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Travel guides covering numerous destinations across the globe with a focus on: must-visit cities, places of historical and culture significance including Unesco World Heritage Sites, and opportunities to see wildlife in their natural habitats.

Read up-to-date tips and advice for expats based on my own experiences of expat life including our recent move to Australia.

 

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10 beautiful places to visit in Northumberland England

10 beautiful places to visit in Northumberland England

Northumberland is the northernmost county of England and borders Scotland to the north and the English countries of Durham, Tyne and Wear and Cumbria. With a population of 320,000 and no major cities Northumberland is the least densely populated county in England. The site of many battles between the Scots and the English Northumberland has more castles than any other county. While some are in ruins others remain inhabited to this day including Alnwick and Bamburgh Castles. If you are a Harry Potter fan you may recognise Alnwick Castle as it made an appearance in two of the films.

With its wild and rugged coastline and beautiful moorlands, gardens, beaches and quaint market towns you are spoilt for choice with so many wonderful places to visit in Northumberland. 

It can be quite overwhelming to decide where to visit when there is so much to see and do. Where are the best days out in Northumberland? When is the best time to visit Northumberland? Which castles to visit? Where to stay in Northumberland?

As well as recommending 10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Northumberland there is additional information at the end to help when you are planning your trip.


1. VISIT ALNWICK CASTLE AND GARDEN

By Kathi Kamleitner from Watch Me See


I visited Alnwick Castle & Garden as part of a day trip from Edinburgh, but even though I had been to other places around Northumberland before, it was and still is my absolute highlight in the region! The oldest parts of the castle are as old as the 11th century and as if a thousand-year-long history was not enough, it also featured in a variety of movies and TV shows, like Harry Potter, Robin Hood and Downton Abbey. So whether you are a history buff or a film tourist, you will love laying your eyes on this medieval beauty!

The castle is owned by the Duke of Northumberland and inside the castle you can see photographs and memorabilia of the family dotted between antique furniture and art. The castle may have been remodelled a few times to accommodate a few comforts of modern life, but it still has a very medieval feel to it. I loved walking around the castle grounds inside the massive walls. It is where Harry Potter and his friends first learnt to fly and Potter fans can go into full wizard/witch mode by taking one of the broomstick training sessions offered by the castle.

Alnwick Garden is the brainchild of the Duchess of Northumberland – a widespread landscaped garden with several themed areas. There is a cherry orchard with swings between trees, a fenced off section filled with poisonous plants, a beautiful rose garden and the impressive Grand Cascade at the centre.

The entrance fee is a bit hefty, particularly if you get a combi ticket for the castle and garden, but there is so much to explore and discover, you can easily spend an entire day between the two attractions!

Alnwick Castle

 

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2. VISIT THE FARNE ISLANDS OFF NORTHUMBERLAND’S COAST

by Sarah Carter from ASocialNomad


How could you not visit Sir David Attenborough’s favourite place in the UK?    The Farne Islands are a group of islands off the Northumberland Coast, most commonly visited from the town of Seahouses.

Even on a boat trip, without landing on the islands you’ll be able to spot up to 23 varieties of seabirds – from razorbills to puffins and guillemots.

The island group is also home to Atlantic seals – housing the largest breeding colony in England with around 1,000 pups born here each autumn.

The islands are owned by the National Trust, so there is a fee to pay to land on them, although this is waived for trips to the Longstone Lighthouse.  Here (and in the museum in Bamburgh) you can follow the story of Victorian heroine Grace Darling.   At just 22 years of age, she, with her father William, who was the keeper of Longstone Lighthouse, rescued survivors of the stricken steamer SS Forfarshire in 1838.

Visit the Farne Islands and you’ll see national history, women’s history and also natural history.  It’s a beautiful place and a stunning natural environment.

 

FARNE ISLANDS

 

READ MORE
Planning a Drive Up the Northumberland Coastal Route

3. VISIT MORPETH

by Ron and Michele of Legging It


Morpeth is a town not to miss on your visit to Northumberland, nestling on the banks of the River Wansbeck you can meander along it’s banks enjoying the beautiful parklands and the views across to the town. There are now plenty of bridge crossings but if you are after a bit of history you can use the Steppe Stones to take you across from one side to the other.

