Set on a ridge six miles south of the Tyne valley, the village of Slaley provides an excellent starting point for visitors to this part of Northumberland. The area is still farming country, with woods, streams and fields, and a network of footpaths and bridleways.
At the eastern end of the village, Townfoot is the site of the village’s Commemoration Hall, given to the village in commemoration of the safe return of the Hunting family’s sons.
To the north lies Juliet’s Wood, one of Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s newest reserves, while further south are the grounds of Slaley Hall hotel, with two golf courses and a network of footpaths open to all. The southern boundary of the parish looks over to the Derwent Reservoir.
To the West, Townhead at the junction with the B6306 road from Hexham, is the venue for the annual Slaley Show in August. The Show began its long history in 1848 and carried on through two world wars to the present day.
From the Hexham road you look west over woods and fields towards the valley of the Devil’s Water, while to the south lies the extensive Slaley Forest.
Within the forest is the Ladycross stone quarry, one of the last hand-worked quarries in Britain, producing stone and slates for restoration work in churches and cathedrals from Durham to Canterbury. The surrounding nature reserve is open to visitors by arrangement. Rough roads thread the forest, and a sculpture trail can be followed, while the southern edge of the forest leads on to the open Blanchland Moor.
There have been references to a settlement at Slaley since the time of the Norman Conquest. Slaley then became part of the Barony of Bolbec. In later centuries Scots invaders and the Border Reivers harried Slaley and towns nearby.
Local industries have included lead smelting, when packhorse trains carried the lead along the Lead Road. Quarrying, and farming were and still are important occupations.