A wild, unspoiled and remote corner of England which holds the accolade of being the most unpolluted place in the country both in terms of noise, air, and light (so makes a fantastic place to go stargazing)! Sparsely populated, it’s also one of the most beautiful places to visit in the United Kingdom and possesses a timeless almost unearthly feel. Expect empty endless beaches punctuated by the odd ancient castle perched on a rocky outcrop and wonderfully untamed rugged landscapes. From my many visits over the years, here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in Northumberland, England…
1. Holy Island (Lindisfarne) – one of the best and most beautiful places to explore in Northumberland
This is a tranquil and beautiful destination located off the coast of Northumberland, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne holds a special place in the history of the UK. The mysterious island is only accessible by a causeway and has long held an important religious significance as this is where the Christian message was said to have flourished throughout the world.
Teetering on the coastline is the imposing Lindisfarne Castle which was built in the mid-1500s and houses exhibits dating from different eras. Located just to the north of the castle is the Gertrude Jekyll Garden which is a small and pretty flower garden designed Edward Hudson in 1911.
Explore the historic Lindisfarne Priory and St. Mary’s Church, both ancient and important places associated with holy pilgrimages. Take a walk on the remote beaches of North Shore and Sandham Bay or spend the evening exploring the charming village shops and cafes, there’s much to see on this serene island, and once you’ve seen it for yourself you’ll see why it has captured the hearts of so many of its visitors.
2. Hadrian’s Wall – the striking remains of the Roman Wall which stretched almost 80 miles from coast-to-coast
A legendary landmark of Great Britain, Hadrian’s Wall stands true to the testimony of the Roman Empire. Also known as Picts’ Wall, Hadrian’s Wall sprawls over 70 miles from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. This is easily one of the most interesting historic places to visit in England and was built by the Roman army servicing as the north-west frontier of the Roman empire for nearly 300 years. It dips and dives its way through outstanding landscapes including beautiful valleys, pristine rivers, ancient forts, spectacular waterfalls, and lush green meadows. The wall itself is so impressive it was said to have inspired the Northern Wall in the popular TV series Game of Thrones.
Northumberland holds 33 miles of this intriguing structure and here you can follow it along discovering spectacular viewpoints, ancient artifacts, and Roman forts along the way.
Step back in time nearly 2000 years by exploring the Housesteads, the best-preserved Roman fort. Explore the archaeological site of Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum and take a glimpse of Roman life. Visit the remains of a third-century Roman temple in Brocolitia and the Carrawburgh Fort with fascinating sites Roman bathhouses and barracks.
The last stopover at this legendary site is a thick stretch of Hadrian’s Wall located in the pretty village of Heddon-on-the-Wall.
3. Northumberland National Park – home to England’s cleanest rivers, clearest air, and the darkest skies
Northumberland National Park is the northernmost national park in England. It covers an area of more than 1,050 square kilometres. Cheviot Hills – located in the North of the park – are a range of beautiful hills that also serve as a border that separates England and Scotland. The stunning hills located in the south of the park give way to areas of rolling moorland, and this is also where the ancient Roman wall, Hadrian’s Wall (mentioned above) is located. This wonderful area in Northumberland is home to some of the most pristine rivers, clearest air, and darkest skies in England. From beautiful valleys, prehistoric hill forts, Roman ruins, and rugged castles to spectacular waterfalls and lush meadows, the park is truly an extraordinary place.
If you are a nature fan, then definitely include a visit to the beautiful Kielder Forest which is home to northern Europe’s largest man-made lake and England’s largest forest. The mid-point of the National park is where you’ll find bubbling River Coquet, rolling moorland, and rocky outcrops. Other highlights including hiking the highest peak of the park, The Cheviots Hills, exploring the hidden forts in the Breamish Valley, or visiting the scenic Linhope Spout waterfall, you’ll also discover peaceful beauty spots as you meander through the park.
The park in general covers a quarter of the stunning county of Northumberland. Head to this beautiful place to visit in Northumberland for walks, hikes, cycling or just to soak up the wonderful, unspoiled and unpolluted scenery.
4. Seahouses – a pretty coastal village which is the gateway to the Farne Islands
Previously known by the name Sunderland, Seahouses is one of the most scenic villages to explore in England. Located 20 miles north of Alnwick in on the Northumberland coast’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Seahouses is both an alluring and beautiful coastal village complete with a picturesque harbor where you can watch fishing boats gently bobbing in the bracing salty sea breeze. Home to sandy beaches, rolling dunes, and towering cliffs, you’ll discover historical buildings, some wonderful attractions, and pretty gardens in wonderful Seahouses.
Take a boat ride to explore the incredible wildlife at the Farne Islands (where you can see many beautiful seabirds, including puffins). Take a wander around the independent shops or the pretty traditional houses, explore the pretty Bamburgh Beach and Budle Bay or take a scenic walk along the harbor, or head out further and explore the dramatic stretch of coastline complete with stunning views.
