10 things to do in Northumberland this summer
There’s always plenty going on in Northumberland over the summer and even if you’re a seasoned visitor to the county, the chances are there’ll be a few new sights to surprise you on your next visit. 2023 has been an exciting year of new openings here and, combined with the much-loved but ever evolving attractions, you’ll likely have a lengthy to-visit list.
Here’s our round up of sights to see and activities to plan on your forthcoming trip.
A trip to Alnwick always makes for a magical day. Visit Alnwick Castle, home to the Duke of Northumberland and possibly Britain’s most iconic castle made famous as the film set for Harry Potter and Downton Abbey. It’s bang in the middle of Alnwick and there’s plenty of parking nearby or at the Alnwick Garden. Tour the castle, taking in the State Rooms and collections of fine art – or try your hand at broomstick training and the Dragon’s Quest.
A Whimsical World
Then cross the road to The Alnwick Garden and marvel at this masterpiece of horticultural engineering. Cool off under the grand cascade water fountain or under the shade of the many wonderful tree specimens. If you have small people in tow (or perhaps even if you don’t) pay a visit to the newly created Lilidorei at The Alnwick Garden. Designed as a ‘magical, mysterious village full of play’ it’s the whimsical wonderland brainchild of the Duchess of Northumberland that aims to fire up children’s imaginations and free them from digital screens. A giant play park at its heart (the largest world-wide), it’s said to be home to nine clans who worship Christmas, brought to life with soundscapes, interactive storytelling and lighting. With tube slides longer and taller than you’ve probably ever seen, and a 24-metre-tall central tower, Lilidorei will challenge the bravest of souls.
With some 200 miles of scenic, and relatively flat cycling, Northumberland’s perfect for sightseeing by bike. You’ll find a range of gentle circular routes, off-road high octane rides and plenty in between! The Coast and Castles cycle route hugs the coastline from Newcastle to Berwick-upon-Tweed and offers a great way to get up close to many of the famous natural and historic sites of Northumberland.
A cycling tourist’s dream, this route passes through areas of outstanding natural beauty, world-famous landmarks such as Lindisfarne Castle/ Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle with history at every turn.
There are plenty of places to hire bikes or even book a guided cycling trip – and of course we’re happy to store your kit if you’re travelling fully equipped.
Head to the historic and picturesque village of Warkworth (less than 15 minutes from Eshott) for water-based fun on the River Coquet. The calm waters of the Coquet provide the perfect conditions for stand-up paddle boarding taking in the sights of the majestic Warkworth Castle, and the plentiful wildlife along the estuary. You can hire SUP (stand up paddleboards) year-round but the water’s naturally warmer (a tad) in the summer! Contact Jon at Northside Surf School to book your tutored experience.
No trip to Northumberland is complete without a trip to the beach -whatever season you visit. And of course, being Northumberland, you’re spoiled for choice. Dog walker, surfer, dune jumper, sandcastle sculptor extraordinaire: there’s a beach for you all! Wide sandy beaches with oodles of space and knock-out views, and castles to admire, our beaches are the jewel in our crown.
Safari, so good
Ingram Farm in Northumberland’s National Park is England’s largest Scheduled Ancient Monument. It’s of regional, national and international importance, with the same protected status as Stonehenge – only without the crowds. The Ingram Valley Farm Safari is an exciting and accessible concept that uses their off road Traxter vehicle to take visitors on a tour of the landscape, including the pre-historic to post-medieval settlements, to discover what shaped the valley over the past 12,000 years and beyond, sharing tales of farming history, myth and legend. A three-hour excursion with a picnic supplied by the Ingram Café, it’s a wonderful and gentle way to immerse yourself in the heritage of the region.
Al fresco films in a fortress
Outdoor cinema returns to Bamburgh Castle this summer with four al fresco screenings from its Inner Ward courtyard lawn. Could there be a more magnificent site for cinema amidst the towering turrets of this most iconic coastal fortress? We think not. Pack a picnic rug and wrap up warm and choose from Dirty Dancing, Mamma Mia, The Greatest Showman or Grease on the (really) big screen under the stars.
A wee dram
New for 2023, Ad Gefrin is an Anglo-Saxon Museum and English whisky distillery in Wooler that breathes life into the stories of the area’s forgotten kings and queens and shows off the unique heritage, arts and produce of the county. Just under five miles from the archaeological site of Gefrin where Anglo Saxon kings Edwin, Oswald and Oswiu held court, the museum shines a light on the history of the area and the Royal Court. The distillery, the first to open in Northumberland for 200 years, offers superb tours and tastings as well as a very good on-site bistro. This is a must for all history buffs as well as those who like a wee dram or a cracking cheese scone!
Grace Darling Museum
Bamburgh is always on our list of recommended places to visit in the area. The majestic castle, the vast sandy beach and views to the Farne Islands, often peppered with puffins make it a must-see, year-round. But don’t visit without a detour to the Grace Darling Museum. RNLI-run, the museum is a treasure trove of letters, personal items and stories about Victorian Britain’s greatest heroine and the famous coble used in the rescue. Admission is free, open daily except Saturdays.
The Landscaped Lady
Northumberlandia ‘Lady of the North’ is a country park like no other, with woodland trails, a visitor centre and a giant landscaped sculpture in the shape of a reclining lady carved into the hillside. The spectacular man-made formation is made from 1.5 million tonnes of rock, clay, and soil, measures around 100 feet in height and a quarter of a mile long.
Open ‘dawn until dusk’, and with free entry, there are a series of pathways around so that you can explore the contours of this unique sculpture and take in the fabulous views of the countryside.
Naturally there’s plenty more to see and do this summer. Just ask our friendly team for suggestions when you book your summer escape at Eshott Hall.