The Comb has played host to various dwellings since at least the 14th century. There is still a ruined Peel Tower from that period buried in the grounds and across the Tarset burn are the remains of Corby Castle, the ancestral seat of the Millburns.
The area was central to the Border Reiving activities of the Scottish and England Middle Marches being the areas into which the border region was divided for administration and policing purposes at that time.
In the late 1700’s the present stone buildings were constructed as a border hill farm with a focus on livestock. The buildings are limestone with some of the old byre and farmhouses partly made from the stone of the old peel tower.
After the 2nd World War a large area of the hills and moors in central north Northumberland were allocated for forestry and assigned to the Forestry Commission. The Comb was and is therefore bordered on 2 sides by Kielder Forest but continued to be used as a small farm. It was earmarked as a site for the development of a forestry village after the war but this did not transpire.
In 1974, Bob & Pat Hodgson commenced a training business at the location with the main farm buildings converted into bedrooms and dormitories used for residential training as well as outdoor pursuits.
Over the next 4 decades Reivers of Tarset and Reivers Development gained an extensive reputation for their training methods and courses helping many businesses to drive sustainable improvements in performance by stimulating their workforce and their behaviour.
In the late 80’s , after repeated request from a number of clients, a challenge was created allowing rival businesses to test their team skills against each other. This was the birth of the Kielder Challenge which ran for 25 years growing in stature and popularity with a peak entry of around 120 teams and involving approaching 800 people. The 2-day format saw teams of 6 undertaking scored tasks in set locations they had to orienteer to in the Forest and moors before building an shelter in the forest to plan the final Sunday task. A barbeque, party and prize giving rounded off the event where friendships new and old where made and tales of their adventures shared.
Also in the 80’s Reivers took over the exclusive water sports franchise on the newly constructed Kielder Water. They ran water sports tuition and hire successfully from a log-cabin at Leaplish water park on Kielder Water. A this time they offered a wide variety of activities for the adventurous including Quad bike safaris, Cross country skiing, Windsurfing, Sailing, Canoeing, Paintballing, Go kart racing, Clay pigeon shooting, Orienteering and Archery
Over the course of 40+ years, The Comb has been happy to welcome a large variety of characters and people from many walks of life including adventurers, business experts, holiday makers, writers, artists, wildlife enthusiasts and members of the armed forces who where frequently on exercise in the surrounding country. Many became family friends as they took respite from the cold in the comfort of the Comb bar.
This included the famed figures of David Stirling and Fitzroy Maclean. David Stirling founded the SAS during the 2nd world war. Fitzroy Maclean operated in covert missions during the war, was Churchill’s special envoy to Tito in Yugoslavia as well as being an early member of the SAS.
Maclean was a tall charismatic highland Scot and is widely thought to have been the inspiration and basis of Ian Fleming’s James Bond. During a visit to the Comb, the Duke of Roxburgh and others organised a surprise event for Maclean and Stirling. As founder and early participant during the war, neither man had ever passed-out of SAS training and therefore had never received their coveted beige coloured berets. During a simple ceremony in the bar at The Comb the SAS founder and the real James Bond were finally presented with their SAS berets.
Over the last few years The Comb has been completely stripped out and fully refurbished ready for a new generation of activities. The old beams, stone walls and floors have been restored and exposed with all rooms enlarged and en suite facilities added. The result is a high quality building for any group or party to enjoy that retains the character of the building that is ideally suited to basking on hot summer afternoons or cozy fireside winter nights.
We hope the refurbishment does justice to the extensive history of The Comb, and with your help, we look to create fresh memories and new chapters.