Rothbury is a lovely town in Northumberland, with a lively main street, an assortment of unique restaurants, and various events throughout the year. While Rothbury has a relatively calm and unremarkable history, it definitely has a long one! Rothbury was founded as a market town in 1291 and served as the principal hub for selling livestock and wool for all the neighbouring communities. It also grew in importance in the Coquet Valley as a crossroads on the ford, linking the main roads between Newcastle upon Tyne, Alnwick, Hexham, and Morpeth. If you want a taste of Northumbrian town life blended with rural adventure, this is the place to go. So, here’s our guide to the top things to do in Rothbury.
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The Best Things to do in Rothbury
Rothbury, known locally as the Capital of Coquetdale, is a historic Northumbrian market town constructed on a sandstone slope. It has a beautiful selection of small shops and various art galleries, tea houses, cafés, and bars. It has been a local centre since the 13th century, with a castle, a market, and a magistrate’s court at different periods in its history. The nearby Cragside House and Gardens, home of Lord Armstrong, is the area’s most well-known attraction.
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Visit Brinkburn Priory in Rothbury
This stunning 12th-century priory, set away in the woods, is one of the outstanding representations of early gothic architecture. The stunning stained-glass windows alone are worth a visit, much alone the William Hill organ and antique carved masonry. It’s a sight to see. The grounds around the priory are ideal for tranquil picnics, and the river is worth a visit — otters have been seen playing on the riverbanks. You can access Brinkburn Priory for free as members of English Heritage – join here.
The Augustinian Priory of Brinkburn is located on the B6344, about four and a half miles east of Rothbury. William Bertram founded it between 1130 and 1135. The site is exceedingly lovely, accessible through a ten-minute steep walk from the car parking lot. English Heritage manages the Priory, which, together with the neighbouring manor house, has recently been renovated. You can find opening times for Brinkburn Priory here.
Go Fishing in Rothbury
Rothbury is a great location for keen fishermen. First of all, the River Coquet flows through the village itself and the surrounding areas, with portions of the Coquet being declared a fishery of national significance. The Coquet is a popular and lovely spot to fish with both Salmon and Sea Trout streams. The season for salmon runs from the 1st of February to the 31st of October each year; however, due to a ‘catch and release’ bylaw, any salmon captured before the 16th of June must be released. The Red Grouse Gallery (15 Bridge Street, Rothbury) and the Post Office are where you can purchase fishing permits and rod licenses in Rothbury.
Park at the Riverside, drive through Warkworth village and turn left at the village shops to reach the River Coquet. Continue beyond St. Lawrence’s Church. There is plenty of free parking and picnic tables.
Visit Cragside near Rothbury
Cragside, located about a mile outside of Rothbury, is massive in terms of area and history. The estate’s splendour is evident upon entrance, with the visitor centre located magnificently across from the lake. Once you’ve parked (and there’s lots of space available) I suggest making your first stop the Visitor’s Centre. It’s technically in the opposite direction to the main house. Still, you’ll learn more about the grounds and history there, which will help you appreciate the house and gardens even more. There’s also a National Trust Shop, a cafe, and restrooms. While there are restrooms in the main house courtyard, if you plan on taking a long stroll around the grounds, you may want to take advantage of this chance to use the facilities! Cragside is managed by the National Trust and members can get in for free. There are details here.
Cragside is a fabulous places to visit on a day out, there’s more inspiration for days out in Northumberland here.
Play Golf at Rothbury
Rothbury Golf Course is a lovely 18-hole course located in the heart of Northumberland’s Coquet Valley, only a short walk from the ancient town of Rothbury. Rothbury is an excellent family course featuring difficult but not intimidating golf for both men and women and blue tees for juniors. The club has a rich history and a beautiful system, which runs along the southwest edge of town and provides panoramic views of the gorgeous landscape. It is more than an acceptable test of golf skill, and whether you are a high or low handicapper, you will find something of interest here. Check green fees for Rothbury Golf Cub here.
Where to Eat in Rothbury
There’s no need to go further afield to eat after either a long travel day or a long day of exploring Rothbury and her surroundings. Whether you want a quick break between activities, a long leisurely lunch or an evening meal there are some great options here. Here are our top 3 Restaurants in Rothbury.
Eat at the Turks Head, Rothbury
Rothbury has a lovely restaurant called The Turks Head, they have one of the best tasting Sunday roasts around. Their turkey roast is melt in the mouth and the gravy here is fabulous!
- Cuisine type: British, Bar, Pub
- Special Diets: Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available.
Eat at Newcastle House Restaurant, Rothbury
Newcastle House Restaurant is found on Front Street in Rothbury and it’s one of the best places to eat in Rothbury. There’s a friendly, yet peaceful ambience here at the Newcastle House Restaurant and some great food.
- Cuisine: British, Bar, Pub
- Special Diets: Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten-Free Options
Eat at La Mensa, Rothbury
La Mensa is an Italian restaurant in Town Foot, Rothbury. You’ll find authentic traditional Italian cuisine at La Mensa. It’s well-seasoned and freshly prepared, with local and imported ingredients loyal to traditional Italian recipes. The presentation is elegant, but without.
