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Melanie Grandidge May 6 2022

With more castles than any other English county, Northumberland has a rich history to explore.

It was once the Kingdom of Northumbria – the largest and most powerful kingdom in the British Isles. Today, its past lies amongst the spectacular coastline and wonderful countryside.

Having spent many childhood holidays here, it was a nostalgic joy to revisit the area for Absolute Escapes. I’ve compiled a list of the 5 most beautiful places to visit in the fascinating county of Northumberland.

 

Lindisfarne

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is a must-see. Linked to the mainland by a causeway, this magical island becomes completely cut off from the mainland at high tide. This is when it becomes an idyllic peaceful spot to admire Northumberland’s coast.

Perched on top of the highest point of the island is Lindisfarne Castle, dating back to the 16th century. When I walked up to the castle, glorious rays of sunshine appeared and illuminated the castle. Several guides recommended visiting on a misty day as this is when the castle looks most iconic. However, I wanted the excuse of sunshine to treat myself to ice cream!

To reach the main part of Holy Island, you can either park directly on the island or park on the mainland and walk along the causeway. I preferred the latter, as the walk was a wonderful introduction to the dramatic castle.

I recommend also exploring the picturesque village and the Medieval monastery ruins of Lindisfarne Priory. I found this exploration gave me a greater sense of both modern and past life on the Holy Island.

 

Alnwick Castle and Gardens

If you’ve ever watched Harry Potter or Downton Abbey then you may be more familiar with Alnwick Castle than you realise! 

A visit to Alnwick Castle & Gardens provides something for all the family. Practice Quidditch and archery on the castle grounds like you’re studying at Hogwarts. Wander around the castle rooms, as if you’re in the Crawley family, and admire the iconic paintings of Turner and Canaletto.

Home to the Percy family for more than 700 years, Alnwick Castle is close to many hearts for many different reasons. It’s the castle’s beauty that ties them all together.

A must-see in this area is Alnwick Garden. Once a forgotten plot of land, the Duchess of Northumbria’s vision transformed it into a multi-award-winning visitor attraction. She once said – “To me, a garden without people is dead and people have brought The Alnwick Garden to life and restored its soul.” Alnwick Gardens is now home to the largest Japanese Cherry Orchard in the world, four thousand types of plants, and the world’s largest Treehouse Restaurant. It’s a beautiful setting for a family picnic, with ample space for children to run around to their heart’s content.

 

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Bamburgh Castle

Situated on 9 acres of land, the iconic Bamburgh Castle has overlooked the Northumberland coast for over 1,400 years.

With historical significance from the Roman era and prior, the castle has a long and dramatic history. The oldest surviving part of the structure, the keep, dates back to the 12th century. Bamburgh Castle is now home to the Armstrong family as it has been since the 19th century. 

The most striking interior I found in the castle was in The King’s Hall. Built in the Victorian era, its beamed ceilings, open fireplace, and numerous paintings stand on the site of a former medieval hall. Standing in this magnificent room, you can really imagine the grand balls and banquets that would have taken place here over the centuries.

I recommend walking along the coastline by the castle, where you can experience a beautiful pristine beach with an impressive castle view. It’s a wonderful place to roam around, reflect upon the shimmering waves and gaze at the awe-inspiring castle.

 

Northumberland National Park

For fans of history and nature alike, Northumberland National Park is the perfect place. This vast area of beautiful unspoiled land covers 400 square miles between the Scottish Borders and Hadrian’s Wall. Although one of the least visited National Parks in the UK, its remoteness gives it more attraction. With the cleanest rivers and the freshest air in England, its beauty is pure.

Protected against artificial light and the largest Dark-Sky Preserve in Europe, this area is perfect for stargazing. I recommend venturing to see Linhope Spout. This impressive waterfall pours into a deep pool before it joins the River Beamish.

 

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Alnmouth Beach

Northumberland’s coast has so much natural beauty and character that it is now an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Perhaps the perfect way to end a castle-filled trip is to relax on one of Northumberland’s many beaches. We recommend heading to Alnmouth Beach for a relaxing stroll along the sand in the brisk fresh air. The bay is so wide, particularly at low tide, that it’ll never feel crowded.

You may believe that Northumberland’s history is all in its castles but you’ll also find hints of the past at the coast. As you walk along Alnmouth Beach, you’ll see some remains of defences put in place during World War II. Particularly noticeable are the anti-tank cubes which look like concrete blocks.

Whilst you are there, I would recommend taking a visit to the quaint and peaceful village of Alnmouth itself. Here you’ll find rows of colourful fishermen’s cottages and stone houses by the grassy dunes and sandy beaches. With a charming high street full of friendly restaurants, cafes, pubs, and shops, you’ll be sure of a warm welcome in Alnmouth.

 

Discover Northumberland with Absolute Escapes

Ready to experience Northumberland’s beautiful scenery and historic attractions for yourself? 

Discover this hidden Northern gem with one of our award-winning self-drive holidays such as Hadrian’s Wall & Northumberland. Or get closer to nature and get your walking boots on for a walking holiday along the Northumberland Coast Path.

Melanie Grandidge

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