Plan your Northumberland getaway with our A-Z guide of things to do
A – Alnwick Castle and Gardens
The current family home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, Alnwick Castle, is open to the public from March to October. See how the other half lives in the State Rooms, relive parts of the Harry Potter movies with some broomstick training and try your hand at some medieval arts and crafts. Over in the Gardens, there is the wonderful bamboo maze, Grand Cascade water displays, and the Treehouse, where you can dine among the branches and test your balance on the rope bridges.
Alnwick Castle: www.alnwickcastle.com; 01665 511100
Alnwick Gardens: www.alnwickgarden.com; 01665 511350
B – Bamburgh Castle and Beach and Barter Books
The position of Bamburgh Castle makes it one of the most breathtaking places to visit. Set on the rocky plateau above Bamburgh beach, it has far-reaching sea views and provides a dramatic back drop to the beach. The wide, white sands below make Bamburgh one of the most beautiful beaches in this stretch of coast with some fantastic dunes for sledging.
Bamburgh Castle: www.bamburghcastle.com; 01668 214515
Barter Books: www.barterbooks.co.uk; 01665 604888
C- Cheviot Hills
At the north of the Northumberland National Park, this walking country will bring you up close with wildlife in the shallow rivers, see the well-known Linhope Spout waterfall and ascend the highest point in Northumberland.
Northumberland National Park Visitor Centre (Once Brewed): firstname.lastname@example.org; 01434 344396
D – Dunstanburgh Castle
The haunting ruins of Dunstanburgh sit to the north of the rocky Craster coast and to the south of the beautiful Embleton Bay. Catch it at sunrise or sunset for some truly sublime views.
Dunstanburgh Castle: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/dunstanburgh-castle/; 01665 576231
E-Elizabethan Walls, Berwick
Built to keep out the Scots, Berwick’s walls are the only example of bastioned town walls in Britain. The walk around the walls takes about 45 minutes with views of the town, the beaches and the Tweed estuary.
Berwick Town Walls: 01670 622155
F-Farne Islands, Fish and Chips and Ferryman’s Hut in Alnmouth
Catch a boat from Seahouses harbour to the Farne Islands throughout the year and see puffins, grey seals and a whole host of bird life. Afterwards enjoy some traditional fish and chips at one of the many eateries in Seahouses.
Inside the Ferryman’s Hut there’s less space than a fitted wardrobe. Considered to be the smallest museum in the country, it houses framed photos of the hut’s history and assorted trinkets.
G – Grace Darling Museum and Goswick Links Golf Course
An RNLI museum in Bamburgh, the Grace Darling Museum, celebrates the life of this heroine who risked her life to save the survivors of a wrecked ship. Northumberland has numerous excellent golf courses but Goswick links particularly stands out with its sea views of Holy Island.
Grace Darling Museum: http://rnli.org/aboutus/historyandheritage/Pages/Grace-Darling.aspx; 01668 214910
Goswick Links Golf Course: www.goswicklinksgc.co.uk/; 01289 387256
H – Hulne Park, Alnwick
Hulne Park in Alnwick is beautiful all year round, but is particularly fun in the autumn for finding conkers from its numerous horse chestnut trees.
I – Icecream at Coxon’s
Coxon’s Icecream is a must when holidaying on this part of the coast. Grab a 99 through the hatch and then wander down to the harbour wall, or sit in the parlour and really indulge.
Coxon’s Icecream: 01665 720555
J – Jolly Fisherman, Craster
A gastro pub in the heart of Craster, famous for its crab sandwiches, and with some gorgeous sea views from the dining room and beer garden.
Jolly Fisherman: www.thejollyfishermancraster.co.uk/; 01665 576461
K – Kippers and Kimmerston Riding Centre
You can’t come to Northumberland without tasting a smoked kipper. There are smokehouses at both Craster and Seahouses.
Kimmerston Riding Centre offers beach rides at Holy Island or in the Cheviot Hills.
L Robson Smokehouse, Craster: www.kipper.co.uk; 01665 576223
Swallowfish, Seahouses: www.swallowfish.co.uk/; 01665 721052
Kimmerston Riding Centre: www.kimmerston.com/; 01668 216283
L – Lindisfarne (Pilgrim’s Path) and Lowry Trail
Follow the Pilgrim’s Path across the causeway to Lindisfarne (Holy Island). The thrill here is making sure you know your tide times beforehand or you could get caught out as many have done before. Holy Island and Lindisfarne Castle and Priory in its grounds are steeped in medieval history and some 650,000 people visit every year. Artist Lowry, famous for his matchstick men paintings, holidayed in Berwick and some of his works are of scenes of this historic town. In Berwick you can walk the Lowry trail, which identifies some of the sites of his famous paintings.