If you like gardens the William Turner (the Botanist not the Painter) Gardens and Millennium Gardens are both nice places to stop of and enjoy the flowers and visiting birds. Another famous resident was suffragette Emily Davison, you can find a memorial to her in St Mary’s Church and she is buried in the family plot there. The Chantry Bagpipe Museum (yes there are bagpipes outside Scotland) is also worth a visit as it gives you an interesting insight into the history of bagpipes.

If you are visiting around October they also have a food festival where you can enjoy a huge variety of local food and entertainment. Morpeth is a great little town, it is big enough to keep you busy for a couple of days while still small enough that you are not surrounded by people all the time, this makes it the perfect base to explore more of Northumberland.

 

MORPETH IN NORTHMBERLAND - places to visit in Northumberland


4. VISIT DUNSTANBURGH CASTLE

by Heather and Pete from The Conversant Traveller


Northumberland isn’t short of castles, so it can be hard to choose which to visit during your stay. One of our favourites is Dunstanburgh Castle, a mysterious and dramatic ruin standing proudly on a remote windswept headland, just a half hour easy walk from the tiny and beautiful fishing village of Craster.

Built at the beginning of the 14th Century, Dunstanburgh Castle survived sieges and fierce fighting during the Wars of the Roses, and was captured more than once, but later fell to ruin and today is one of the most iconic sights to visit in Northumberland. The twin-towered keep is perhaps the most impressive remaining feature, with superb views along the coast towards Bamburgh Castle. Yet the best views are from afar, as you approach Dunstanburgh along the coastal footpath.

Whilst you’re exploring the castle, don’t forget to check out the towering cliffs and seabird colony behind the castle, it’s a great spot for a picnic and endless views out to sea. The castle is free to National Trust and English Heritage members, and parking is in Craster Village. Incidentally, it’s worth spending some time in Craster after your castle visit, to watch the fishermen bobbing about in their boats, and to try the famous kippers, apparently a bit of a favourite with the Royal Family!

 


5. WALK HADRIAN’S WALL

by Laurence from Finding the Universe


A long time ago, the Romans built themselves a big empire across Europe. They did pretty well at conquering large swathes of the continent, but somehow the wild north of the UK – which we call Scotland today – managed to elude their grasp. The war like Pictish people were having none of it, and after some failed attempts at conquest, the Romans decided that maybe a fairly damp corner of the British Isles wasn’t worth losing men over, so they decided to wall it off.

Hadrian’s Wall was the result – a spectacular metres high eighty mile long fortified wall that stretched from one side of England to the other, and which marked the northern boundary of the Roman empire in the UK. It was named for the Roman Emperor of the time, Hadrian, and took less than six years to build.

This wall stood as an effective barrier for 300 years, until the Roman Empire fell. In that time it was home to tens of thousands of people, responsible for defending the wall from invaders, as well as all the people whom such a mass of people attract, from market traders to tradespeople, and more. With soldiers and slaves sourced from the entire empire, it was also a truly multi cultural location, even if it wasn’t exactly a popular posting thanks to the weather.

Today, much of the wall has gone, but parts remain. A popular hike follows the path of the wall from end to end, and there are various archaeological sites along the route where you can see the remains of Roman encampments. It’s a must for anyone visiting Northumberland, or taking a UK road trip.

 

HADIANS WALL protection from invaders across the Scottish borders

 

READ MORE
4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Northern England to visit

6. VISIT HOWICK HALL GARDENS HOME OF EARLS GREY


Do you enjoy Earl Grey tea? Howick Hall is the residence of the Earls Grey and the birthplace of the tea that bears its creators name. Take a stroll through the gardens and arboretum before retiring to the Earl Grey Tea House which is exclusive to visitors to the Hall.

Pour yourself a cup of tea which was especially blended for the 2nd Earl Grey by a Chinese mandarin to suit the water from the spring at Howick. Apparently the bergamot was added to counter the taste of lime that was in the local water. The tea proved popular and the rest is history! Apparently as the family did not register a trade mark for Earl Grey they have made not a penny from it!

Howick Hall is not open all year round so do check the website for further details. Season tickets are available which cost £28 single and £48 double. Alternatively pay £7.70 for adults and £6.60 for the over 60’s. Children are free. Canines are not allowed at the hall unless they are assistance dogs.

