride instead of lugging all your gear around.  Allenhead’s Lodge has a 14 bike trailer as well as a fleet of modern comfortable buses, if you require transport to your starting point we can help.

The C2C Bike Route- The original and best cycle challenge in England

Starting in Cumbria heading through the beautiful Lake District National Park the route climbs up and down mountain passes and through quirky little villages.  People tend to stay in Keswick, Threlkeld or Penrith on the first night.  Depending on what you like to do in an evening there is accommodation to suit everyone, from relative budget options to more luxurious.

The second day is arguably the most challenging in terms of terrain, starting quite low in altitude and climbing up and down the North Pennines is challenging with Hartside pass being a highlight.  The climb up out of the old lead mining village of Garrigill is also pretty epic. The good thing about Garrigill is there is brilliant pub  just before the climb where you can grab some food or drink to give you the energy to get up the hill.  On the second night its best to make the third days riding as easy as possible, so making as much progress towards the North Sea is paramount.  The best location is Allenheads, literally on the route of the coast to coast with no detours needed.  Allenheads is ideally located at the top of the North Pennines with only 2 climbs left for the third days riding.  Our lodge is located in Allenheads with access to the local pub, café and heritage centre.  We can provide bed only or bed and breakfast with all bedding provided and our lodge has secure bike storage inside our stores.  It’s ideal for big groups and has a communal area for the evening too.  The local pub is a typical local village pub with a good fun welcoming atmosphere and is called the Alleneheads Inn, if you are staying in Allenheads booking for food is essential.  If you arrive in the daytime the Hemmel Cafe is an excellent spot for a coffee and some lunch.

The third day is all downhill, well pretty much! It’s 47 miles from Allenheads to Sunderland and 49 miles from Allenheads to Tynemouth.  There are lots of stops on the way for food or we can provide you with a packed lunch for your journey, totally up to you.

Our lodge is available to book online on the booking system, for big groups get in touch and we may be able to offer you a group booking discount.

The lodge booking page can be found here.

We are GO!

18th century stone built lodge.
18th century stone built lodge.

After some successful trials we have a sparkling new website to promote all of the good things that happen up at Allenheads lodge at the top of the Allen Valleys. Allenheads lodge is in the heart of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is  one of the most rugged and remote areas in the North.

The lodge has stood the test of time, originally a Methodist Church, it was converted into a bunkhouse 40 years ago by the YHA and was since acquired by the charity Springboard Sunderland Trust around 30 years ago and it remains a key part of the work that Springboard carries out across the North East.  A basic history of the lodge can be found here.

Coast to Coast Cycle Route

More recently the lodge has become home to a huge number of cyclists completing the coast to coast cycle route, starting in Whitehaven or Workington and finishing up in Sunderland or Tynemouth.  The centre has 24 beds and we can offer breakfast and packed lunch too.  Also in the village are two brilliant places to eat and drink, for food booking is essential.  The Hemmel is a cracking cafe full of character and charm with a large warm log burner too.  Amanda and Peter who own the cafe will create some culinary delights for you and your team but please book in advance as they are only open in the evening when pre-booked.  The Hemmel can be contacted here.  The Allenheads Inn close by completes the package with a range of real ales, spirits and wines. The random items hanging from the ceiling keeps things interesting and trying to figure out what they are is fun too.  Anne and Phil offer a very warm welcome and are very good fun.  To contact the Allenheads Inn head to their website here.

Adventure Residentials

The core work of Springboard to support the development of sustainable communities, where people have the skills needed for work and life.  Springboard operates across the North East and Allenheads Lodge offers a unique opportunity for young people to have a residential experience which includes a huge range of life skills, experiential learning and adventurous activities.  Our most popular activities are ghyll scrambling, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing and improvised rafting.  We are the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service delivery partner for their residentials as part of their Princes Trust Team Programme. The Team programme is a 12 week course that is tailored to each persons needs, it includes a range of elements and includes work experience, an adventure residential, a community project, team building and a fund raising activity.   Springboard also run the Team Programme from Springboard South Tyneside.

A small group getting to grips with the basics.
A small group getting to grips with the basics.

National Cyclo Cross Championships; A Review

Last weekend, Hetton Lyons Country Park fell host to the National Cyclo Cross Championships. Springboard were delighted, and very proud to be involved in supporting such a successful national event within the park, and the feedback we’ve had from spectators both in person and on social from the event has been fantastic.

The event has been named as being ‘World Class Event Standard’ and has encouraged a lot of national cyclists and spectators to come to the park, amongst these where elite champions who gave positive comments about the park, and the standard of the course.

The Park is used throughout the year by Hetton Hawks for training, and here at Springboard, we welcome use of the park with community access year round, and shall continue to support and encourage sporting events offering to incorporate Springboard Adventure training facilities in the future to all local sportsmen and women in the local area, Springboard will always support and encourage such events in any way we can.

Mike Charlton, chairman of Hetton Hawks said; “Most of all I am proud. Proud of the event we delivered as a team, proud of the entire Hetton Hawks club and proud of the way so many people involved in North East Cycling put their hands up and volunteered to make it happen.

It was the Hetton team that won the bid, but it wasn’t just a Hetton team that delivered. It was a much wider team made up of the skills, energy and enthusiasm of the whole of the North East.

Our aim was to deliver an event that did the jersey proud which you all enjoyed, the feedback from the commissaires last night was that together we delivered an event that was world-class.”

Our CEO, David Barker MBE MBA helped to hand out some of the medals on the Saturday.

You can find more images of the weekends event over on Hetton Hawks Facebook page.