Northumberland Travel Guide
Our luxury experts have compiled a guide to some of the best places to visit in Northumberland during your luxury cottage holiday
Northumberland is a county of beautiful landscapes and seascapes, with many special spots where you can feel secluded. It’s perfect for a relaxing luxury cottage holiday in the north of England. Wide sandy beaches grace the Northumberland Coast which is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Some of the best places to visit include Bamburgh, Seahouses, Beadnell and Craster. Meanwhile, the pretty countryside, is at its best in the Northumberland National Park. This is a place for all kinds of outdoor adventures from horse-riding to wildlife spotting. Northumberland is also rich in Roman heritage including Hadrian’s Wall and the stunning castles like Alnwick and Bamburgh. Northumberland is a great for a rural retreat or coastal hideaway.
Bamburgh is one of the most popular places to visit in Northumberland. With a long stretch of white, sand-dune fringed beach and the iconic Bamburgh Castle, which has stood guard here for over 1,400 years there’s plenty to see and do. The impressive castle was once a key stronghold in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, but today is inhabited by the Armstrong family and tickets can be bought to take a look around a number of rooms and the grounds. Also, worth a visit is the RNLI Museum dedicated to Grace Darling who was instrumental in a shipwreck rescue off the nearby Farne Islands in 1838.
"Bamburgh is one of the most popular places to visit in Northumberland. With a long stretch of white, sand-dune fringed beach and the iconic Bamburgh Castle, which has stood guard here for over 1,400 years there's plenty to see and do."
Bamburgh Beach, like many beaches along the coastline here, has plenty of space to spread out and find your own spot. It’s a fabulous place for long walks and popular with families and dog-walkers and also a great beach for surfing and kite-surfing. By the lighthouse there are lots of rockpools which little ones will love exploring. Meanwhile, horse-riders can enjoy the quiet country lanes and the bridleways that link up with local towns and villages, while the Bamburgh Castle Golf Course has to be one of England’s most scenic.
Seahouses isn’t far from Bamburgh and the coastal walk between the two is a popular way to take in the sea views. Seahouses is a colourful fishing village with tourist shops, crazy golf, pubs, ice-cream stands and fish and chip shops. At Swallow Fish, housed in the Fisherman’s Kitchen in Seahouses, there are the UK’s oldest smokehouses where the same method that was used to smoke locally caught fish in the 1800s is still used today. If you crave the beach there are plenty nearby. One of the most popular places to visit being St Aidan’s to the north of the harbour.
"Seahouses is a colourful fishing village with tourist shops, crazy golf, pubs, ice-cream stands and fish and chip shops."
Boat tours from the harbour include diving trips for experienced divers who come to explore the shipwrecks in the area, like the Somali steamer that sank in 1941. Seahouses is also known as ‘the gateway to the Farne Islands’ as this is where boats depart from for tours around or onto the islands. As a haven for wildlife including puffins, terns, ospreys, grey seals and sometimes even dolphins, there’s plenty to see for enthusiasts. Do wrap up warm as the sea breeze can be bracing.
The village of Beadnell is set at the end of the glorious Beadnell Bay and one of the most popular places to visit in Northumberland. Being a horseshoe shape the bay is sheltered and popular with families who like to spend the day having fun on the beach and in the sand dunes. Beadnell Bay is also a popular place to spend hours enjoying the variety of watersports available including windsurfing, wakeboarding, waterskiing, sailing and scuba-diving, as well as kite-surfing and fishing for salmon. To one side of the village is the harbour, near to which there are lime kilns that date from the 18th century and were used to make quicklime for use in fertiliser and mortar.
"The village of Beadnell is set at the end of the glorious Beadnell Bay and one of the most popular places to visit in Northumberland."
There are lots of coastal and country walking routes in the area. If you’re up for a good long hike take the 13-mile round trip towards the pretty coastal village of Low Newton-by-the-Sea. You can grab a pub lunch here at the popular pit stop, The Ship Inn, before you return. The coastal towns of Seahouses, Craster and Bamburgh are all a short drive away, whilst the nearby Cheviot Hills are a great place for cycling.
The Northumberland fishing port of Craster is most famous for its kippers that are freshly smoked here at Robson’s Smokehouse. The village has a pretty harbour and a nice selection of restaurants where you can sample the local seafood. Craster is a great base for holidaymakers who like to go fishing or enjoy stunning coastal walks. The walk, or bike ride if you prefer, from Craster along the coast to Dunstanburgh Castle which stands on a remote headland, is just about a mile long and is a very popular thing to do. Craster is one of the most picturesque villages on the Nothumberland Coast and a popular place to visit year round.
