In the early 17th century, long, long before nearby Kielder Water and Kielder Forest were created, agricultural workers drank at a beer-house in Stannersburn. This ivy-clad country inn is that beer-house, now finding itself where the Northumberland National Park meets the Border Forest Park, and surrounded by verdant valleys, high moors and tranquil woodlands. It’s well positioned too for cycle tracks, a sculpture trail, an observatory, endless walks and wildlife watching, including red squirrels. What you see today is what Walter, Irene and Robin Kershaw have achieved since they acquired it, then rather run down, over 32 years ago. Most spaces in the two bars have been filled with historic Northumberland memorabilia, and on the exposed stone walls that support the blackened beams are photos of yesteryear’s locals working at forgotten trades like blacksmithing and coalmining. In winter, log fires cast flickering shadows across the furniture. The restaurant, with pale mushroom-coloured walls and furnished in medium oak, looks out over the countryside; this is where to sit down and choose from the daily-changing traditional British menu, which makes the most of what Northumbria has to offer. Sweet marinated herrings make a tasty starter, to be followed perhaps by fresh fish of the day from North Shields Fish Quay; or a hearty home-made game and mushroom pie. Excellent beers from Wylam Brewery and Timothy Taylor may cloud the mind, but not the dark night skies, which make the area a mecca for astronomers. There is a tranquil stream-side garden.