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Travel: the lowdown . . . ON TEESDALE.

THINK of a countryside break easily accessible from Merseyside or Cheshire, and you'll usually think of either the Lake District or North Wales. But just a little bit further afield is the lovely and relatively undiscovered area of Teesdale, which offers spectacular scenery, cosy country pubs and plenty of history (visit and you'll be following in the footsteps of everyone from Oliver Cromwell to Charles Dick-ens). It's a tranquil place which does not suffer from massive numbers of visitors - which is one of its main attractions in itself.

Walks are peaceful and contemplative and represent a very real and rare opportunity to really get away from it all.

How to get there: Getting to Teesdale is easy if you're travelling by car, with access from the A1(M) at Scotch Corner, from the M6 at Penrith and Tebay.

A good run from Merseyside takes around two and a half hours - and it's a journey worth not rushing so you can enjoy your surroundings on the way.

Where to stay: The Rose and Crown hotel in Romaldkirk, near Barnard Castle (tel: 01833 650 213), is an absolute must.

At its heart is a wonderful old pub, which was built in 1733 and in recent times has won accolade after accolade, including being named as a former AA pub of the year. It's easy to see why as you can happily spend a few hours soaking up the atmosphere and warming yourself next to one of the crackling log fires.

It features a bistro and a restaurant, the entrance to which is also teeming with awards - and rightly so (see below). There are just 12 rooms at the hotel, and although the fabric of both it and the pub remains unchanged, owners Christopher and Alison Davy have lovingly renovated it to the highest specifications.

Each room features finishing touches such as a CD player and MoltonBrown toiletries add that something special.

All this and it is situated in a chocolate box village whose collection of pretty cottages and carefully tended greens mean it has not unreasonably been described as ``one of the prettiest in England''.

When to visit: Like many parts of the north of England, different seasons bring their different attractions. But unlike many other places, even in the summer Teesdale doesn't become unbearably busy. Food and drink: The Rose and Crown is worth a visit to dine wherever you happen to be staying. The restaurant boasts an imaginative menu which changes daily and reflects local produce which is in season. Puddings and bread are also baked daily. But that isn't the only culinary delight of the region and a number of traditional taverns and historic houses provide an enviable setting to enjoy local produce. in the evenings on dishes prepared using fresh local ingredients.

Getting around: If walking or cycling are what you're in Teesdale for, it's likely you'll be able to explore the countryside as soon as you set foot out of the door. And it is wonderful countryside. Teesdale is within the North Pennines area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and although there is an extensive network of foot baths and bridleways, it is all peaceful and quiets.

What to see: Spectacular countryside what most people visit the area for, but there are also more castles per mile in Teesdale than any other part of the country, plenty of stately homes and gardens, traditional farmers markets and beautiful architecture. Worth a visit is Raby Castle and its five acres of magnificent gardens which were first designed in the mid-1700s and still feature many of the original features. The castle itself is also impressive, particularly the Barons' Hall where 700 knights gathered in 1569 to plot the Rising of the North against Queen Elizabeth I.

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Teesdale has many historic castles
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Words:632
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