places to visit in Northumberland

8 Great Places to Visit in Northumberland

Have you been to Northumberland?

Northumberland is the most remote and least populated county in England, which made it very appealing to me. Occupying the northeast corner of the country, Northumberland has been labelled the most tranquil place in England.

Travel north or west and you reach Scotland. Just south of Northumberland is Newcastle and Cumbria while the North Sea marks the eastern edge of Northumberland.

Places to visit in Northumberland include castles and forts, as Northumberland has more than any county in England; historically, the castles were built and used to protect the English (and Roman empire) from those Scottish renegades.

8 Great Places to Visit in Northumberland

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall was built in the year 122 AD at the thinnest horizontal section of England, to mark the northern edge of the Roman empire (Britannia province). Hadrian’s Wall is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site called Frontiers of the Roman Empire.

One easy place to visit Hadrian’s Wall is Steel Rigg car park. You can also allow several days to walk the entire 84 mile Hadrian’s Wall Path.

Another wall was built 20 years later (142 AD) north in Scotland—called the Antonine Wall—but the Romans retreated back to Hadrian’s Wall, and then abandoned Britannia altogether in the 5th century.

 

Places to Visit in Northumberland

Hadrians Wall footpath sign Northumberland

 

Places to Visit in Northumberland

Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland England

Roman Forts

To support Hadrian’s Wall and the northern frontier of the Roman empire, there were many Roman forts. Two excellent fort sites are Vindolanda and Vercovicium (Housesteads). Vindolanda is operated by a charitable trust which operates a museum (including the Vindolanda Tablets and a remarkable collection of preserved leather goods), owns an extensive property of Roman ruins, and annually hosts volunteer archaeologists. Housesteads is an English Heritage site with great examples of barracks, toilets, and a hospital.

Hexham is a convenient base town to stay for visiting these Roman forts, Hadrian’s Wall, and other area destinations. During the summer season, a tourist bus operates among these local sites. The bus route is numbered AD122, 122 being the year that the Emperor Hadrian visited this area and oversaw the construction of the border wall.

 

Places to Visit in Northumberland

Vindolanda, Northumberland, England

 

Places to Visit in Northumberland

Roman leather collection at Vindolanda museum

 

Places to Visit in Northumberland

Housesteads Roman Fort, Northumberland

 

Places to Visit in Northumberland

Housesteads Roman Fort, Northumberland

Northumberland National Park: Hadrian’s Wall, Housesteads, and Vindolanda are all located in Northumberland National Park, which will house an upcoming state-of-the-art visitor centre called The Sill.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne

It is fun to visit Lindisfarne because the surrounding sea water covers the island causeway twice a day for several hours. Once on the island, explore the 16th century castle, the 11th century Priory ruins, quaint small village, and superb Lindisfarne Centre museum—with exhibits on island life, Viking history, and an electronic display of the historic Lindisfarne Gospels.

St. Cuthbert brought Celtic Christianity to the Northumberland region in the 7th century and is considered the patron saint of Northumberland and Northern England. While driving onto Lindisfarne, the Pilgrims’ Way is visible parallel to the causeway. Pilgrims’ way is part of St. Cuthbert’s Way, a long distance walking trail (63 miles).

St. Cuthbert is buried in Durham Cathedral, a magnificent and historic building from the 11th century, about 90 minutes away.

 

places to visit in Northumberland

Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island of Lindisfarne

 

places to visit in Northumberland

Lindisfarne Priory, Northumberland coast

 

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle (pronounced “ann-ick”) has been the home of the Percy family since the 14th century. In Henry IV, Shakespeare mentions Alnwick castle and its most famous resident, Harry Hotspur, son of the 1st Earl of Northumberland—Harry died in battle, before he could become 2nd Earl.

In the 21st century, Alnwick was the setting of Hogwarts Castle for the first two Harry Potter movies and Brancaster Castle for the Downton Abbey Christmas specials. Many other movies and television shows have been filmed here.

Alnwick Garden is called the world’s most extraordinary contemporary garden and is the pride and joy of the Duchess of Northumberland.

 

Places to Visit in Northumberland

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, England

 

Places to Visit in Northumberland

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

 

Dark Sky Discovery Site

The only observatory with its own bar,” said Roy Alexander, the local science teacher and lead astronomer at Battlesteads Observatory at Battlesteads Hotel & Restaurant. Roy’s presentation was entertaining and informative. Our audience was varied—preteens to seniors—and Roy managed the crowd (many with adult beverages!) while imparting some knowledge.

Battlesteads is one of several places to visit in Northumberland certified with Dark Sky status—but it remains the only observatory with its own bar!

Castles

Bamburgh Castle is a spectacular coastal castle, one of the largest still intact castles, and was the first castle ever to fall to artillery. Bamburgh Castle was purchased and restored by inventor and industrial magnate Lord William Armstrong. Another Armstrong property, Cragside, was the first house in the world powered by hydroelectricity. Warkworth Castle is also mentioned by Shakespeare in Henry IV. The ruins of Dustanburgh Castle can be reached by walking from Newton-by-the-Sea (see below).

There are two dozen castles in Northumberland, including the previously mentioned Lindisfare and Alnwick castles.

 

places to visit in Northumberland

road to Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland coast

 

places to visit in Northumberland

Bamburgh Castle along Northumberland coast

 

places to visit in Northumberland

Warkworth Castle, Northumberland

 

places to visit in Northumberland

Warkworth Castle

 

Home of Earl Grey

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, was Prime Minister of England and is historically popular for leading countrywide political reform. Earl Grey tea was specifically designed to counter the natural lime in the water at Howick Hall, the Grey family estate. Today, Howick Hall Gardens is a popular place to visit in Northumberland. The onsite Earl Grey Teahouse can only be visited by people with paid admission to the gardens.

There is also a monument to Earl Grey in downtown Newcastle.

 

Northumberland Coast AONB

The Northumberland Coast AONB includes Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Bamburgh Castle, and Warkworth Castle (see above). The village of Seahouses is a perfect stop for fish and chips and a boat ride to the Farne Islands. The tiny village of Newton-by-the-Sea is the starting point for a beach walk to Dustanburgh Castle. I was told that The Ship Inn in Low Newton serves magnificent crab dishes.

I just love that there are portions of England labeled Area of Natural Beauty. Here is a listing of all AONBs.

 

places to visit in Northumberland

Budle Bay, Northumberland AONB

 

places to visit in Northumberland

Newton by the Sea, Northumberland coast

 

places to visit in Northumberland

Dustanburgh Castle beach walk, Northumberland AONB

 

What places to visit in Northumberland would you recommend?


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6 Responses to “8 Great Places to Visit in Northumberland”

  1. Arnie May 26, 2016 at 4:30 pm #

    We were in York last summer. Jo, my wife, wanted to go to Alnwyck, as she can trace one branch of her lineage here. So close, relatively. Just another reason to visit again.

    • McCool Travel May 29, 2016 at 9:47 am #

      Definitely. So much history in that region of the world.

  2. Sara Broers (@TravelWithSara) April 6, 2016 at 10:03 pm #

    Thanks for the inspiration to travel to Northumberland! Now I need to plan a visit to England.

    • McCool Travel April 10, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

      It is just south of Edinburgh, Scotland, too. Just providing another nudge.

  3. Kaylene Chadwell April 5, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

    I’ve never been to this area but it looks lovely! I’m going to be traveling in the UK a lot this next year, so I’ll definitely have to check Northumberland out!

    • McCool Travel April 5, 2016 at 11:36 pm #

      So much to explore in UK. I just scratched the surface here.

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