5. Alnwick Castle – a stunning castle where Harry Potter scenes were once filmed
An iconic medieval castle about 85 miles from Edinburgh, Alnwick Castle is a beloved tourist attraction in Northumberland and one of the best castles to visit in England. Built as a Norman defense in the 11th century, today the castle is the residence of the current Duke of Northumberland. Explore the beautiful grounds surrounding the castle landscaped by the British icon, Lancelot Capability Brown, or pay a visit to the beautiful garden and enchanting country house which is located just adjacent to the castle.
It’s also famous for having scenes filmed here for the Harry Potter movies so if this castle looks familiar you will know why. Both Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets both used this stunning Northumberland location for shooting. Learn about medieval history, take broomstick lessons or catch a movie screening, the castle is an ideal place for a family day out in Northumberland.
6. Berwick-upon-Tweed – the most Northern town in English which is located on a stunning coastline
The northernmost town in England, Berwick-upon-Tweed is nestled on the border of England and Scotland at the mouth of the River Tweed on the stunning East Coast. It makes a fantastic base for scenic walks along the Northumberland coast but it’s also a charming and well-preserved market town which is well worth exploring. It’s also home to some notable architectural features including the famous Stephenson’s Viaduct bridge, which is often mentioned as being one of the finest in the world.
Notable attractions of the town include Berwick’s Elizabethan walls with castle remains. Visit the historic Georgian mansion full of antiques at the Paxton House or take in the excellent views of the surrounding countryside from the beautiful Old Bridge on the Tweed River.
Brimming with cobblestone streets, castles, and beaches, Berwick has a vibrant cultural centre with a variety of artists on offer at The Maltings (a popular cinema and live arts venue). Also well worth visiting is the military history landmark of Berwick Barracks and the Main Guard displaying the Army progress from the 17th century.
Makes sure you scale the heights of the pretty Elizabethan town walls for seriously beautiful views across the wide beaches, the imposing North Sea, and the Tweed estuary. Other highlights include nearby Marshall Meadows Bay, The Berwickshire Coastal Parth, and of course the beautiful sandy beaches that are very easily accessible from the town (head for Cocklawburn Beach).
7. Bamburgh Castle – one of Northumberland’s most iconic buildings
A short drive from Seahouses is the magnificent Bamburgh Castle which has stood on the Northumberland coastline for over 1,400 years and this is another iconic place to visit in Northumberland. Neighbouring the village of Bamburgh in Northumberland, the beautiful Grade I listed building – which towers 150 feet above the coast – was said to have been built between 420 to 547.
Although in more recent history the famously striking castle captured the attention of Victorian’s greatest inventors, William George Armstrong. Today it remains the private, family seat of the Armstrong’s to this day and has starred in many films and small-screen productions, from Transformers and The Last Knight to Netflix hit Frontier and more recently the popular Last Kingdom series. You’ll have to pay to get in but it’s worth it, this is definitely one of the best attractions to explore in Northumberland!
8. Hexham Abbey – a striking Northumberland gem
A magnificent holy place in the heart of Hexham, Hexham Abbey stands near the confluence of River North Tyne and River South Tyne. From the original building of the 7th century, the Frith stool to the Night Stair and the Anglo Saxon crypt, the beautiful Abbey has so much history surrounding the site.
One of the most prosperous abbeys in the north of England during the time, today Hexham Abbey depicts several religious scenes as well as a tribute to the armed forces. A sanctuary of breathtaking stained glass windows and incredible architecture, Hexham Abbey is a stunning place of pilgrimage and worship.
It’s open daily from 10am to 4pm for visitors and is one of the best places to visit in Northumberland especially if you’re a history fan.
Although Hexham Abbey is the jewel in the crown, the town itself is also a great place to explore. It’s known for its thriving arts and cultural scene so make sure you take a stroll around Hexam’s many galleries before you leave!
9. Rumbling Kern – a pretty and award-winning Northumberland beach
Although it’s small, this is it is a lovely and pretty beach to visit in Northumberland. It’s situated in a rocky cove at Rumbling Kern near Howick south of Cullernose Point. The beach is sheltered behind small cliffs that face the inland from the sea.
A secret smuggler’s cove on the Northeast coastline, today the tranquil beach of Rumbling Kern has lots to offer for visitors. With plenty of sand, rock pools, grassy dunes and towering cliffs, the beach is revealed during low tide. Sitting above the wave-battered rocks is the 19th-century Bathing House, a historic holiday cottage that belonged to Earl Grey (from the tea fame!). A great sunrise and picnic location, the beach gets its name from the hole in the rock which rumbles as the waves shoot up
The award-winning beach is a great place to visit for both couples, singles, and families who like to be away from the crowds!
10. Morpeth – one of the best historic towns to explore in Northumberland
Love shopping and sightseeing? Then the historic market town of Morpeth is a great place to visit. Located in North East England (on the River Wansbeck), each street seems to offer something new and you’ll get a chance to shop at the unique and individual shops dotted all over town.
Highlights include the 13th century Chantry that houses the town’s Bagpipe Museum and Northumbrian Arts and Craft Gallery and the Turner Garden located in the park, which commemorates a former resident William Turner who was the father of English botany.
