The parish of Otterburn is at the heart of Redesdale, a remote Northumbrian upland valley steeped in history and blessed with natural beauty.

The River Rede at Elishaw (Emma Anderson)

The Percy Cross stands in the midst of a small plantation, a mile north of the village. Near this peaceful spot, on an August evening in 1388, an English army of 8,000 men followed Sir Henry Percy into battle against the Scots, led by the Earl of Douglas.

The battle of Otterburn ended in an English rout. Douglas was killed, Percy captured and over a thousand of the English were taken, left dead on the field or slain as they fled. The dead were carried to Elsdon church, three miles from Otterburn, where they were buried.

Today, the village is noted for its proximity to one of the UK’s largest army training ranges; 60,000 acres where the artillery only stops for lambing and Christmas.

But amongst the surrounding wild moors and hills the sound most likely to fall to the ear is the haunting call of the curlew. Red squirrels and even the otters which gave the village its name can be spotted if you are lucky.  

Upper Redesdale from Rupert's Wood (Emma Anderson)

It is over thirty years since the looms stopped at Otterburn Mill but the history of weaving and wool milling can be followed in its museum. The famous expression ‘to be on tenter hooks’ came from the textile trade. The woven cloth, once washed, was dried and stretched on tenter frames and the mill boasts the last set of these in Europe.

Otterburns were heavy rugs which kept people warm when travelling on stage coaches and trains and were once given as accessories with Rolls Royce cars. Otterburn tweeds were worn by members of the Royal family for their hunting, shooting and fishing clothing. On the birth of the Princess Elizabeth in 1926, Buckingham Palace asked the mill to manufacture a small rug for the Royal pram. This was the start of the famous Otterburn pram rug which is still made today.

Visitor attractions include a café, a busy sales outlet and information centre at Otterburn Mill. Otterburn Festival, a country fair with a multitude of rural attractions, is held at the Mill in mid-July. The village has a hotel, a greengrocer and a shop selling groceries, newspapers, local produce, take-away food and licenced goods. Bed & breakfast accommodation is offered at a number of locations in and around the village.


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