I moved to Newcastle upon-Tyne three years ago now (wow that’s gone fast!). I loved getting to know the city, which I have completely fallen in love with, but also exploring Northumberland. So many of these places were already so familiar to me. From being a young child, up until the age of about 12, the majority of our family holidays we actually spent camping in Northumberland, which I look back on with the fondest memories. It has been amazing getting to explore these places once more as an adult, with so many other places I still want to visit.
So for those of you that don’t know, Northumberland is a beautiful county in the north east which borders Scotland as well as the counties of Tyne and Wear, Cumbria and County Durham. It also includes its own National Park. Here’s a few of my favourite places and why everyone should visit Northumberland if they get the chance.
Alnwick is a market town in the heart of Northumberland, it’s fairly popular with tourists and is home to the wonderful Alnwick Castle and Gardens. Visiting both makes for an expensive day out but one absolutely worth it. Some of the castle grounds were featured in the first Harry Potter film, when they are learning to fly on broomsticks – I thought I’d include that for all the potter fans out there! The gardens are stunning, I would recommend taking the tour of the poison garden, just don’t touch anything! I have also had the wonderful experience of dining in the Tree House Restaurant twice. The building itself is fantastic and creates a really cosy atmosphere with fairy lights and log burners. The food is pretty good too, but it’s definitely the whole experience that makes it worth the money.
Barter Books also gets an honourable mention here. An amazing and unique second hand bookstore and library housed in Alnwick’s old railway station. If you are an avid reader definitely pay this store a visit, you won’t regret it!
The Farne Islands
One of my favourite things to do, taking a boat trip from Seahouses out to the Farne Islands. This is a group of about 15-20 islands of varying sizes scattered between 1 and 5 miles off the Northumberland coast.
There are many trips out to the islands, including a few which stop at some of the larger islands. Pick your time of year wisely and you can see hundreds of seals on the rocks as you travel around, as well as numerous sea birds including the wonderful puffins (my personal favourite). Seeing the vast amount of sea birds nesting is amazing and you can see the birds really close up. If you’re really really lucky, there are occasionally dolphins which can be spotted too.
Holy Island (Lindisfarne)
Another highlight is driving across the causeway to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne (or just Holy Island). The castle owned by the National trust is a fantastic visit, but also just wandering through the village, take a walk around the whole island, add a rock to the towers on the beach. It’s a beautiful and unique place to connect with nature.
Cragside makes an amazing day out for families, couples, individuals…anyone. I know this is another National Trust owned place on the list, and they are an expensive place to visit, but if you can go…do! The place is huge, there’s the house, which was the first in the world to be powered by hydroelectricity, as well as masses of amazing grounds to explore including the Archemedes Screw, Formal Garden, Rock Garden, Lakes and Pinetum.
Keilder Water and Forest Park is another fantastic place to go located to the west of the county by the Scottish border. There are miles of bike and walking trails to explore as well as waterskiing and sailing on the lake. A must do includes a visit to the unique Keilder observatory, take advantage of the county’s dark skies and see if you can spot a shooting star.