Late Afternoon Light Illuminates The Castle And Beach At Bamburg

Things to do in Northumberland

With vast sandy beaches, wildlife-rich islands and the Northumberland National Park, Northumberland is an excellent choice if you like natural beauty and moments of relative seclusion. Add to that historic landmarks such as Hadrian’s Wall and some of the best stargazing to be had in Europe and you have the perfect recipe for discovery and adventure. Here are our picks of the best things to do in Northumberland.

Feeling inspired? When you are ready to book your stay, choose from our handpicked collection of Northumberland luxury cottages.

A single tree with a stone wall

Hadrian’s Wall

The Romans built Hadrian’s Wall to protect the Roman Empire in northern England and it spans 73 miles from coast to coast, passing through Northumberland National Park.

Today, Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is fantastic to incorporate into a walking holiday in Northumberland. The county has the longest stretch of the wall and it traverses through stunning countryside. Hike long distance sections, walk shorter circular routes, or cycle.

For history-lovers there are Roman forts, temples and bath houses to discover. Make sure to visit Sycamore Gap too. This striking, lone tree stands next to Hadrian’s Wall and featured in the film, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

Housesteads Roman Fort In Northumberland

Housesteads Roman Fort

As the Roman Empire’s best-preserved outpost in northern Europe, Hadrian’s Wall is hard to beat when it comes to delving into England’s Roman past. Amongst the ancient ruins and archaeological treasures is Housesteads Roman Fort, one of the best examples of a permanent base along the wall.

It offers a fascinating insight into Roman military life and excavations have unearthed a turreted wall, barracks, a hospital, a commander’s house and communal toilets. It is thought that around 800 soldiers were stationed here.

Wander at leisure, take a guided tour, visit the museum and be sure to admire the incredible panoramic views from the fort’s elevated position.

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle, in the medieval town of Alnwick, dates to the Norman era. For over seven centuries it has been the home of the Percy Family, the Dukes of Northumberland.

Alnwick Castle has been used as a military outpost, a college and a home for evacuees, and today is open to tourists. Discover more about the castle’s history on a guided tour and why not try your hand at archery too?

In addition, if you are a Harry Potter fan, learning how to fly a broomstick in the spot where the boy wizard himself took flight is lots of fun. Alnwick Castle was used as a set for the first two Harry Potter films.

Bamburgh Castle on Northumberland coast

Bamburgh Castle and Beach

Dominating the skyline at Bamburgh Beach is Bamburgh Castle, an iconic landmark that has stood for more than 1,400 years. Once an important stronghold in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, today it is home to the Armstrong family.

Learn more about the kings that lived here, visit the beautiful state rooms and the armoury, and hear tales of ghosts, myths and legends.

Meanwhile, the beach is a beautiful, long stretch of white sand. It’s a fabulous place for walks and is one of Northumberland’s most dog-friendly beaches. It’s also great for surfing and kite-surfing. However, one of the best things to do with kids is explore the rockpools by the lighthouse.

Things to do in Northumberland

Explore the Sand Dunes and Beaches

Many Northumberland beaches have plenty of space, so you can usually find a spot to enjoy, pretty much to yourself, even in the summer.

Many also provide important habitats, such as sand dunes, for wildlife. Northumberland has one of the longest semi-continuous stretches of dune coast in the UK. This is one of the reasons the Northumberland Coast is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Some of the best coastal areas that combine dunes and beaches are Bamburgh Dunes (flanking the beach described above) and Annstead Dunes, between Beadnell and Seahouses. Stick to designated areas and viewing platforms to enjoy the flora and fauna.

Puffin In Flight

Farne Islands

A couple of miles off the coast of Seahouses are the Farne Islands. The islands are a National Nature Reserve and an important breeding ground for thousands of seabirds, including puffins. The Farne Islands are also home to a colony of grey seals and hundreds of pups are born here every autumn.

Hermits and monks such as St Cuthbert, soldiers, lighthouse keepers and sometimes shipwrecked sailors have all lived on the island. Historic highlights include a medieval chapel and a Victorian lighthouse on Inner Farne.

The islands can be visited from March to October and boats depart from the harbour at Seahouses. You must buy a ticket for the crossing from one of the boat companies, plus an island ticket from the National Trust.

Holy Island Of Lindisfarne, Northumberland

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne, known as Holy Island, is a place of mystery and intrigue. This tidal island can be accessed by foot or car via a causeway. However, it is cut off twice a day, so, it is essential that you check tide times before you start your journey. Boat trips are also available from Seahouses.

As you make the crossing, the views are spectacular and when you arrive at the island there is a surprising amount to see and do. Visit Lindisfarne Priory, Lindisfarne Castle and St Aidan’s Winery where you can sample Lindisfarne Mead.

Holy Island is also a fantastic place to absorb the serenity and explore at your leisure on a walk. There is a handful of cafes, pubs and shops too.

Warkworth Castle In Warkworth, Northumberland

Warkworth Castle

Pretend to be the king or queen of Warkworth Castle and survey views of your kingdom across the River Coquet and the coast. This medieval fortress played a key part in the war between the English and Scots.

The castle was once home to the powerful Dukes of Northumberland, the Percy family. Amongst them was the legendary knight nicknamed ‘Harry Hotspur,’ who was a major character in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1.

Explore the towers and rooms of the cross-shaped keep, before visiting the hermitage. Thought to be the Percys’ private chapel, the hermitage is accessed via a half-mile walk and a boat trip across the river.

Kielder National Park

Kielder Forest

Kielder Water and Forest Park is home to Europe’s largest man-made lake and England’s largest forest. Whether it’s walking, cycling or water sports that interests you, there are plenty of adventures to be had.

The Lakeside Way winds its way around Kielder Water and is suitable for walkers, young children, pushchairs, wheelchair users, cyclists and horse-riders. Meanwhile, there’s sailing and water-skiing available on the lake.

Meanwhile, if you like to spot wildlife, keep your eyes peeled for otters, red squirrels, ospreys and water voles, that all live in the park.

Kielder Observatory, Northumberland

Kielder Observatory

Kielder Water and Forest Park is home to Kielder Observatory, a superb place to visit if you are interested in stargazing. Situated in a gold-tiered protected dark sky park, there isn’t any light pollution and on clear nights the stars can be amazing.

During the day, you can walk up to the observatory and enjoy the views, but access is for ticket holders only. Tickets can be purchased for a host of events from family-friendly activities, an introduction to the night sky and specific events focusing on the moon or constellations for example.

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