Best days out in Northumberland

The Best Days Out in Northumberland

Northumberland has everything, from incredible landscapes, amazing castles, and great local eateries to exciting events. Enjoy the county’s cultural activities, outdoor adventures, and unique places. Northumberland has hundreds of intriguing locations to see, but we all know holidays are always way too short. And so we’ve collated some of the best places to visit for a day out in Northumberland for the different types of travellers you are. Whether you are into history, are wildlife enthusiasts, astronomy lovers, or adventurous individuals, Northumberland is perfect and here are the best days out in Northumberland.

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Our most northerly county has lots of castles, some of which are complete with battlements and portcullis; others are mysterious ruins protecting glorious sandy beaches. The Farne Islands are must-see for history buffs, hikers, mountain bikers, and romantics alike. Northumberland has something for everyone, from walking along the seashore to exploring the vast and wild countryside. Then, when the day is done turn your eyes at night to view millions of stars penetrating Northumberland National Park’s famous black skies.  Here are Northumberland’s best days out.

The Best Days Out in Northumberland

The most memorable vacations in Northumberland are those spent packing the spirit of adventure and hitting the open road to discover the region. After all, this region has a truly fantastic collection of cultural assets. What will you choose for your day out in Northumberland?

Go to Holy Island for a day out in Northumberland

Holy Island, aka Lindisfarne, is a small tidal island off the coast of Northumberland in the northeast of England, a few kilometres south of the Scottish border to Scotland. Holy Island is reached by an ancient tidal causeway, so it is only accessible at certain points of the tide.  There are some great things to do on Holy Island, but if you’re just here for the day, then take your pick of these.

  • Lindisfarne Castle – One of the most visited places on Holy Island is Lindisfarne Castle. It was established in 1550 to protect the island against invasion from both the Scottish and the Vikings. Many of the rocks used during the construction of the building came from the earlier monastery, which had been abandoned.  The castle is managed by the National Trust, members can enter for free, otherwise, entry is £8.50 for adults and £4.25 for children.
  • Gertrude Jekyll’s Gardens – When visiting Lindisfarne Castle you can also explore the beautiful gardens planned by Gertrude Jekyll, a well-known landscape designer who constructed the area which previously functioned as the castle’s vegetable garden in 1911. The gardens are found close to the castle’s northern walls. Perennials, heritage vegetables, and annuals create a riot of colour in the summer and refuge of quiet throughout the year, paying homage to the original concept.
  • Holy Island Lime Kilns – Holy Island is also home to some of the most well-preserved lime kilns in Northumberland. The quick lime made here was used as a whitewash for masonry and as fertilizer for the surrounding fields.
  • Lindisfarne Priory – a place of pilgrimage for many over the centuries, the “Rainbow Arch,” is the most notable section of the priory ruins still remaining. You’ll see it after entering the grounds via the ruined west door of the Lindisfarne Priory, which is also located on the Holy Island. Although the tower above it collapsed over two centuries ago, this arch has remained standing. Lindisfarne Priory is managed by English Heritage and entry costs £8.10 for adults or £4.80 for children.  Members get in for free – and you can join here.
  • St. Aidan’s Winery – The St. Aidan’s Winery is located on Priory Lane, behind the Village Hall on Holy Island. It is an excellent place to experience local artisan products. Lindisfarne Wine, also known as Lindisfarne Mead, is an alcoholic fortified wine made on Lindisfarne from ripened white grapes, honey, herbs, and water collected from the island’s well. Mead has been produced and sold commercially in this region since 1962.
  • St. Mary Parish Church – The Parish Church of St Mary’s serves the whole island. In addition to having some remnants of the ancient Saxon church on site, the church also has a wooden sculpture portraying the transport of St Cuthbert’s coffin to Durham from Holy Island after Viking invasions.

If you plan on staying longer on Holy Island, then these are the best places to stay on Lindisfarne.

Have a day out in Bamburgh in Northumberland

Close to the northern border of Northumberland and on the North East coast, Bamburgh is a small community in a beautiful location. It is undeniably dominated by the magnificent Bamburgh Castle, which can be seen for miles around and which gives a dramatic mood to the whole area.  Don’t miss these fabulous things to do in Bamburgh.

