The Top Things to Do in Northumberland
Heading to Northumberland? check out these epic activities
Northumberland has so much to offer, from breathtaking natural landscapes to historic relics and exciting attractions. Whatever you’re after, you’re bound to find it tucked away in this rural county in England’s far north east. Whoever said it was bleak up north? Here at Plum Guide, we consider ourselves experts on all things travel, and we're confident you will too by the end of this guide. We’ve put together this list of things to do in Northumberland just for you, so you don’t have to miss out on any of the fun. We've done the hard work, now all you to do is enjoy the ride.
Walk along Hadrian’s Wall
You don't need to walk along the whole thing - that might take you a while - but visiting Hadrian’s Wall is a rite of passage when travelling to Northumberland. Stretching across the UK for 73 miles, the famous wall was built in 122AD by the Romans as a defence fortification, marking the northwest frontier of the empire. If you actually are considering walking the full length of the wall, it takes six to eight days... not so keen now are you? We don’t blame you. You have plenty of alternative options though, so don't let it get you down. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is packed with activities that don’t require too much physical exertion, so you can enjoy the scenic sights while retaining your energy. Sounds good that, doesn't it.
Depending on which section of the wall you’re visiting, you can explore the remains of the many Roman forts, towers, and towns that run along it. There are also galleries and museums, where you can see rare artefacts uncovered from around the area, and learn more about what life was like in Roman times. You can also enjoy the dramatic scenery from the various walking trails which pass through beautiful countryside.
Venture out to Holy Island
An island break in the North East of England? We told you, we're travel experts. If there's something to know, we know it. Holy Island is a tidal island off the coast of Northumbria, with a history dating back as far as the 6th century. The island is home to Lindisfarne Monastery, an attraction founded by an Irish monk who brought Christianity to Northumbria. Explore the ruins and visit the museum to learn how the monastery was pillaged by viking marauders in the 8th century. Dramatically rising up from the rock face overlooking the island is another fascinating building in the form of Lindisfarne Castle, built in 1550. Although you can walk around the rooms, it’s the views from the battlements which really steal the show. See if you can spot grey seals frolicking off the shores - there are no prizes unfortunately, but it's certainly worth doing. Holy Island is linked to the mainland by a causeway, and is accessible by car or local bus, so you won't have any trouble finding your way there. To avoid being stranded overnight, make sure to check the tide times before you set off. If you do get stuck, there are a handful of pubs and cafes to tide you over (pun intended).
Stare into space at Kielder Observatory
Searching for more romantic things to do in Northumberland to impress the significant other? Kielder Observatory is just the place. To get there, venture through the Kielder Forest, enjoying wonderful views around Kielder Reservoir as you go. The observatory is sited in the largest gold tier protected dark sky park in Europe, so the stargazing is second to none. It hosts a range of fantastic events, including captivating presentations, guided tours of the building, and telescope lessons led by experienced astronomers. Using high tech instruments, you can get lost in the wonders of the night sky as you spot comets, galaxies, planets and nebulae - always the perfect way to clear your head of life's stresses.
Discover Warkworth Castle and Hermitage
Get a taste of the royal life at Warkworth Castle. Set on a hill overlooking the River Coquet, this fortress was once home to the powerful Dukes of Northumberland. Wander round the towered walls and keep an eye out for the lion badge carved in various parts of the castle. This was the Percy family’s badge, one of the most powerful families in the north at the time. Giant walls and powerful families in the north… Game of Thrones, anyone?
Moving on, it’s worth taking a peaceful walk along the tree-lined river which is teeming with wildlife. From here, climb aboard a rowing boat for a short trip to the Hermitage. Carved out of the cliff rock, this religious building was likely used as a private chapel by the 1st Earl of Northumberland in the 1400s. Exploring the carvings, altars, statues, and vaulted ceiling deep inside the rock makes for an other-worldly experience.
Head down to The Alnwick Garden
Filled with activities for all the family, visiting The Alnwick Garden is definitely one of the best things to do in Northumberland. Spanning 12 acres, the Duchess of Northumberland’s vision is now a multi-award winning attraction. There are over 4,000 plant varieties to discover here, spread out across themed gardens - relax in the tranquil Cherry Orchard, splash about in the Grand Cascade, or smell the sweet scents in the Rose Garden.
One of the more unique gardens is The Poison Garden, filled with 100 toxic and narcotic plants (careful, please). The garden is only open on guided tours, and it’s strictly forbidden to touch any of the plants in here - we can probably agree that that is a sensible rule. End your visit at The Treehouse, the largest wooden treehouse in the world. The kids will no doubt be jealous once they've seen it, so be prepared to get the saw and hammer out as soon as you get back home. In the meantime, enjoy a cosy lunch or dinner in the treetops, surrounded by twinkling lights. There are definitely worse ways to spend a mealtime.
Stroll along the Northumberland Coast (AONB)
It may not quite be the tropical beaches of Thailand, but the Northumberland Coast has its own allure. As a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this 40-mile stretch of coastline has a reputation for a reason. Take in dramatic views from places like Craster and Druridge Bay, and spot some of Northumberland’s finest castles like Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh. For wildlife enthusiasts, visit one of the many sanctuaries, or take a boat trip to the Farne Islands to spot puffins and seals. You can even try out watersports like kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. If you find the water is a little too cold, set off along the Northumberland Coast Path instead, to admire the wide beaches, quiet bays, and sand-swept dunes from the dry comfort of land.