The temptation to chase the winter sun intensifies around this time of year, as the days get shorter and the mercury begins to drop. While you might be bombarded with targeted ads imploring you to head to some far-flung isle of year-round sun, there is an alternative that’ll allow you to appreciate the beauty of one of England’s most dramatic counties during the colder months - a winter break to Northumberland.
To truly make the most of the landscape from Rothbury to Lindisfarne and beyond, you’ll need to pack with a purpose. In this post, we’re running through all the essentials you’ll need to make the most of your time in this wild and idyllic North Eastern county.
Invest in a hard-wearing wardrobe
While Northumberland is certainly on the drier side of the country, thanks to the Pennines, it still rains through winter. A solid place to start with regards to packing is a proper waterproof jacket - and we’d like to stress how proper it should be - Gore-Tex and other breathable yet waterproof fibres are your best bet. Beyond that, you shouldn’t be afraid to invest a little extra in a top-quality coat - this will help you to truly enjoy the landscape and bracing seaside winds, whatever the weather.
If you’re hiking amongst the hills or along the coast, you’ll need high-quality footwear that’s up to the job. Don’t think you can get away with wearing casual trainers, as your feet may end up cold and wet. Sturdy ankle support and strong waterproofing are essential if you don’t want your trip to end up a damp squib.
Bring gadgets galore
To make the most of the great Northumbrian outdoors, you’ll need a savvy selection of gadgets. Packing a high-quality camera to gain a very sharp perspective on your surroundings is an evergreen option for outdoorsy types with a penchant for photography - and we’d highly recommend it, as we’ve received some stunning examples of local photography at Visit Northumberland.
If you’re spending some crisp winter nights in and around Kielder Forest, be sure to pack a telescope or at least a pair of binoculars. The forest and its surroundings are blessed with some of the darkest skies in the country - so pack a thermos alongside your viewing equipment and get set for some first-class stargazing.
Or go full digital detox
Alternatively, a winter getaway in a timeless landscape such as Northumberland - whether it’s Tynedale or the coastline around Bamburgh Castle - offers the opportunity for a ‘digital detox’. Leave your smartphone at home and ramble through the hills and along the beaches using only an Ordnance Survey map - and you might find yourself lost in the moment that little bit more.
Of course, we’d advise carrying a basic phone at the very least, in case you get into trouble. Just make sure it’s one that doesn’t compel you to check social media every 10 seconds while you’re in the very heart of one of the UK’s most stunning natural landscapes.
Stock up on home comforts
You’ll want to relax and unwind during the long, cosy nights in the blissfully quiet countryside, and this means bringing along a few home comforts for whatever type of accommodation you’ve chosen. From a box-set to indulge in if the weather gets a little too inclement to cosy blankets and plenty of treats, making sure you’re as comfortable as possible is easy if you bring along some cosy touches of home.
The benefit of a mini-break in the UK is that you can load up the car with so much more than what’s allowed on an aeroplane, so we’d strongly advise making the most of this blessing!
From the Cheviot Hills to Hadrian’s Wall and the coastline beyond, there’s ample diversity in the Northumberland region to make a winter break a positively enchanting proposition. Combined with our packing tips, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time in this ancient county.
Author bio: Luke Conod is Managing Director of Buy Jeans and its parent company Denim Nation, providing competitively priced men's denim jeans and other high-quality clothing from leading international labels.
Northumberland International Dark Sky Park was unveiled in December 2013. At 572 square miles (1,483 square kilometres) it is also Europe’s largest area of protected night sky. Due to its pristine skies it was awarded gold tier designation by the International Dark Sky Association, making it officially the best place in England for people to go to enjoy the heavens.