Set at very heart of more than 2000 years of history, Haltwhistle is the geographical Centre of Britain (mid-point of the longest line of longitude that can be drawn through Britain with its centre on land) and it’s at the centre of everything that keeps visitors returning to England’s most dramatic countryside year after year. The name Haltwhistle, earlier Hautwysel, is believed to be derived from its location, signifying either ‘The high hill by two rivers’ or ‘The watch on high’. In either case this would have much to do with the oval-shaped mount called Castle Hill, which was fortified from ancient times by an earthwork and castle, parts of which remained until the mid-sixties.
Nestling beside the River South Tyne, Haltwhistle is the closest town to the stunning central section of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage site and the Northumberland National Park, both of which are only about 2 miles (3kms) away. As a base to explore the magnificent surrounding area, Haltwhistle couldn’t be better positioned. Within one hour’s drive are Carlisle, Gretna & South West Scotland to the west, Kielder Water, Redesdale and the English & Scottish Borders to the north, and the historical attractions of the Northumbria Coast and the city of Newcastle to the east. To the south are the wonderful open spaces of The Northern Pennines, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The 13th century Church of the Holy Cross stands at the back of the Market Square. This is the oldest building in Haltwhistle and one of only a few early 13th century churches still functioning as a working church in England. The oldest part of the Church is the chancel erected in the 12th century. Various features of interest include a 6th century Water Stoup and a tomb of the crusader Thomas de Blenkinsopp who died in 1388. Much of the Church was decorated by the Pre-Raphaelites, including excellent stained glass windows by William Morris and Burne-Jones and the Chancel ceiling which was decorated by Burne-Jones. Close by is the Centre of Britain Hotel with its Pele Tower incorporated into the building. Follow the Reiver Trail around the town and you will see five other Bastle Houses (defensible houses) all of which date back to the town’s Reiving past.