Knockburn Farm – The Secret to Happiness

Knockburn Farm – The Secret to Happiness

18th September 2023

There are many beautiful houses out there, but there are not many as beautiful as Knockburn Farm, and not many more that evoke such a strong sense of calm and inner peace as it does for Julia Papa, who has lived there with her family for eight years. “Knockburn has been a very spiritually calming place for me to live,” Julia tells us. “I moved here from Hertford and it has been magical from the first day. A big part of me will stay in this valley, in this community of people I’ve grown to love.”

Speaking to Julia about her home is like listening to a guru speak about mindfulness. There is a deep appreciation and respect, not only for the house, but for the land on which she has lived. “I am at one with the elements, low clouds, sunshine lighting up heather and swaying wild flowers, snow storms and the changing shades of the seasons. What greater spectacle does life have to offer?” Julia says, and we agree. There are plenty of reasons to give up city life, but none more clear or well defined than by Julia’s time here.

Hidden in the Allen Valley, Knockburn Farm is a beautifully renovated and tastefully restored stone-built four-bedroom, five-bathroom former bastle home. Believed to date back to the 17th Century, when Northumberland was a lawless land and livestock protected by the Scots and armed only with bows and arrows, this four-acre crown holds many gems- and is considerably a calmer and more peaceful place to live!

“You can hear nature without having to listen,” Julia says. “You see the most amazing wildlife without having to look, they come to you!” All around Knockburn are swooping swallows and lapwings, watchful red deer, racing hares, lounging rabbits, hovering owls and hurrying hedgehogs, you’d be forgiven for thinking you could be living in a wildlife park. But there is a careful serenity to their co-existence.

“We have an eco-friendly home, with our recently installed double glazed windows and spring-fed private water with filtration system, private drainage and biomass pellet boiler. We want to live in grace with the land, to leave as little trace as possible.” It’s to be commended then that Julia has cultivated a self-sufficient life that works, complimenting the land rather than taking away. Even the chickens are happy. “We have free-range hens that love where they live and want to stay!”

The chickens are not wrong. The second jewel in the Knockburn Farm crown is its positioning: Sinderhope is in the North Pennines, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and renowned for its abundance of endlessly twinkling stars blanketing the sky. Julia confides, “Our lives feel balanced. It is so tranquil and calming, and I am constantly grounded in this environment we’ve made our home. Coming home is restorative.” Isn’t that what we all crave? With the farm surrounded by open fields and set against a colourful back drop of varied pine woods, ferns, heather and lichen decorated dry stone walling, it evokes a true sense of English heritage that only rural living can give.

Because, for Julia at least, being part of a rural community has been her lifeblood. “Some of my fondest memories are of running with the Allendale striders across the dales, or the laughter and fun at the village ceilidhs. We have honestly lived the dream here. It’s just as easy to spend time alone in peaceful solitude, too. There is an all-encompassing aspect to life at Knockburn Farm where you can have it all.”

Indeed, with nature on your side, there is time to listen to your needs. There is space of the early morning to decide what new or well-loved endeavor will take up your day, or the solitude of early evening to consider all you have around you.

So does Knockburn Farm have it all? We think it does.

With a village life that is nearly as bustling as the city, Julia hasn’t felt like she’s missed out. Situated in an area that reflects diverse needs, it has all the immediate amenities one could need living rurally: a health care centre, chemist, primary school, fire station, library, a Methodist and Church of England, vets, community centre, Village Hall, Post Office, butchers, general store, co-op, beauty salon, and its very own Allendale brewery.

And what would countryside living be without a good pub? With several dog friendly establishments serving food, alongside an Indian restaurant, visiting street food vans and coffee shops, you might never miss urban life. Because compared to the hustle and bustle of city life, where screens dominate and the inner voice is quashed by the ever pressing-demands of modernity, Knockburn Farm presents a simple answer for anyone asking themselves a difficult question: Could I leave it all behind to have more space?

The answer is yes.