- Cuisine: Italian
- Special Diets: Vegan and vegetarian options
The best beaches to visit near Rothbury
Many visitors to Northumberland come for the beaches. It’s certainly the home of my favourite beach in the entire world. While Rothbury is located inland, several fantastic beaches within a short drive may provide a great day on the beach for a little beach time! Here are a few of the top beaches close to Rothbury.
Amble Links Beach, Amble
Sand, rock, and shingle beach backed by cliffs near Amble Harbour and Marina. Bird watchers and seaside hikers flock here, and dogs are allowed. This is also a great beach for families – the rock pools are great here for exploring. Amble Links Beach is located on the North Northumberland Heritage Coast, close to the Northumberland Coast Path.
Bamburgh Beach, Bamburgh
This is a wonderful beach with its famous background of the castle and distant glimpses of Lindisfarne and the Farne Islands. And yes, this is my favourite beach in the entire world. Despite the weather. It’s fun to hike down to Seahouses but keep an eye out for high tides. This beach, to me, is beautiful all year. Whether it’s winter or summer, rain or shine, the beach is ideal for dog walking. There’s more to do in Bamburgh in our guide here.
Seahouses Beach, Seahouses
Seahouses is located on the Northumberland coast, about halfway between Bamburgh Castle and Beadnell. (Did you read our guide about the best things to do in Seahouses?) The long, gently sloping sandy beach that stretches north of the port is flanked by low, grassy dunes and has several rocky outcrops. This is an excellent place to visit if you like peace and wide-open spaces. The water quality is excellent, and the beach is popular with birdwatchers, sea anglers, and hikers. The Farne Islands can be seen in the distance on clear days.
Alnmouth Beach, Alnmouth
Alnmouth beach is located in a broad sandy harbour near the mouth of the Aln River. It was a favourite childhood haunt of mine. Alnmouth is a charming tiny village on the north side of the river, behind the beach, with a cluster of magnificent, red-roofed buildings that practically flows down to the shore.
You’d be just as delighted if you came to build sandcastles as if you came to ride around the coastline on horseback. (I’ve done both in my time!) Swimming at Alnmouth is not usually advised, and it is especially dangerous at the estuary mouth with a falling tide. There are signs warning against even paddling at the river’s mouth.
Best Walks around Rothbury
Rothbury is ideal for getting out and about on foot, with its gorgeous walking trails, charming riverbanks, and lively town street. The River Coquet runs through town, providing a calm haven for nature and animals that flourish on its banks. It runs through the Coquet Valley, which offers a lovely blend of wild meadows and moorland for you to enjoy. Walkers come here to go away into the bush and take in the scenery. Here are two walks that you should do during your visit to Rothbury.
Walk along the Rothbury riverside
This route is highly popular with families with children of all ages since it’s accessible with prams and buggies. You may make this walk as long or as short as you want and beginning at the Carhaugh car park in Rothbury makes it convenient. Along the way, you’ll be able to see the town’s yellow sandstone buildings and the historic bridge as well as keeping an eye out for the ducks that hang around here. There are several cafés along the river where you can get a hot drink or snack, or you may pack a nice picnic and locate a sunny area to enjoy it in.
Fontburn Reservoir Walks near Rothbury
The Fontburn Reservoir is about a 15-minute drive from Rothbury and is a great spot to stretch your legs! Despite being near the town, you’re also in the middle of nowhere, with farmland and woods all around you. A 3.5-mile round walk around the reservoir might take up to 2 hours if you take it slow, but the trail is easy. The ground is mostly grass or bark. There are several picnic tables located along the trail and there are hot drinks and food available most weekends and holidays. All of this, along with the new play area, which includes a flying fox and a climbing frame, provides a fun day out, especially if you bring the kids.
How to Get to Rothbury
Rothbury is easily accessible by local bus services. Morpeth is the closest train station and it’s also easy to drive to Rothbury.
How to Get to Rothbury by Car
Travelling to Rothbury by car is a stunning trip. Whatever your approach to Rothbury, you will be surrounded by gorgeous views. The B6341 is an enjoyable route if you come from the north through Alnwick. This route winds through Alnwick Moor, Edlingham, Cragside House, and Gardens, and provides breathtaking views of Northumberland landscapes
How to Get to Rothbury by Train
Morpeth Train Station is around 15 miles away and is the nearest train station to Rothbury. You can book train tickets in Northumberland here.
How to Get to Rothbury by Bus
When using the Arriva Bus Service, two routes travel through Rothbury: the 508 from (and to) Gateshead and Newcastle, and the 144 from Morpeth. Bus tickets to Newcastle and Gateshead can be booked here.
Travel Tips for Exploring Northumberland
- Read about Northumberland in these incredible books
- Book the best tours and guides on GetYourGuide
- Join English Heritage and save a packet on visiting all the castles in Northumberland
- Book Trains & Buses with Omio
- Rent a Car with Discover Cars
- Never get lost with the Ordnance Survey Maps App
- Find the right accommodation for you via Sykes Cottages, Booking.com, and the YHA
Final Words on the Best Things to do in Rothbury
Rothbury is one of Northumberland’s loveliest towns. There’s a lively main street, a range of great restaurants, and a year-round calendar of activities. If you want a taste of Northumbrian town life mixed with rural adventure, this is the place to come to. Come on up and check out some of the fab things to do in Rothbury, Northumberland.
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