"The Northumberland fishing port of Craster is most famous for its kippers that are freshly smoked here at Robson's Smokehouse."
A little further south, you’ll come to a hidden cove and beach at Rumbling Kern, which was once frequented by whisky smugglers, but is well worth the extra distance. Back in Craster, you can visit the Arnold Memorial Nature Reserve that used to be an old quarry and is now a great place for birdwatching, or pick up some local art at the Mick Oxley Gallery. Craster is a convenient base to explore Alnwick, Bamburgh and Warkworth Castles, Howick Hall and there are several golf courses nearby.
Alnwick is a district in Northumberland which is renowned for its unspoilt natural beauty. Begin in the medieval town of Alnwick where winding cobbled streets lead to cafes, cosy pubs and independent shops, including a fabulous book store housed in the old Victorian Railway Station. However, it’s Alnwick Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Northumberland, that takes centre stage. This superb stately home was the location for Hogwarts school in the Harry Potter films and a host of tours can be booked to help you discover the castle’s magic for yourself. Meanwhile, Alnwick Garden is a must for its sheer beauty including the cherry blossom orchard and its enchanting Treehouse Restaurant.
"Begin in the medieval town of Alnwick where winding cobbled streets lead to cafes, cosy pubs and independent shops, including a fabulous book store housed in the old Victorian Railway Station."
The coastline of the Alnwick district stretches for over 20 spectacular miles and you can take a steam train ride on the Aln Valley Railway, which used to run from Alnwick, but now runs from Lionheart Station, to the vibrant harbour town of Alnmouth. Here, there are colourful cottages, lovely golden sand beaches and a variety of restaurants, pubs, gift shops and a golf course. As part of the Northumberland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, wildlife and birdlife is abundant in Alnmouth. Cyclists will enjoy exploring the Castles Cycle Route, whilst walkers can join St Oswald’s Way. The variety of things to see and do make Alnwick one of the best places to visit in Northumberland.
Northumberland National Park
Northumberland National Park is the least populated national park in the UK and benefits from particularly clean air and dark skies. As well as being a tranquil spot, it is a haven for wildlife including red squirrels, the rare black grouse and the curlew. The national park spans over 400 square miles and boasts a number of interesting sites, including Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site. For great views of the wall, head to the viewing platform at The Sill Landscape Discovery Centre. Or, seek out the wall’s dramatic Sycamore Gap where a solitary tree grows – it’s one of the most photographed spots in the national park.
"The national park spans over 400 square miles and boasts a number of interesting sites, including Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site."
Walking trails in the park are superb and as well as walks along the 84-mile long Hadrian’s Wall Path, the Cheviot Hills near to the Scottish border and the Simonside Hills are great places to roam. Meanwhile, rock climbing, mountain biking and horse-riding are all popular. If you like to stargaze there are some great spots to base yourself on a clear evening, with the remote College Valley boasting some of the darkest skies. If you are looking to see some of the national park’s archaeological sites, there are lesser-known ancient remains including a Bronze Age burial site at Turf Knowe in the Breamish Valley.
Kielder Forest Park
Kielder Water and Forest Park is the perfect place for anyone who loves nature and being outdoors to let their hair down. It is home to Europe’s largest man-made lake – that is around 250 square miles in size – and England’s largest forest, so the possibilities for walking, cycling and water-based adventures are vast. Kielder Water and Forest Park is also a great place for wildlife and is home to around 50% of England’s native red squirrel population. To find out about everything that’s on offer, it’s best to start at one of the three visitor centres: Tower Knowe, Kielder Waterside or Kielder Castle.
"Kielder Water and Forest Park is also a great place for wildlife and is home to around 50% of England’s native red squirrel population."
The Lakeside Way is a 26-mile long, multi-user trail around Kielder Water which is suitable for walkers, young children, wheelchair users, cyclists and horse-riders. For thrills out on the lake, there’s sailing and water-skiing, whilst anglers come to fish for trout between March and October. Those wishing to discover wildlife can go in search of otters, several breeding pairs of Ospreys and there’s a project to build up the area’s diminished number of water voles. For stargazers there’s the Kielder Observatory, while the Belvedere shelter is an interesting piece of futuristic architecture and families will love the Minotaur Maze at Kielder Castle.