Top attractions of Northumberland
Northumberland is a great choice for a touring holiday with your motorhome, caravan or tent as there are plenty of attractions to be seen. From interesting history and Roman ruins, to isolated islands and dramatic natural beauty, there's nothing like Northumberland ...
1 Hadrians Wall
Quite possibly the most famous of Northumberland's attractions, this Roman monument offers something for everyone, not least the miles of walking and cycling routes following the wall across country. Vindolanda, near Hexham (01434 344277) is one of Europe's most important Roman archaeological sites, with live excavations every year. Vindolanda was a frontier fort and village and you can walk around the Roman site and also visit the musuem (01697 747485), which contains hundreds of artefacts and a wealth of information. Housesteads, at Haydon Bridge, is the ruins of an ancient fortess with stunning views from its elevated position. You can wander the remains of the barracks and the commandant's house and also visit the museum.
- Hadrian's Wall Trust 01434 609700. Adult joint entry price for Vindolanda & Musuem £10.00. Adult entry price for Housteads £6.00.
2 Cragside House, Gardens and Estate, Morpeth
Enter the world of Lord Armstrong - a Victorian inventor, innovator and landscape master. Cragside was the first house in the world to be lit by electricity, and is crammed full of ingenious gadgets, most of which still work. The gardens need exploring too – one of the largest rock gardens in Europe leads down to the Iron Bridge which then leads to the formal garden. Children will love exploring the labyrinth of paths and tunnels cut out of an area of rhododendron forest and also the adventure play area.
- Cragside House 01669 620333. Adult entry price £13.80.
3 The Farne Islands
Accessible only by boat, the Farne Islands lie three miles off the coast between Seahouses and Bamburgh Castle. The islands are home to perhaps the most impressive seabird colony in England, with 23 species incuding around 37,000 pairs of puffins. They are also home to a large grey seal colony with more than 1000 pups born every autumn. There's a medieval tower and Victorian lighthhouse too, along with a visitor centre. Various boat trips are offered from the harbour at Seahouses, including trips for a few hours to all day bird watching tours.
- The Farne Islands 01665 720651. Adult entry price £6.40.
4 Kielder Water & Forest Park
Kielder is home to the great outdoors. Not only do you have the largest man-made lake in Europe but also miles of forest park to explore. A day is simply not long enough, and there is something here for all the family. Various sculptures are dotted along walkways and there are always events and activities on at Leaplish Waterside Park. You can fish, take part in water sports, ride a horse, view the stars at Kielder Observatory, visit the salmon centre and the Kielder Birds of Prey Centre. There are sporting activities, an indoor pool and sauna, adventure playground and restaurant and bar. To help you make the most of your visit there are three visitor centres, Tower Knowe (0845 155 0236), Leaplish (01434 251000) and Kielder Castle (01434 250209).
- Kielder Water & Forest Park 01434 220616 (Bellingham Tourist Information).
5 Barter Books, Alnwick
This is one of the largest secondhand bookshops in Britain, but with some rather special features. For starters the bookshop is housed in Alnwick's old Victorian railway station. When you enter, you're stepping into another world, and history. The building has been lovingly restored – the canopy outside has been re-exposed, fireplaces put back into working order and rooms redecorated. The shop has many extra features too: open fires, a buffet with food, coffee, tea and cookies, a model railway, poetry lines and three stunning 40-foot murals. There's generous seating, a children's room and the warmest of welcomes to stay awhile and browse the hundreds of books on sale.
- Barter Books 01665 604888. Open daily 9am-7pm (summer), 9am-5pm (winter)
6 Northumberland National Park
Here, dramatic hills and sheltered valleys stretch from Hadrian's Wall to the Scottish border and a whole host of things to do are available. Walkers will love the open fells, the wild forests and peaceful waters, and cyclists and horse riders can enjoy the challenging moorland routes and the freedom of the vast open space. You can fish, rock climb, and star gaze to your heart's content. There are picturesque villages within the National Park, offering a cosy respite in a cafe or country pub, and in the market towns of places like Haltwhistle and Bellingham you will find local shops, home-made food and interesting gifts.
- Northumberland National Park 01434 605555. National Park Visitor Centre at Once Brewed, Hexham (01434 344396).
7 Woodhorn, Museum and Northumberland Archives
If you fancy a taste of Northumberland's history and mining heritage then this is the place for you. Based in old colliery buildings with a stunning new building inspired by the coal cutting machines that were once used underground, Woodhorn has interactive display which paint a picture of life in this former mining community. Visitors can learn about the lives of miners and their families and explore the old colliery buildings. The Northumberland archives has everything from old maps and photographs to church records – spanning 800 years of history.
- Woodhorn, Museum & Northumberland Archives 01670 624455. Free entry.
Craster is a quaint village with harbour that is a famous as the home of the Craster Kipper – a smoked fish which is exported to food lovers across the country. The local kippers are smoked in a traditional oak-smoking process by the Robson family. Robson & Sons's shop in the village also has a restaurant, so you can sample some of the delicious smoked kippers and salmon and take some back home with you. The village and harbour make for a nice place to walk around and, if you fancy a longer route, a coastal path runs from Craster to the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, one and a half miles away.
- Craster Tourist Information 01665 576007.
Thinking of visiting Northumberland?
Check out our pick of the best beaches, here.
Read all about Northumberland's magical castles, here.