Northumbria is often described as ‘The Forgotten Kingdom’ which we believe has come about due to its location. Sitting between Durham, Cumbria and Scotland, Northumberland does seem to be a place between better known places that visitors are on their way to and as a result holiday makers seem to either pass through or not quite get as far as, depending on their plans!
However, once discovered, Northumbria quickly becomes a best kept secret as travellers make it their quiet ‘go to’ destination for a break in the UK and find themselves returning time and again.
So, for those unfamiliar with what’s on offer, here are our top 10 things we love about Northumbria!
• The wide open wind swept beaches!
All along the Northumbrian coast you will find wide open, wind -swept, sandy beaches some secluded and others well known. Whether you come for a walk or to spend some time with a picnic and a good book, you will find you are never far from a wonderful beach providing a wonderful backdrop to your day.
• The Historical Landscape
Northumbria comes well packaged with a long and interesting history dating back to the Vikings and Romans. Whether you are into walking a section of Hadrian’s Wall or looking for pilgrims on St. Cuthbert’s Way you are never far from a place of historical interest.
• The Dark Skies
Due to low population and very low light pollution Northumberland has very dark skies across the county and offers star gazing from where you are stood or should you wish to see and learn more there are 3 observatories that you can visit for an up close experience. On a clear night you will be able to see a vast star field as well as The Milky Way and Andromeda which is 3.5 million light years away. Observatories can be found at Kielder, Battlesteads, Stonehaugh and Twice Brewed. Northumberland is now regarded as one of the most successful dark shy destinations in the world.
• The people
One thing you will come across every day are very warm and friendly locals who are genuinely interested in your stay and will often offer local knowledge to enhance your stay.
• The wildlife
Due to the varied landscape Northumbria offers coast, countryside, forest and woodlands as well as moorland, rivers and streams which are home to dozens of wild animals, insects, birds and fish who live there. If you are very lucky you might see anything from dolphins and seals to red squirrels as well as puffins and more recently otters have been spotted on the banks of the River Coquet.
• The large variety of things to do
You will not be short in finding activities for the whole family here. Many of them are sporty like golf, horse riding , cycling or surfing but there are so many more to be considered- you can do axe throwing, a high ropes course, caving and rock pooling, body boarding or canoeing. For those looking for retail therapy towns like Alnwick and Morpeth provide a wonderful variety of independent shops and businesses and villages like Warkworth and Felton have small art galleries and homemade craft shops. For foodies there are tiny coffee shops and cafes as well as many pubs cafés and restaurants with locally produced and food and drink.
• The A697
If you fancy a road trip with a road to nowhere in particular I can think of no better than the A697 which can be accessed from either the A1 at Morpeth or from the B6341 which runs from the centre of Alnwick town out towards Rothbury and is in itself a mini road trip taking in spectacular views over towards the Cheviots spanning many miles of wonderful open countryside.
The A697 will take you into Scotland if you wish to go that far and offers some of the most diverse and interesting countryside and views while also cutting through small towns and villages en route where you will find country pubs for lunch or bite to eat while you discuss what you have enjoyed and plan where to go next. It’s an easy drive and the road is usually quiet and not used as an easy access route into Scotland. It’s really worth taking the time to enjoy this wonderful part of the country from the comfort of your car.
• 40 miles of amazing coastline in an AONB
The Northumbrian coastline runs for 40 miles from Berwick on Tweed to Coquet Estuary. Situated to the east of the A1 you will find small towns and villages with a variety of shops, cafes, pubs and small local attractions to dip into to make your time interesting. The coastline offers wonderful views over the Sea to Holy Island and Lindisfane as well as a spectacular amount of dunes to explore and have fun in. there are outcrops of rocks which provide excellent rock-pooling as well as lighthouses and castles. This unique area of coastline really does have something for everyone.
• Barter Books
I would go as far as to say that Barter Books is unmissable and if you are thinking that not much fun can be found at a 2nd hand bookshop then you would be very wrong! Housed within the old Victorian Station at Alnwick, Barter Books is a real treat for the senses. Step back in time as you wander the shelves delving into books of any age. Take time to explore the station and have a coffee in the old waiting room café which has a wonderful family friendly menu and offers lunches, cake and coffee and has a licence for a cheeky beer or glass of wine. There is no charge to go in and in the winter there are open log fires and settees to enjoy some quiet time for flicking through the pages of an old book. There is also a new ice cream bar within the station for a treat. Highly recommend!!
• Food and drink
Whatever you fancy you will find it here from fresh crab sandwiches, oysters and kippers or hand -made gelato you will find it here. With so many places to visit you will find cafés bistros and tearooms offering cream teas, home- made cakes and bakes everywhere you go. There are farm shops where can buy local meats, cheeses and gins to take home. For evening meals there are too many fine family restaurants to mention as well as a good number of takeaways for food to go!
You are truly spoilt for choice and won’t be disappointed.