HOWICK HALL


7. VISIT BAMBURGH CASTLE

by The Chaotic Scot


As you enter the sleepy Northumbrian village of Bamburgh, prepare to be greeted by an epic castle staged on a chunk of volcanic rock. Bamburgh Castle is a beautiful, imposing structure which looks good from every angle; grab a photo with the village’s cute cottages and street lanterns in the foreground, or wander over the sand dunes for a view from the beach. There are mentions of a wooded fortress on the site as far back as the 6thcentury, however the striking stone castle you see today came much later. 

 Over the years, the castle has seen many an interesting character within its walls: Vikings, ancient kings and the Normans. After seeing a ‘for sale’ ad in the newspaper, Lord Armstrong of Cragside bought Bamburgh Castle in 1894 and spent the last years of his life restoring it. Today it is the ancestral home of the Armstrong family, and is one of Northumbria’s most impressive castles. Wander through the stunning Kings Hall, watch a live archaeological excavation and learn about the castle with a guided tour or audio tour.  

  • The castle is open daily from 10.00 – 17.00  

Prices:

  • Adult – £10.95
  • Child (5 – 16 years) – £5
  • Under 5 – FREE
  • Family Ticket (2 adults and up to three dependents, up to 18 years old) – £26

A view of Bamburgh Castle


8. VISIT LINDISFARNE/HOLY ISLAND


Lindisfarne or Holy Island as it is known locally can be accessed via a causeway. It is important to check tide times prior to visiting the island or you may find yourself unable to drive to the island or back onto the mainland!

Famous for the Lindisfarne Gospels the island was repeatedly plundered by the Vikings. Lindisfarne Priory is acknowledged as one of the most important centres of early Christianity. The initial resting place of St Cuthbert and home to the most celebrated illuminated books in the world Lindisfarne should be a definite on any itinerary to Northumberland.

Purchase some locally brewed mead on the island and stroll to Lindisfarne Castle which was built with stones from the Priory (demolished during the dissolution of the Monasteries)

 

LINDISFARNE


9. VISIT HEXHAM


Hexham is a thriving market town in Northumberland and also the place of my birth!

Hexham Abbey is the main historical attraction in the town. It was built in AD474. The crypt of the original monastery survives and incorporates many stones taken from Roman ruins in the area. Hexham as a border town has been the site of many skirmishes throughout history. Hexham is also home to England’s first purpose built prison built in 1330-3. Take a visit and discover a wide-range of family friendly activities including the chance to meet the gaoler!

If markets are more your thing then pop into Hexham on market days – Tuesdays and Saturdays weekly.

HEXHAM IN THE SNOW


10. VISIT NORTHUMBERLAND NATIONAL PARK


Begin your adventure by visiting the Sill which is a brand new landscape discovery centre. This will inspire you to explore further and discover more of the land around. From there visit Hadrian’s Wall a UNESCO World Heritage Site which spans the park from east to west. Stop and walk the ancient roman wall and visit some of the larger sites such as Chesters Roman fort or the remains of a third-century Roman temple Bocolitia.

Northumberland National Park offers amazing stargazing opportunities and forms part of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park. The park is also Europe’s largest area of protected night sky and is officially the best place In England to enjoy the heavens.

A number of sites have been identified as perfect Dark Skies Discover Sites such as Cawfields, Stonehaugh and Harbottle.

While walking the park keep an eye out for wildlife including roe deer, wild goats and the beautiful native red squirrel.

And finally a visit to Northumberland National Park would not be complete without a visit to the Sycamore Gap tree. This tree is one of the most photographed in the country and stands in a dip in Hadrian’s Wall in the park. It has (in 2016) won the award for English Tree of the Year from the Woodland Trust.

NORTHUMBERLAND NATIONAL PARK SYCAMORE GAP

TIPS AND THINGS TO KNOW!

1. Alnwick is pronounced “Ann-ick”

2. The North-East coast of England can be cold and windy all year round so pack accordingly! It can be hot in summer and when it is there is always the possibility of a sea fret – which is a cool mist that covers the coast and the temperature will drop considerably. If there is a sea fret drive inland!

3. Parking can be extremely difficult in summer particularly in popular places like Bamburgh so go early or prepare to wait a while or walk a long way!

4. Be careful of the birds when it is nesting season or you will be swooped! (or pooped on)

5. Check for low tide  before you go to Holy Island!

6. Carry change for parking!


PIN FOR LATER – PLACES TO VISIT IN NORTHUMBERLAND


10 PLACES TO VISIT IN NORTHUMBERLAND

TOURS OF NORTHUMBERLAND

 

HOTELS IN NORTHUMBERLAND

Choosing accommodation for your holiday in Northumberland can be overwhelming with the vast amount of choices available.

