Our lowdown on events, attractions reopening, rainy day activities and where best to base your family getaway this February half term.
Castle and coastal fun in Bamburgh
Immerse yourself in more than 1,400 years of history at Bamburgh Castle when it reopens on February 8 for the 2020 season. Walk its battlements, lord it up in the state rooms and discover the myths and legends associated with this famous Northumberland landmark. Don’t go home without taking a castle selfie from the beach below or exploring the dunes at the castle’s feet. To really make the most of those castle views, stay at Bamburgh Five (sleeps 4) or Bamburgh Six (sleeps 5). There’s 10% off both these apartments – part of an Edwardian villa and within walking distance of Bamburgh’s restaurants and shops – until March 2020. Other things to do include visiting the RNLI Grace Darling Museum, which celebrates this Victorian maritime heroine’s rescue with her father of the nine survivors from the wreck of the SS Forfarshire in September 1838.
Seaside antics in Seahouses
Seahouses is as close as you’ll get to proper seaside fun in Northumberland. Hairy Biker recommended fish and chips, strolling along the pier, boat watching at the harbour, beach walks and losing all your pennies at the amusement arcade. Seahouses harbour underwent a recent £3million restoration but is now fully back open to the public. Boats sail out to The Farne Islands from here all year round, with grey seals being the main attraction at this time. If the weather is poor, The Ocean Club membership included in your stay (small entry fee applies) is just the ticket. With both adult and child pools, a steam room, sauna and jacuzzi and a coffee shop, you won’t care if it is grey outside. Stay at Bluegrass (sleeps 4) for apartment living with sea views or for a more traditional cottage experience, Seafarer’s has a log burning stove for nights in playing games and watching movies.
50th anniversary celebrations at Durham’s world-famous open-air museum
Beamish Museum is marking its 50th birthday with a series of celebrations throughout February half term. Highlights include an exhibition of 50 objects from the museum’s collection – the high-heeled wellies are a must-see! – Edwardian and 1950s party games and the chance to try candied fruit, punch and, of course, birthday cake. All the usual attractions will be open so you can explore what life was like in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s. Don’t miss riding the tram and buying bon bons and cinder toffee at the Jubilee Sweet Shop. Stay at our new Retreat, Number Nine (sleeps 4), just 15 minutes’ drive from Beamish and Durham City, twin beds in the second bedroom for the children and TV with Netflix for those who can’t live without it.
Outdoor adventures in Beadnell
This small village with a crescent-shaped beach centrally located on the Northumberland coast is the place to base your holiday if you love the outdoors. February is probably the coldest month for braving the sea in this location, but if the weather doesn’t put you off you can surf, kite surf, stand up paddle board, kayak and much more from this spot. If donning a wet suit fills you with terror, but you crave the fresh air then there are coastal walks north and south along St Oswald’s Way. The Beadnell to Newton stretch is our favourite as there’s a pub at the end and you’ll also be rewarded for your efforts by views of Dunstanburgh Castle on the distant headland. For a fun, by the beach cottage, stay at The Bolthole (sleeps 4). If you’re looking for something more luxe, then The Lantern House (sleeps 6) is the place to be.
Woodland wanderings and warming tea at Howick
Carpets of snowdrops adorn the grounds of Howick Hall and Gardens when it reopens in February. Children will love running through the woodland areas, playing ‘Pooh sticks’ and walking along the river. There’s a family snowdrop explorer challenge to take part in and you can finish off your adventures with tea and cake at The Earl Grey Tearoom. Earl Grey tea originated here after it was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin for Howick’s owner, the 2nd Earl Grey and Prime Minister from 1830-1834. Stay five minutes north of Howick at The Old Ale House, a period cottage with a pub around the corner and where you can walk down the hill to Craster with its shoreline, gastro pub and play park.
Browse our Find a Retreat section for all our remaining February half term cottages.