  • Bamburgh Castle – Bamburgh Castle, which stands on a high cliff 45 meters above the town of Bamburgh, is one of England’s largest preserved castles and one of the country’s most spectacular monuments. Because the castle was designed to be impenetrable, the walls are up to 4 meters thick in certain places. The Armstrong family presently manages Bamburgh Castle, bought in 1894 by Victorian industrialist and weapons maker William Armstrong.
  • RNLI Grace Darling Museum – The Grace Darling Museum at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution honours a brave young woman who became famous as a result of her endeavours to save lives along with her lighthouse-keeper father. Details of Grace’s upbringing at the lighthouse are recounted in a museum and documentary that shows there, along with the rescue that made her a national heroine. To see where Grace and her father mounted the rescue take trip to Longstone Lighthouse from nearby Seahouses. (there’s more on what to do in Seahouses here)
  • St. Aidan’s Church – St Aidan’s Church commands an excellent site in Bamburgh. Whatever your religious beliefs are, it is well worth visiting just for its environment. Inside the church, there is also a statue of Grace Darling on display, as well as her tomb in the churchyard.
  • Bamburgh Beach – I’ll say it now.  You should come to Bamburgh for the beach alone.  It’s the best beach in the world.  Bar none. Many visit Bamburgh for the superb surfing conditions, which are regarded as some of the most consistent along the coast. Sand dunes, located behind the beach, are home to a vast diversity of vegetation and fauna, including some very rare insects. It is absolutely beautiful from whichever angle you choose to look at it. The coastline and the Farne Islands are also stunningly gorgeous from this vantage point. And of course, it’s overlooked by the glorious Bamburgh Castle too.

Spend more time than just a day out in Bamburgh – come for longer and stay at some of these fabulous places to stay in Bamburgh.

Visit Hadrian’s Wall on a day out in Northumberland

Hadrian’s Wall, which stretches 73 miles from the east coast to the west coast, was built to protect the Roman Empire’s wild north-west boundary against the marauding Scots. Explore the ruins of the forts, castles, turrets, and communities that once stood guard above the Wall. Discover what life was like for the men, women, and children on the outskirts of Roman Britain by viewing rare Roman artefacts, getting hands-on at museums, and taking in stunning views of the harsh countryside.  There’s more on the best places to see Hadrian’s Wall in our guide here.

There are more than 20 different Hadrian’s Wall locations, including Housesteads Roman Fort, Chesters Roman Fort, Corbridge Roman Town, and Birdoswald Roman Fort, which will help you to learn about the Wall’s rich history and magnificent nature. Here are some of the key areas to visit Hadrian’s Wall.

  • Housesteads Roman Fort – Housesteads Roman Fort was a massive infantry fort built along the route of Hadrian’s Wall until it was destroyed in World War II. It was garrisoned by a unit recruited from Belgium, and it was occupied for almost 300 years until being abandoned. As a result, it is the most intact of any Roman fort in the United Kingdom. It provides a unique glimpse into Roman military activities.
  • Corbridge Roman Town – In AD90, the (now) town of Corbridge was selected as the location for an enormous Roman fort intended to guard a bridge over the River Tyne. The museum displays items such as Roman armour and trinkets that were discovered with the Corbridge Hoard. The Hoard is among the most important archaeological discoveries in Roman history. It provided us with a remarkable glimpse into a warrior’s life on the Wall at the time of its discovery.
  • Chesters Roman Fort – Cilurnum is often regarded as the strongest Roman military fort along Hadrian’s Wall. It was located near the town of Cilurnum. The site is currently known as Chesters Roman, and it is maintained by English Heritage, which means that members get in for free.. All four of the fort’s main gates, as well as the headquarters and courtyard, as well as the hall, and regimental shrine, can still be seen today.
  • Birdoswald Roman Fort – Birdoswald is the location where you can view the longest remaining length of Hadrian’s Wall and significant remnants of a Roman fortress. Some most compelling evidence for this may be found in Birdoswald, where the succession of hall-type structures was discovered on the site of the Roman granaries.

Go to Howick Hall for a day out in Northumberland

Howick Hall Gardens will appeal massively to garden enthusiasts, and this is in a county with some stunning gardens to visit!. The gardens at Howick Hall are a plantsman’s paradise, with huge grounds containing a fantastic range of unique plants that bloom throughout the year. The forest garden is filled with wildflowers and creates a beautiful exhibit. The magnificent Howick Hall, that the gardens belong to, was formerly the residence of Lord Grey. He served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1830 to 1834. Also, at Howick Hall, you’ll find the origins of the famed Earl Grey tea mix, which was created just for the earl here.

Go to Northumberland National Park for a Day out in Northumberland

Northumberland National Park is the most northerly and remote of the 13 National Parks in England and Wales, and it’s also the least visited and least inhabited.

It is the place to some of the best tranquil hidden jewels, most isolated pathways, and most breathtaking natural wonders in the country. The peaceful landscapes of the park can be explored on hikes, bike riding, stargazing at night, and even watching wild Cheviot Goats.  There’s much, much more on things that you can do in Northumberland National Park in our guide here.

Go to the Beach for a day out in Northumberland

With miles of coastline, Northumberland has something to offer everyone. From vast sweeping bays that are great for brisk walks to secluded coves that become beautiful, if often windswept sunspots during the summer.   There’s more on Northumberland’s best beaches in our guide here, but here are 3 to get you out and about for the day in Northumberland.

