Teeing off in the golfer's paradise of the north

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Lining up a left-handed seven iron on the Hunting course's 18th fairway, I couldn't help but feel privileged playing this wonderful European Tour venue.

With the spectacular view of Slaley Hall dominating the skyline, I could have been forgiven for taking my eye off the ball and slicing my shot, as it was so beautiful.

A bird's-eye view of beautiful Slaley Hall. Image: Slaley Hall.

A bird's-eye view of beautiful Slaley Hall. Image: Slaley Hall.

What about the various shanks and hooks over the previous 38 holes?, I ask myself, but I've no excuse for those.

Truthfully though, it doesn't matter, as this place is all about getting away and spending some quality downtime in the stunning Northumberland countryside.

It took Dad and I nearly three hours to get there, but the picture-perfect drive up from Nottinghamshire to the top edge of the North Pennines was totally worth it.

Check-in wasn't until 3pm, but we arrived early to play our first round on the Priestman course. A competition was being played on the Hunting, renowned as 'The Augusta of the North’, so that would wait until the following day.

The 4th hole on the Priestman course. Image: Kevin Murray.

The 4th hole on the Priestman course. Image: Kevin Murray.

With a 1pm October tee-off time, we knew we'd do well to get round 18 holes of the long and hilly Priestman, but as it wasn't busy it seemed the perfect time to play as we felt like we had the course to ourselves.

A few days of heavy rain made the ground a little soggy which presented more of a challenge, but as we drove, hit and chipped our way away round the course we soon forgot about the negatives as the panoramic views of Northumberland were a joy to behold.

It was a physically-testing game and I knew I'd sleep well, but the overriding feeling after traipsing more than seven miles with a trolley across the countryside was hunger.

Our stylish twin room was on the ground floor not far from reception and after a much-needed caffeine-boost and shower we headed to the bar for a pre-dinner pint.

Mr Kennedy's Brasserie. Image: Slaley Hall.

Mr Kennedy's Brasserie. Image: Slaley Hall.

Walking through the corridors at four-star Slaley Hall certainly turns the head as there are many impressive dining rooms and spacious lounges dotted around, all oozing elegance and comfort.

The settees in Tommy Craig's bar are inviting, but we didn't have long to sit back as a mouth-watering three-course meal in Mr Kennedy's Brasserie was calling.

There was a bustling, yet relaxed, atmosphere in the restaurant, which during the day showcases some of the finest rural views across the terrace.

A three-course set menu is offered at a reasonable £28 per head, or there is the a la carte option with a selection of light bites, small plates, salads, grills and larger dishes. My slow-cooked belly pork with cauliflower cheese puree, followed by a delicious salted caramel 'canele', definitely hit the spot.

Lots of water to avoid on the 6th hole on the Hunting course. Image: Kevin Murray.

Lots of water to avoid on the 6th hole on the Hunting course. Image: Kevin Murray.

After a good night's sleep we returned to Mr Kennedy's for an early buffet breakfast, fuelling up with a full English for an eagerly-awaited round on the Hunting.

The golf was much better this time and the ground slightly drier, which certainly helped, but as those who regularly play this fascinating game would tell you, it makes a big difference when you get good distance on your tee shots.

It's worth taking your camera out as there are some incredible views of the hall, as well as some of the most picturesque golf holes you will come across.

Beware of the numerous hidden brooks and ditches though because you may need a few spare balls if you're not careful.

To make life easier, buggies and electric trolleys are available for hire and there is also a large putting green, chipping area and covered driving range for those wanting to brush up on their skills.

For us, there was just time for a post-round coffee in the aptly-named Claret Jug restaurant before the long drive home. Never mind how you play, just enjoy every second of the experience as this resort really is a golfer's paradise.

Slaley Hall's delicious chicken burger. Image: Slaley Hall.

Slaley Hall's delicious chicken burger. Image: Slaley Hall.

FACTFILE

One night golf breaks from £99

Address: Coal Rd, Hexham NE47 0BX

Website: https://www.slaleyhallhotel.com

Tel: 01434 673350

The picturesque long fairway on the Hunting's 9th hole. Image: Kevin Murray.

The picturesque long fairway on the Hunting's 9th hole. Image: Kevin Murray.

One of the plush bedrooms at Slaley Hall. Image: Slaley Hall.

One of the plush bedrooms at Slaley Hall. Image: Slaley Hall.

A drive up the Hunting's 18th with Slaley Hall in the background. Image: Kevin Murray.

A drive up the Hunting's 18th with Slaley Hall in the background. Image: Kevin Murray.