Things to do in the area
Northumberland is a large and inspirational County. Whether you want history, castles, beaches, geology, archaeology, wide-open spaces or busy shopping streets - here are some ideas for places a little further afield. We also have pages with ideas for things to do close to home, and things to do without the car which you might want to check out.. A trip to The Farne Islands or Holy Island has its own page!
First - a map: you can click-and-drag the map around to see different parts of it, and you can use the + and - icons to zoom in and out. You can also view the map in its own web page if you click here.
Lilac pins = Castles, Houses etc Blue = Pubs, Shops etc, Sand = Towns, Places, Beaches etc
Secondly - you can quickly jump further down this page beyond the map for more of our ideas!
Explore our local area in a larger map
Dunstanburgh Castle is our favourite castle-walk, and it's also one of the most dramatic, iconic and hauntingly beautiful ruins you will ever see. Approached on foot, from the north (quiet walking) or south (busy in high season). It makes a good all-day walk by taking the bus to Craster and walking home. Along the way you pass the bird hides at Newton Pools, and its a delightful place to pause for a while, and see what's happening on the water - before moving on to the Ship at Low Newton for lunch!
Preston Tower (01665 589227) is an intriguing Border Pele Tower, open to the public without a lot of hype and spin...
Craster is a pretty harbour village, a famous starting point for the walk to Dunstanburgh.
Howick Hall is the family seat of Earl Grey, who was Prime minister from 1830 to 1834, and also the home of Earl Grey tea. Howick Hall Gardens has been rated by the BBC Gardener's World Magazine as one of the top 5 coastal gardens in the country. The tea-room is nice too. Only a small part of the hall is accessible, which is the tea-room, but this is a great day out!
Warkworth Castle and Hermitage (English Heritage: 01665 711423) is well worth a visit.
Alnwick Castle (01665 510777) is the medieval family home of the Duke of Northumberland and the film location for Harry Potter's Hogwarts School.
Alnwick Garden (01665 511350) - Now a large visitor attraction, and vision of the Duchess of Northumberland - The Alnwick Garden is gardening on a grand scale, and it's something you have to do...
Alnwick is a pretty town about 20 minutes drive away (or you can take the bus from the corner, ten steps up the road). If you're going there, you must visit Barter Books which is one of the largest second-hand bookshops in the country. It's based in the old railway station, with waiting (now reading) room, a lovely cafe, a model railway tootling around above your head, open fires and very cheap coffee. It's a great place to visit - and is unsurpassed as a rainy day option. Bookworms beware: this place is seriously addictive, and may damage your wealth.
Chillingham Castle ( 01668 215359) is a charming, rustic, non-polished castle which is very endearing. You can also visit the rare, unusual and famous Chillingham Wild Cattle whilst you're out that way. Our then-petulant-teenagers visited with great protests - and came back raving about them.
The Chain Bridge Honey Farm sits at the the English end of the historic chain bridge across the Tweed at Horncliffe, which is well worth a visit in its own right. The Honey Farm has a great visitor centre which tells the honey & bee story, and you can watch the bees at work. Willy Robson has been such a great help in getting our own St Cuthbert's House bees settled here in the village. They have a double-decker bus for a tearoom, and a London bus and lots of other vintage vehicles pootling about.
If you're going up that way, you might want to visit the fortified town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. which has changed hands between the English & Scots thirteen times - the last time in 1513. A walk around the Eliabethan Walls is a must. If you really want to get to know about the town's turbulent and colourful history, we thoroughly recommend a guided walk in the company of Derek Sharman of 'Time to Explore'. He is expert and friendly - and his walks cost just a few pounds, but really open you up to things you would otherwise be oblivious to. Derek also does a guided walk of Bamburgh at 6pm on Sundays too - well worth doing.