Alnmouth Beach – Alnmouth beach is located on the north side of the River Aln.  And just beyond the beach, lies the charming tiny town of Alnmouth, where I spent many a summer day as a child. Generally speaking, swimming at Alnmouth beach is not encouraged. It is challenging (aka dangerous) at the river.

Embleton Bay – Embleton Bay is a long expanse of golden sand bordered by the towering remains of Dunstanburgh Castle, which provide a stunning backdrop. This is one of the most glorious and wild beaches in Northumberland to explore.

Beadnell Bay – Located south of the village of Beadnell, this broad beach is a horseshoe-shaped bay with clear water. The beach itself is a popular site for swimming and various water activities such as surfing, sailing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing.

Have a day out at Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland

Kielder Water & Woodland Park, which includes England’s largest forest and the largest man-made lake in Europe, is a paradise for bikers, hikers, and outdoor lovers. Wildlife abounds, and the area boasts some of the greatest dark skies in England. Kielder is also the most significant red squirrel reserve in England. Kielder is a fabulous place to come for a day out – or longer.  There’s more on what to do in Kielder in our guide here, and if you’re planning on staying longer, then you’ll want to book one of these gorgeous places to stay in Kielder.

Go to Alnwick for a day out in Northumberland

Alnwick is one of the loveliest market towns around.  There’s lots to do in Alnwick, a day won’t be enough, but if that’s all the time you have then head for the Castle.  Alnwick Castle is among the most beautiful and historically significant castles in the country. Of course, it also helped local tourism that Alnwick Castle was made (even more) famous with the Harry Potter movies, starring as Hogwarts.  You’ll also find the world’s biggest Treehouse, green spaces, poison garden, rose garden, and amazing water sculptures at Alnwick Garden.

Go to Cragside in Northumberland for a day out

Cragside is a glorious Arts and Crafts House, the first to be powered by hydroelectricity. Lord William and Lady Margaret Armstrong were responsible for the building of Cragside and they created a truly pioneering house.  As well as the house, the garden here is stunning.  It’s one of the top Northumberland gardens to see (there’s more here), but you should make time to see:

The Formal Garden – a south-facing three-acre plot of land that overlooks the Coquet Valley, this garden is divided into three levels, this spectacular garden has been meticulously restored to match the original arrangement of Lord and Lady Armstrong’s design.

The Pinetum takes advantage of great growing conditions for coniferous trees and there are some glorious examples of pines from all over the world here.

Go to the Farne Islands for a Day out in Northumberland

The Farne Islands are located just off the coast of Seahouses and you should make a beeline for these beautiful islands.  Boat trips to the Farne Islands are one of the best things to do in Seahouses and they’re stunning.  Sir David Attenborough says that the Farne Islands are his favourite place in the United Kingdom to view wildlife – and you can see plentiful birdlife, seals and puffins, depending on the time of year that you visit.

Visit a Castle on a Day out in Northumberland

We have more than our fair share of castles in Northumberland – and you can read more about Northumberland’s top castles here, but here are my four favourite castles to visit on a day out in Northumberland.

Warkworth Castle – Sitting high above the River Coquet, Warkworth Castle is stunning and a glorious place to visit.  The castle has remains from the 13th century, a gatehouse from the 15th century and really is a rather magnificent ruin, with some well-maintained areas. You’ll want to also see the cross-shaped keep and take the boat trip up to the Hermitage.

Bamburgh Castle – Bamburgh Castle stands above my favourite beach in the entire world and overlooks the pretty village of Bamburgh.  There’s heaps to see at this castle, and you will need a lot of the day to see it!

Dunstanburgh Castle – The ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle are gloriously romantic and I say that even after having broken my wrist here!  (Watch for the uneven ground!) You should explore the gatehouse and climb to the top of the tower for spectacular views of the jagged coastline.

Lindisfarne Castle – Holy Island’s Lindisfarne Castle is a masterpiece. It was initially built as a temporary fortress for troops before being converted into a private residence after 1901. It’s imposing, stark and really rather beautiful.

Go to Berwick upon Tweed for a Day out in Northumberland

Berwick Upon Tweed, Northumberland’s most northern town, lies barely 3 miles from the Scottish border and is a great place for a Northumberland day out. Make sure you start a visit to Berwick with a walk around the town’s Elizabethan walls, explore the (very) ruined castle and spend time in the Barracks.  Don’t miss the Berwick Cockles…

Travel Tips for Exploring Northumberland

Final Words on the best days out in Northumberland

It’s hard to condense everything that you can do in Northumberland into a few words.  And harder still to pick just a few things to see in a day.  We have amazing castles, glorious beaches, wonderful gardens, islands, lakes, and some of the darkest skies in the country.  One day won’t be enough, so you’ll just have to stay longer!   I hope this guide to some of the best day trip ideas in Northumberland.  So come visit Northumberland and tell me how much you love it!

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