Click this link for great choices of hotels/cottages and B&B’s in Northumberland.

 

If you would prefer to stay in Northumberland National Park then click here for some great options to meet all your requirements!

 


READ MORE
Planning a Drive Up the Northumberland Coastal Route

READ MORE
4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Northern England to visit

 

 


 

Faraway Files

 

Author: Tracy

Working my way around the globe for 30 years – teacher, traveller, and train lover. Sharing authentic experiences from my travels and life as an expat in Australia.

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17 Comments

  1. October 22, 2018 / 6:59 pm

    What a stunning area of the world! We just talked today about maybe going to Scotland (dreaming about future trips). I was there once and drove up from London. Seeing parts of Hadrian’s Wall was so memorable. I would love to explore this area more!
    Sharon recently posted…The Castle District of BudapestMy Profile

    • TracyJane
      Author
      October 24, 2018 / 10:36 am

      Hope you get the chance to soon!

  2. October 24, 2018 / 8:36 am

    As comes from the northeast of England, we’ve visited Northumberland and loved the castles and islands. Great post.

    • TracyJane
      Author
      October 24, 2018 / 10:35 am

      Thanks guys glad you enjoyed it and the North-East 🙂

  3. October 26, 2018 / 12:27 am

    The north North of England is somewhere I never had a chance to explore and I regret that. I have been as far as Newcastle (Sy is a Toon Army fan) and that was wonderful, but there is so much more I want to see, Lindisfarne for example, it has so much history (the place where the Vikings first landed for instance, although I’m sure they don’t wish to be remembered just for that). Great post, pinned. #feetdotravel

  4. Denise Ashby
    November 2, 2018 / 8:09 am

    I’m very fortunate to live in Northumberland, just a few miles from Alnwick & I really enjoyed reading your guide.
    Northumberland has the most beautiful sandy beaches like Sugar Sands & valleys such as the Breamish & Harthope Valleys where you can sit or walk along beautiful streams surrounded by stunning scenery . I feel very privileged to call Northumberland my home.

    • Tracy
      Author
      November 6, 2018 / 9:00 pm

      I will be definitely doing more posts about Northumberland – while I don’t live there anymore it is where I was born and spent 15 years of my life. Lovely part of the world 🙂

    • Tracy
      Author
      November 6, 2018 / 8:59 pm

      Awww thats fab! I grew up in Seaton Delaval so not too far from Whitley Bay!

  5. Karen Brown
    November 3, 2018 / 6:35 am

    Cragside Hall is a true gem. Lord Armstrong made Europe’s largest rock garden, first house in the world with hydroelectricity. Beautiful walks and inventions to be amazed at.

    • Tracy
      Author
      November 6, 2018 / 8:58 pm

      I think it will be on my next list!

  6. November 3, 2018 / 11:12 am

    Thanks for a great round up of places to explore in Northumberland I recently walked Hadrian’s Wall, the post is on this link up which is a wonderful co-incidence. Loved the countryside and delighted there are so many excuses to take me back ten again. Thanks for sharing on farawayfiles

    • Tracy
      Author
      November 6, 2018 / 8:58 pm

      Thanks Carolyn I loved your post – have shared it on my FB page as know many people who would love to do that walk!

      • November 6, 2018 / 10:49 pm

        Thank you so much, trying to leave a comment without mistakes this time!

  7. November 7, 2018 / 1:31 pm

    I was fascinated to find out about David Attenborough’s favourite place in the UK, Tracy! That would be more than reason enough for us to visit. Northumberland is one of those counties that our family would love to visit. We’d really enjoy visiting Alnwick Castle and I’ve heard great things about the coast too. Thanks for sharing this on #FarawayFiles

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HI THIS IS ME – TRACY

Hello from Australia

Traveller, teacher, train lover, and milkshake connoisseur.Now living and working in my 7th country and experiencing life as an expat in Queensland, Australia.

I write to inspire others whatever their age to explore the world - near and far!

I have travelled for over 30 years including solo in my 20's , as a single parent in my 30's and now in my 40's and beyond with my husband. House sitter and aspiring grey nomad a life of location independence is my goal.

Over 40 years ago I dreamt of a life well travelled and that is the life I live!

Dream it, plan it, do it!!

Tracy

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