Refuge Hut on Lindisfarne Causeway by Tony Robson
It’s the most colourful time of the year…
It may be beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but autumn is still in full swing. Yes, the shops are brimming with Christmas decorations and mince pies. Maybe some of your neighbours have made the questionable decision to hang fairy lights across their porch, but there is so much to squeeze out of the last month of autumn.
Here’s how to make the most of the crisp mornings, the dark evenings and the array of autumn colours in Northumberland:
1) Take a Walk in the Park
Hexham Abbey Grounds by Keith Donaghey
Mid-way through November, Northumberland’s parks are at their autumnal peak. Light dustings of frost glisten across the landscape and the vibrant autumnal colours brighten up the greyest of days. As the lush greenery slowly turns orange and leaves begin to drift to the ground, there’s no better time to take a walk in the park. Druridge Bay Country Park, Bolam Lake Country Park and Hexham Sele Park and Abbey Grounds are just some of the county’s most stunning spots to admire the autumn colours in all of their glowing glory.
2) Espresso Yourself
While the cold (and potentially wet) weather isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, there’s just something about heading into a café, pulling off your coat and scarf and cosying up with a cuppa. Food and drink spots with crackling log burners, sink-into-seating and menus of frothy coffees can be found across the county. Doxford Hall in Chathill, The Lord Crewe Arms in Blanchland and The Joiners Arms in Newton-by-the-Sea all boast cosy interiors and roaring open fires. Just head to our food and drink page for some drink-spiration.
3) Listen Up
Hexham by Keith Donaghey
Autumn gives Northumberland’s market towns an extra touch of magic, as the crisp leaves at your feet illuminate the cobbled streets. Enjoy a walk and a coffee stop as you admire the old architecture of Alnwick, get some early Christmas shopping done at Hexham Market or meander along the banks of Berwick’s romantic River Tweed as the low sun reflects off the water. You can do this with your own personal tour guide with our audio tours, which take you through each of the three market towns step by step, telling Northumberland’s story through its rich history.
4) Cosy Up
East Farm Croft, Embleton
Autumn is the perfect time to huddle up in that cosy cottage, rustic log cabin or quirky accommodation you’ve had your eye on. Northumbria Coast and Country Cottages offers a range of cottages with beautifully-decorated living areas, toasty log burners and sweeping sea views. Or, hide out in a log cabin in the forest at Kielder Waterside, whose luxurious lodges are nestled in the woodland (and some even offer a private hot tub). Langley Dam Glamping’s old clinker boat-style glamping cabins have all the home comforts you could need inside what looks like an upturned fishing boat. Tucked away in the Tyne Valley, you can enjoy stunning views while you sit around a toasty fire and walking routes are a-plenty.
5) Watch the sun go up or down
Seaton Sluice Sunrise by Stuart Patterson
Northumberland’s sunrises and sunsets are always spectacular, but in autumn they are pretty hard to beat. When the sun is low, a candy-floss-pink illuminates the sky and simply takes your breath way. Wrap up warm, pack a flask and take a walk on windy Bamburgh Beach, along Seaton Sluice harbour or any of Northumberland’s other coastal spots to admire the incredible sight. Once the sun has set, look out for the Northern Lights that have been spotted swirling across the sky along Northumberland’s coast.
6) Stare at the Stars
Stars over Cawfields Quarry by Elisha Scott Photography
On that note, along with the dreaded dark nights and mornings comes one of the best things about autumn: the awe-inspiring dark skies that mean you can gaze into the galaxy. The jet black skies make the stars appear clearer, brighter and more spectacular. Search for the stars at Kielder Observatory, graze while you gaze at award-winning Battlesteads’ shooting star supper, or pick a Dark Sky Friendly accommodation so you can stargaze until you fall asleep. Pull on your walking boots and head to Northumberland National Park, where The Sill, Cawfields, The Stonehaugh Pavilion and Harbottle are all excellent spots for stargazing.
7) Get out of your back Garden
Gardens are a great place to get away from the crowds in autumn. The swarms of summer visitors have generally cleared, and the ever-changing garden fauna has turned orange and crisp, making for a stunningly colourful day out. The Alnwick Garden is a great spot for admiring the abundance of nature and exploring each of its gardens at the change of season.
8) Go Wild
If you have a way with wildlife, autumn is a great to time to get out and explore; walking trails tend to be quieter and many native species are their most active at this time of year. Red squirrels can be spotted scurrying through woodland and making their winter stock piles, adorable, fluffy seal pups are born and timid deer are often spotted amongst the trees. Get up close and personal to wildlife at Falconry Days, where native Bird of Prey species have been taken out of captivity and given a happy home in the wilds of Northumberland National Park. Passionate staff, incredible birds and an astounding setting make for a fantastic day out.
9) Get ready for the C-Word…
It is admittedly a little early to start talking about Christmas, but we all know that it’s best to avoid the late December rush when buying presents. Ford, Alnwick, Northumberlandia and Amble (amongst others) all hold Christmas Markets where platefuls of festive foods and hot cups of aromatic mulled wine are on offer while you browse for stocking fillers. Their reams of bright bunting and twinkling fairy lights would even get Ebenezer Scrooge in the festive spirit.
10) Save it for a Rainy Day
Cragside House & Gardens by Sarah Jane Millman
We can’t ignore the fact that autumn comes with the potential for some drizzly weather. If you wake up to the somewhat comforting sound of rain tapping at your window, head to one of Northumberland’s indoor attractions. Spell-binding Bamburgh Castle, beautiful Belsay Hall, enchanting Cragside House and more all have weekend opening hours throughout November and December. Each have stunning interiors with rich historical significance to admire and, if the sky does clear, their gardens are worth a wander.