A novel experience – a visit to Barter books!

A novel experience – a visit to Barter books!


I think this is the sort of place I dreamt of as a child

Alnwick’s Barter Books is the most magical place for book lovers and is somewhere I could happily pass a day (week/month) or two curled up in a chair devouring a book.

My husband had heard about Barter Books while watching  an episode of Portillo’s travels around the UK and it is a must visit if you are in Northumberland. My sister (who lives in the North-East) was so enthused by our reports and pictures that she spent the entire day there at the first opportunity.

quotes at Barter Books

Just wonderful


Barter books was opened by Mary Manley in 1991 and is now one of the largest second-hand bookshops in Britain. It is situated inside a Victorian railway station which is a beautiful building with so much character. Those with a particular interest in the station’s history and architecture can follow the Alnwick Station Walkabout ‘A self-guided historical tour.’ This gives a step-by step room by room description of the building.

There are books everywhere and comfortable chairs and sofas and fires and even a train running on tracks above your head. There are amazing quotes joining bookcase to bookcase and beautiful murals to enjoy.

The 3 murals were commissioned by the owners. They are – the “Famous Writers mural” (see who you can spot) – the “Railway mural” which consists of the names of railway workers who worked at the station between 1850 and 1968 and finally the “Tennyson Installation.” This was inspired by the work of artist Mark Handforth and contains the first lines of Tennyson’s poem ‘Crossing the bar.’ (source from the Barter books leaflet)


There is a station buffet shop and we enjoyed a very tasty meal followed by a nice cuppa with some cake!

yummy lunch

Highly recommend lunch!

We absolutely loved spending time at Barter Books….what more could you ask for? Over 350,000 second hand books including some very rare (and expensive ones), WiFi, free parking and a station buffet? This is a very special place and if you are in Northumberland a must visit!

old waiting room

We plan to visit again in winter, choose a good book and curl up on one of their sofas, enjoy a warm fire and a hot chocolate from the station buffet. What better way to spend a winter’s day?

travel section

more travel…heaven!

a roaring fire

lovely fire!

Barter books

Barter Books is in Alnwick in beautiful Northumberland about 35 miles north of Newcastle. There are lots of things to see and do there. As well as visiting the bookshop you can visit Alnwick Gardens and Alnwick Castle.

We had a fantastic day driving up the coast visiting Seahouses, Bamburgh and Holy Island amongst others which you can read about “A drive up the Northumberland Coast”

If you are visiting the UK you may be interested to read some of my other posts

4 Unesco World Heritage Sites to visit in the Uk

Visiting The Lake District

The Kelpies


Barter books

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  1. July 13, 2016 / 7:17 am

    This is definitely on my list to do when I travel up that way again. Wished I knew about it when I was visiting Alnwick Castle a couple of months ago. Great find 🙂

    • July 13, 2016 / 5:54 pm

      Plan to spend a day there! It is a fantastic place!

  2. June 23, 2017 / 12:25 pm

    Holy ..! This looks like the best place ever..!

  3. March 25, 2018 / 4:31 am

    Books and trains — a winning combination! I would LOVE to visit this charming bookstore. I could spend a heavenly day here exploring all the shelves. Pinning for future travel inspiration!
    Sharon recently posted…A Walk in the Latin Quarter of ParisMy Profile

  4. March 27, 2018 / 2:51 pm

    What a fabulous bookstore and in a train station. How great to curl up with a good book in winter by the fire or look for an old book. Great place to visit. Pinned for later. #feetdotravel
    Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) recently posted…Kyoto Cherry Blossom in JapanMy Profile

  5. March 29, 2018 / 7:50 am

    Everything about this place oozes character! The fact it’s in a Victorian station, and I love that it has chairs and sofas to curl up and read. A wonderful few hours can be whiled away curled up with a delicious hot coffee and a good book, brilliant! #feetdotravel

  6. March 29, 2018 / 9:01 pm

    This looks our sort of place, could spend hours here! #feetdotravel

    • TracyJane
      March 31, 2018 / 7:48 am

      It is a lovely place – try to get up to Northumberland next time you are in the UK

  7. April 1, 2018 / 9:47 pm

    I can’t imagine a more perfect winter’s day! I love old bookstores, and this one is so charming. It reminds me a bit of Powell’s books in Portland, Or which has a similar feel with the quotes on the walls. However, this one seems even more quaint and magical. Thank you for sharing 🙂

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