The Ford and Etal villages, which have been home to the Joicey family for over a century, lie on the Scottish Border in Northumberland.
A community is thought to have existed in the area of the Ford and Etal villages since the Bronze Age. However, there is little record of the exact nature of this community until the Middle Ages. In the 14th century the estate was owned by the Manners family in Ford and the Heron family in Etal, who were bitter rivals and frequently attacked each other’s castles. Ford and Etal also played a role in the rivalry and battles between England and Scotland, being in a crucial position on the borders. It was the site of the Battle of Flodden between the two countries in 1513.
However, by the 19th century, relations became peaceful and Ford and Etal thrived thanks to agriculture and other rural industries such as forestry. Then in 1907, the 1st Baron Joicey, who owned coal mines in Northumberland, bought Ford Estate, and the following year bought Etal as well, finally uniting these two estates.
The large estate that covers both of these villages has a range of sights, activities, places to stay, shop and eat.
There is so much to do that you can plan your visit according to your personal interests, whether it be fishing and canoeing on the River Till or visiting the historic colliery and pre-Raphaelite murals by Louisa Waterford in Lady Waterford Hall. There is something for everyone here, with plenty of nature, sports, history and culture to satisfy all interests.
A good place to start is the Heatherslaw Visitor Centre, where you can find out about the villages. It is also possible to hire bikes from here. Ford and Etal is on the Sustrans Pennine Cycleway through the grounds of the estate and surrounding countryside. If cycling is not for you, there are plenty of walking routes, which can be found at the visitor centre, and a heritage trail that will take you through Stone Age and medieval landmarks in the Cheviot Hills.
Ford and Etal is also the perfect place to observe nature, with a wide range of bird life in both the moorland and the Ford Moss Nature Reserve. The reserve itself is home to plenty of interesting flora and fauna, such as butterflies, lizards and kestrels. For animal lovers, the Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre lies in between Ford and Etal villages, where visitors can get close to some rare breeds of horse and other animals and find out about the history of working horses in the visitor centre.
Ford and Etal is steeped in history, with a range of historic buildings to see. These include the Duddo Standing Stones, the Northumberland equivalent of Stonehenge, the traditional Heatherslaw Mill and the remains of Ford Moss Colliery.
With there being so much to do on the estate and in the surrounding areas, you may wish to make your trip to Ford and Etal an overnight stay. There is a range of accommodation available nearby, including bed and breakfast and camping facilities. There are also numerous places to eat and drink, with two pubs and five cafes in the area, serving local specialities.