A wonderful open space, Carlisle Park contains one of the four floral clocks in England. Morpeth’s famous landmark includes the ancient Morpeth Castle, the towering Morpeth Clock Tower and the ancient Morpeth Chantry on the banks of River Wansbeck.
Overall, Morpeth comes with a unique combination of history, heritage, and stylishness that’s hard to beat!
11. Wallington Hall – a beautiful country house and gardens to visit in Northumberland
A historic country house located about 12 miles west of Morpeth, near the village of Cambo, Wallington Hall has been owned by the National Trust since 1942. An elegant 17th-century mansion built by Sir William Blackett, Wallington Hall is full of fascinating history.
With beautifully furnished rooms, mammoth paintings depicting the 2000 years of local life and beautiful walled gardens, Wallington Hall is both a special and an interesting place to explore. After visiting the house take a stroll around the estate, beautiful pond and woodland.
12. Farne Islands – a rugged beauty spot which is home to a fine array of birdlife
The Farne Islands are a group of islands located off the coast of Northumberland, England. There are between 15 and 20 islands depending on where the tide is but this is a must for all crime drama fans. The first episode of the popular TV detective series ‘Vera’ was filmed here. Farne is a habitat for seals, dolphins, puffins, and many species of sea birds. Europe’s most important sea bird sanctuary is located on Staple Island one of the outer islands and offers the perfect breeding ground for birds.
The islands in the Outer Group are Staple Island, the Brownsman, North and South Wamses, Big Harcar, and the Longstone. With the two groups being separated by Staple Sound.
The rugged, atmospheric and beautiful place to visit in Northumberland is well worth exploring (you can catch a boat here from Seahouses).
While the Inner Farne was home to St. Cuthbert for many years, Longstone Island is known for its legendary lighthouse and rocky outcrops. Watch the seals sunbathe on the slopes of volcanic rocks or even try scuba diving here.
13. Hindhope Linn – a wonderful waterfall located in an enchanting forest dell
Northumberland’s best-kept secret, Hindhope Linn is a spectacular waterfall in a quiet captivating dell. A peaceful beauty spot tucked away in the old forests on the northeast edge of Keilder forest past Blakehopeburnhaugh Farm, Hindhope Linn is a gem of a waterfall.
Connect with nature as you explore the scenic gorge, bubbling riverside and old Scots Pine and larch trees. Hike to the waterfall, take a dip or enjoy a picnic in this magical location, Hindhope Linn is a perfect place for those seeking solitude in the lap of nature.
To get there firstly take the forest road (past Blakehopeburnhaugh Farm) and then you have to walk over the trail (overlooking Blakehope Burn) but it makes for a lovely scenic walk with friends, family, or your pet pooch.
Blakehopeburnhaugh is located at the northern end of the Kielder Forest Drive and this is where you will also find two picnic areas, a toilet block, and access onto the popular Pennine Way long-distance footpath.
14. Alnmouth – home to a long and wide sandy beach
This is an attractive and characterful seaside village located between the River Aln and a golden sandy beach. Many years ago it was once a bustling merchant port but today it’s a very tranquil spot that offers many delights. Vistors seem to lap up the fantastic collection of independent restaurants, traditional pubs, and quaint tea rooms as well as the art gallery and gift shops.
Although the main draw is most definitely the long wide and very gorgeous sandy beach. It’s known as Alnmouth beach and is a popular but not too crowded place for families to spend the day. When the tide is low, you can even walk all the way along the coast to Boulmer and even further. Walk the miles of beach, cycle, watch the sunsets, or stargaze in the biggest Dark Sky Park, this is truly a wonderful place to visit!
15. Bolam Lake Country Park – surrounded by historic landscapes and dramatic views
Bolam Lake Country Park is situated in the heart of the beautiful Northumberland and is also surrounded by historic landscapes and dramatic views. It’s one of the most beautiful country parks of Northumberland and the gorgeous scenery here includes woodlands, wetlands, and open grassed areas.
It’s located about 9 miles west of Morpeth, and also expect to see a large freshwater lake and myriad of wildlife. Take a stroll around the lake, explore the woodland, have a picnic, or admire the lovely views, Bolam Lake is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy a day out with family or friends.
16. Dunstanburgh Castle and Embleton Bay – a stunning coastal spot to explore in Northumberland
This is a wonderful 14th-century fort that is found on the coast of Northumberland in Northern England. It’s located between the pretty villages of Craster and Embleton and is surrounded by some of the most gorgeous landscapes and scenery in the county.
The structure that you see today was built by Earl Thomas of Lancaster between 1313 and 1322, so fans of history will absolutely love this place! Sadly it’s now in ruins but it’s still an imposing and photogenic sight and makes a great day out.
Embleton Bay is the Northumberland beauty spot that’s overlooked by the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle and it also makes a wonderful place to explore. It’s known for its truly glorious land sandy beach that seemingly stretches for miles! It’s popular for water sports, bird watchers, and bathers – in fact, it offers a UK standard of bathing water quality so you can swim in safety.