In addition to the incredible near four-acre setting, Knockburn Farm shares its third jewel, and something any budding equestrian would light up like a Christmas tree to behold. The facilities are simply outstanding; for a comprehensive yet manageable set up, you should look no further. The hugely impressive facilities include two large stables with rubber matting, power, lighting and enclosed access to fields. Two pony stables also have rubber matting and lighting, along with a wooden storage shed. The facilities themselves are incredibly flexible, with interchangeable sections in the kennel blocks offering an easy change of use.

“We recently constructed a forty by twenty metre manège,” Julia says. “We have a separate turnout arena opposite the larger two stables, and two small grass paddocks and five fields in total, with automatic feeding troughs and hardcore paths linking them; there is even lighting on the paths for the darker mornings and evenings. We considered everything for convenience of daily life.”

To own and look after horses is a passion, and for those looking for an equestrian lifestyle, there’s no doubt Knockburn Farm offers the ultimate treasure-trove. When asked what Julia’s favourite thing was about this aspect of her life, she replied, “Riding in such majestic landscapes is beyond idyllic. Nobody around, quiet roads and miles of open tracks to cover. Any negative energy you might have just recedes away before the paths end.”

That is exactly how Knockburn Farm feels; restorative, thoughtful, and considered. It isn’t just the external location of the farm that is impossible not to admire. The internals are bright and stylish, with many of the rooms enjoying dual-aspect light. It makes Knockburn Farm a far cry from your traditional working farm house.

The property boasts exposed stone walls and floors, original doors, wood panels and shutters, polished plaster, beams and solid wood flooring, replete with an enviable collection of hand-blown glass and unusual lights. It makes this light and spacious period gem a place where contemporary meets traditional in an idyllic location.

The layout is gracefully considered and planned with adaptability in mind. The house itself offers a multitude of living options for various circumstances. The large ground-floor footprint means for potential multi-generational living, all rooms are accessible. “The main house could be divided into three potential homes without making any alterations,” Julia says. “There are three separate entrances on the north, south and west sides, each with their own amenities to support independent but connected living. That’s what makes Knockburn so amazing, its ability to adapt to life’s changes.” Adaptability and no heavy building work? Yes please!

On the whole, the property boasts three kitchens (one currently used as a laundry room), five bathrooms (two on the ground floor), and four reception rooms. Our personal favourite is the deliciously cosy snug room, with one of four log burning stoves in the house, and a feel that is reminiscent of a ski chalet in the snowy mountains of France, except with remarkable views out over the garden and into the tree-covered hills beyond. “I think this must be the closest I will ever come to living in Canada or Norway!” Julia laughs.

As part of her home, Julia has created an income stream that supports life at Knockburn. The northern wing of the house, (The Glass House) is a lucrative five-star Airbnb, with floor to ceiling windows and timber framing, and it brings in a substantial income. “It’s a very easy way to earn extra income,” Julia says. So, what has it been like running a rental so close to home? “People come in holiday spirits, ready to relax, and I can choose how much I engage with them. I love having people come and stay, but I can still retain my own privacy. It’s also incredibly flexible; if I don’t want people here on weekends or certain weekdays, I can block dates out on the rental site, and just open up dates that suit me. It’s brilliant!”

It is obvious living at Knockburn has been a real love affair for the ages. The home oozes comfort and memories of family all together; sharing fondue in the hobbit hut and cocktails in the treehouse stationed in the garden, only to come out and find a blanket of sparkling snow on the ground reflecting the Christmas lights inside. Could anything be as pure as this? If future memories and more time spent in the present are what you’re searching here, you’ll find them in droves. If practicality and peace is what you’re looking for, look no further.

As hard as it is to let go, however, for Julia, it is time to move on. “Both of my children have been through university and moved down south, so my heart calls to be near them,” she says, with a pinch of genuine sadness. But there’s a smile of excitement at the new chapter she’s about to embark on. “The time is right to give someone else the chance to live in this truly beautiful, tranquil place. My heart aches knowing it’s coming to an end, but for some lucky person, the magical door at Knockburn is just about to open.”

Your sign is here.

Open the door.

Knockburn Farm | Sinderhope | Hexham | Northumberland – Offers Over £850,000

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