You don’t have to have a large budget to experience what Northumberland has to offer. Much of it, especially the coastal and country landscape, is there for you to enjoy, at no charge. Even the numerous castles, which have an entry fee, can be viewed and enjoyed without even stepping inside. Add these eight free things to do to your Northumberland bucket list.
- Be awed by the spiritual nature of Holy Island.
The drive across the causeway to Holy Island is worth the visit in itself. You’ll get to see Pilgrim’s Way where wooden poles indicated where it was safe to walk across the sands before the road was built in 1954. You can still do the walk yourself and follow in the footsteps of our medieval ancestors. Once on the island, you can see the magnificent Lindisfarne Castle, which sits high on a volcanic crag (please note the castle is currently surrounded in scaffolding as it undergoes restoration work. It will reopen in April 2018), and Lindisfarne Priory – once the home of St Oswald and the birthplace of one of the world’s most precious books, the Lindisfarne Gospels. Both these attractions have entry fees, but you can observe them easily without going inside. The Coldstream Museum is free and tells the story of the Coldstream Guards regiment spanning 350 years.
- Chill out on the beach
You could enjoy one beach everyday of your seven-day holiday, and you still would not have covered every bit of Northumberland’s coastline. And these beaches are no ordinary sands. Bamburgh is backed by high dunes and overlooked by the iconic castle. It’s a great idea to take along a bin bag and enjoy the thrill of some dune sledging. Beadnell is great for people watching as water sport enthusiasts kite surf, paddle board and canoe their way around its crescent-shaped bay. Ross Back Sands is Caribbean-esqe and offers solitude and Newton has its own pub just by the shore. Also check out Druridge Bay, Warkworth, Seahouses, Sugar Sands, Embleton and Goswick. Take a kite, build a sandcastle, or just dodge the waves at the water’s edge.
- Discover Victorian Britain’s plucky heroine
The Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh village recounts the tale of this 22 year old who risked her life to rescue nine survivors from the wrecked SS Forfarshire on September 7, 1838. She was a media celebrity of her day and was showered with honours.
- Appreciate art in Berwick
Lowry, famous for his matchstick paintings, is less well known for his cobbled streets and seaside scenes in Berwick where he holidayed from the 1930s-1970s. The Lowry Trail, about three hours in length, follows in his footsteps and lets you see some of those scenes that he painted.
- Enjoy stunning coastal views on a walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh
Repeatedly named as one of Britain’s favourite coastal walks, the Craster to Dunstanburgh route takes in the traditional fishing village of Craster with its harbour, the rocky shoreline, the romantic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle and the sparkling sands of Embleton Bay. Take a picnic and enjoy it on the rocks by the castle, where you may also spot a dolphin or two, or head down to the beach.
- Visit the Chain Bridge Honey Farm
At this visitor centre you’ll find a wealth of information about bees and honey, an observation hive and loads of vintage memorabilia. Hop on the double decker bus café if you’d like to treat yourself to some honey flapjack, sponge or icecream.
- Immerse yourself in literature at Barter Books
This is one for a rainy day. It’s a quirky secondhand book shop with open fires, armchairs and model trains. Housed in Alnwick’s old Victorian railway station, it truly is a place to get lost in.
- Go castle spotting
Northumberland is synonymous with its numerous castles. Hop in the car and see how many you can visit and photograph in one day. Each one has become iconic in its own right and depending on the time of day can offer a different view at each visit. Some of our favourites are Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh, Alnwick and Lindisfarne.
When you book a Retreat you get access to a number of our specially negotiated partner offers, which will give you discounts on some of the major attractions including English Heritage sites and The Alnwick Garden and Alnwick and Bamburgh Castles. So if you do want to go inside any of these places, you can get it just that little bit cheaper.