M – Mizen Head Restaurant and Mick Oxley’s Art Gallery
You can’t come to Northumberland without having some seafood, and this is what the Mizen Head in Bamburgh does best. The mussels are particularly good and come in a range of sauces. Mick Oxley’s Art Gallery in Craster is worth stopping by to see some of his dramatic landscapes or pick up some unique pieces of jewellery.
Mizen Head Restaurant: www.mizenheadhotel.co.uk; 01668 214254
Mick Oxley Art Gallery: www.mickoxley.com; 01665 571082
N – Newton by the Sea
Almost completed owned by the National Trust, Newton has some great beaches, including the remote Football Cove. There are walks from Beadnell to Newton along the coast with some excellent stop offs at The Joiner’s Arms in High Newton or The Ship Inn in Low Newton.
Joiner’s Arms: www.joiners-arms.com/; 01665 576112
The Ship Inn: www.shipinnnewton.co.uk; 01665 576262
O – Old Dairy at Ford
The Old Dairy at Ford is a great stop off after a morning on the tourist trail. This ‘concept store’ is full of architectural and vintage finds alongside a café and champagne bar. It’s a really decadent place and completely unique in this part of the UK. The café only serves homemade produce or locally sourced breads and cheeses. The menu isn’t extensive, but you can be guaranteed that whatever you choose will be excellent. They are particularly renowned for their coffee.
Old Dairy: www.theolddairyinford.co.uk; 01890 820325
P – Paxton House, Berwick
An 18th Century mansion on the River Tweed with extensive grounds and family-friendly events.
Paxton House: www.paxtonhouse.co.uk; 01289 386291
Q – Quirky artefacts at Chillingham Castle
This quirky castle has ghost tours, curses, curious weapons and a torture chamber. It’s not all gruesome, there is a woodland and lake walk and the chance to get up close with the only wild cattle in the world.
Chillingham Castle: www.chillingham-castle.com; 01668 215359
R – Ross Back Sands beach
The 1.5 mile walk from the parking area to this beach through the nature reserve is one of the reasons why Ross Back Sands is so deserted. For those who make the journey, they will be rewarded by the pleasure in having this sandy haven to themselves, even on a Bank Holiday. The quietness of the beach also makes it a popular spot with naturists – you have been warned!
S-Sycamore Gap, Hadrian’s Wall and Sugar Sands
From the Once Brewed Visitor Centre in Bardon Mill there is a lovely walk along Hadrian’s Wall to Sycamore Gap – made famous by Kevin Costner in the film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. Sugar Sands is a secluded beach between Boulmer and Howick. It’s a trek to get there, but is well-worth the walk.
For Once Brewed Visitor Centre details see C- Cheviot Hills
T – Tea at Howick Gardens and Toys
Have afternoon tea at the home and gardens of the man behind Earl Grey tea – Earl Grey!
Take a trip into Alnwick and visit Mojo Toys, which has a fabulous selection of wooden toys from Le Toy Van and Melissa and Doug.
Howick Gardens: www.howickhallgardens.org; 01665 577285
Mojo Toys: www.mojogifts.com; 01665 600915
U – Umbrella Weather
The Ocean Club in Seahouses is the perfect choice when the Northumberland weather demands you bring an umbrella. There’s a 20-metre pool, a separate children’s pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room plus ESPA beauty treatments.
The Ocean Club: www.ocean-club.co.uk; 01665 721600
V – Vindolanda
One of Europe’s most important Roman archaeological sites, with live excavations taking place every year. See the Writing Tablets – the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain – and the award-winning Edge of Empire 3D film.
Vindolanda: www.vindolanda.com; 01434 344277
W – Whisky blends at the Olde Ship Inn, Seahouses and Watersports at Beadnell Bay
The Olde Ship Inn: www.seahouses.co.uk; 01665 720200
Boards and Bikes: www.boardsandbikes.co.uk; 07563 040195
Kevin Anderson Kitesurfing: www.kitesurfinglessons.co.uk; 07766 303876
X- Be eXtravagant and enjoy a hot air balloon ride
Alba Ballooning do early morning or early evening flights over Northumberland or the Tweed Valley in the Scottish Borders.
Alba Ballooning: www.albaballooning.co.uk; 01875 830709
Y- Yummy cakes at Sunnyhills of Belford
Sunnyhills of Belford is a farm shop and café rolled into one. They have some awesome homemade cakes like sticky toffee and carrot, which taste even better when washed down with a cappuccino or latte. Also check out their breakfasts as they’re one of the few places in Northumberland with an early morning menu.
Sunnyhills of Belford: www.sunnyhillsfarmshop.co.uk; 01668 219662