Also based in Berwick is our friend and thoroughly good chap Dr Ian Kille who is an expert in all things geological. Until we went out with him on one of his guided gelogy-walks from Craster, I had little idea just how fascinating, distinctive and jolly-well interesting the geology of this coastline is - with the starring role being played by the Whin Sill. Ian does guided walks throughout the season, and will also take you out on your own if you want his undivided attention. And as if that doesn't make him enough of a clever-clogs, Ian is also an expert potter! He offers tuition in his small studio near Berwick.
If you went a few miles further north from Berwick, you can cross the Scottish border and easily visit the spectacular coastline around St Abb's and Coldingham, as well as the harbour town of Eyemouth.
Wooler is a pretty little market town, with one or two interesting shops and a nice teashop. It’s the gateway to the Cheviots, and you can walk (a long way) or drive (not very far) into the hills from there, exploring several of the valleys which probe into the hills.
Paxton House is a Scottish Palladian mansion built in 1758, beautifully preserved and gloriously situated on the banks of the Tweed. It’s about 45 mins away. A visit to Paxton combines well with a visit to Berwick, and the Honey Farm.
Flodden Field is one of the best preserved battlefields in the whole of northern Europe, and the remarkable and historic battle which took place there in 1513 shaped the nation we live in today. No really, it did! Go and discover the story.
Heatherslaw Mill and Lady Waterford Hall, Ford (01890 820338) are on the Ford & Etal Estate, and in fact there’s lots more to do on the Estate too. You can go for a ride on their miniature steam railway; visit a traditional joiner’s shop, a thatched pub, an Antiques centre and a nice tea shop in the Post Office! There are lovely waymarked footpaths, an off-road cycle route, and two castles to photograph too… It is also home to Northumberland’s only thatched pub. Ford & Etal Estate makes for a lovely day out. But the highlight, for us, is Lady Waterford Hall; we send lots of guests, and many of them say it was the most delightful discovery of their stay.
We have two modern and very nice leisure centres in neighbouring towns - The Swan Centre in Berwick and Willowburn Sports & Leisure Centre in Alnwick. They each have a good swimming pool, squash courts, badminton courts and gym.
Duddo Stones have been described by one website devoted to megalithic monuments as 'one of the most attractive mouments in Britain'. They're the Northumbrian stonehenge.
Cragside House (National Trust) was the first house in the world to have hydroelectric powered lighting. It has recently reopened after extensive renovation work. This is a 'must see' place. The house is beautiful, and so are the grounds, with a scenic drive and 40 miles of footpaths. You should have a look around Rothbury whilst you're over there.
Just 11 miles further on from Cragside is Wallington Hall, another National Trust gem, especially for gardeners.
This is a lovely route to Hadrian's Wall, a World Heritage Site, which makes a great day out. Their are a number of Roman sites and forts to explore inlcuding Birdoswald and Housesteads, and Vindolanda has stone tablets which have been designated - by the British Museum no less - as Britain's 'most important treasure', because of the insight they give us into social history of the time. Really.
If you're after a dose of the city, a day in Newcastle is very easy. Bus, train or drive.
Floors Castle in Kelso is the home of the Duke of Roxburgh.
Thirlestane Castle near Lauder in the Scottish Borders has played an important part in Scotland's history.
Mellerstain House is one of the finest country houses anywhere in Scotland.
Manderston House is a besutiful Edwardian mansion, and has the only solid siver staircase in the world!
It's easy to have a day trip to Edinburgh, either by train or car.
If Golf is your thing, you're spoilt for choice, with several super local courses to play, each with its own special backdrop of coast and castle. If you'd like someone else to take care of the detail for you, you might be interested in the packages which Alnwick Golf Breaks offer. If you'd rather put your own itinerary together, here are the local courses:
Seahouses Golf Club
Bamburgh Castle Golf Club
Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club
Goswick Golf Club
Alnmouth Golf Club
Alnmouth Village Golf Club
Warkworth Golf Club
The Northumbria Community - a Christian Community drawing inspiration from the Celtic Saints - has its base about 20 minutes from here. You can usually be assured of a warm welcome, a cup of tea and good chat if you want to call by.