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04 May 2022

Best short walks in Northumberland

Get outside and increase your own mileage with our round-up of some of Northumberland's best short walking routes. You don’t have to be an avid hiker to enjoy them, they incorporate everything from sweeping sea views to historical artefacts, and they are all dog friendly: SEASIDE STROLLS 1). From Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle – This easy walk along the coast offers fantastic views out to sea. An incredible view of Dunstanburgh Castle, photographed above, acts as your guidepost for the duration, and can only be reached by foot. You can enter the castle for a fee upon arrival, or, if you have a dog, they cannot enter the castle but they are more than welcome up to and around the castle. Many visitors with dogs enjoy refreshments at The Jolly Fisherman pub after their walk, where canine friends are welcome. The walk to the castle is around 1.3 miles long, and you can either turn back and return to Craster, or those wanting to extend can continue past the castle to Embleton Bay - a quiet, pristine beach that is largely unknown by tourists. Getting here – A popular option is to park at Craster Tourist Information Centre where a large car park is conveniently located for the walk. From here, you head past The Jolly Fisherman, past the quaint harbour and towards the castle. Where to stay - Beach and Quiet's stunning self-catering cottages are based in Craster, making them the perfect option to explore this route. From grand Dunstan Hall that sleeps ten for a large group or family, to beautifully cosy Stable Cottage that sleeps four, they have an option for every group size. 2). From Seahouses to Bamburgh Castle - This beach walk is a slightly longer option, and the route to Bamburgh is roughly 3 miles long. Predominantly with golden sand underfoot, you can admire the coastline and the castle that perches on a rocky plateau ahead. On the approach to the castle, its dramatic presence and sweeping beach are simply breath-taking. Once you arrive, dogs are welcome in the castle grounds, and from here you can admire the enchanting fortresses and some impressive views of the surrounding coastline. You can also stop for a drink in Bamburgh village, and many dog walkers visit The Copper Kettle where dogs are welcome in the courtyard. Getting here – There are several car parks to choose from in Seahouses, including a sea front car park, parking at the harbour wall and parking behind the Tourist Information Centre. Various bus routes also stop at Seahouses if you are taking public transport. Where to stay - The Bamburgh Castle Inn sits in the prime location to enjoy this spectacular walk. Based in seafront Seahouses, home to the harbour where you can take a boat trip to The Farne Islands, this lovely inn serves fantastic food and offers cosy bedrooms. INLAND ADVENTURES 1). Sycamore Gap - Northumberland National Park is an extremely popular route for walkers, and this circular route (ideal for getting back to your car!) takes you to Housesteads Roman Fort, then along the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hadrian’s Wall and to the National Trust-protected Sycamore Gap. The walk begins at Housesteads Information centre, and along the way you will walk through woodland, wander past magnificent, panoramic views of the wall and, of course, approach the iconic sycamore tree standing in the dramatic dip in the landscape. This circular route is around 5.2 miles in total. Getting here - The AD122 Hadrian’s Wall Country Bus stops at Steel Rigg car park and The Sill car park. You can also park at either of these in order to access this walking route. Where to stay - The Barrasford Arms is a stunning country pub and B&B based in Northumberland National Park, great for hanging up your hiking boots at the end of a day exploring Hadrian's Wall. 2). Walltown Crags - Northumberland National Park is one of the most spectacular places to see Hadrian’s Wall, as it dives and undulates through dramatic, sheer landscape and sweeping, volcanic rock edge. The variety of trails in this area feature woodland, meadows, wildlife lakes and lengthy views across the lush greenery of the National Park. There are circular routes to choose from, and the area has trails that are marked out as suitable for wheelchairs. Getting here - There is a spacious car park here that guests requiring wheelchair access have found useful and the AD122 Hadrian’s Wall Bus stops at Walltown. This service has ramp access and ‘Easy Access Guarantee’ meaning that a complimentary taxi will be arranged should any problems occur. Where to stay - Wydon Farm B&B in Haltwhistle is a National Trust working farm with bed and breakfast accommodation in a luxurious barn conversion. Lying close to The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre, it's in a great spot for starting this route as well as many others in Northumberland National Park. WATERSIDE WANDERS 1). Kielder Water & Forest Park Lakeside Way – On this stunning, waterside route, you can walk along the *27 miles of shoreline around Kielder reservoir and past open-air art pieces and nature-hides where ospreys, red squirrels and other wildlife are spotted regularly. Kielder Dam and Kielder Castle are also en-route, and you can do as much or as little of the route as you choose as its circular nature makes it extremely easy to navigate. Many walkers choose to stick to either the north shore or the south shore, and some routes even incorporate the Osprey ferry along the way. Getting here - Parking is available at Tower Knowe Visitor Centre, Kielder Waterside and other spots. Where to stay - Kielder Waterside Holiday Park lodges are nestled in the heart of Kielder Water & Forest Park in an exclusive waterside location, bringing you an outdoor escape with a touch of luxury. * Please be aware that diversions are in place on the Lakeside Way and Bakethin is closed due to storm damage earlier in the year. Please check the following page for updates - Storm Arwen Recovery Update 2). Alnmouth circular – Stunning Alnmouth, located at the mouth of the River Aln, is a small fishing village which lies within the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Wander along the beach heading north towards Marden Rocks, then make your way inland following the track through Alnmouth golf course. Once you reach the main road, cross over and walk the gentle path descending to the River Aln. Once you reach the village of Lesbury, cross a footbridge over the river and follow the river bank back to the start of the route. Getting here – Park in one of the dedicated roadside parking bays in Alnmouth. Where to stay - Village Farm Cottages are ideally positioned between Alnmouth and Alnwick making an excellent overnight stay to enjoy this route and its surrounding villages and attractions. Now, take a walk on the wild side in Northumberland and please be sure to check any chosen route before you go and make sure you have the appropriate clothing and footwear for the conditions. We have so many fantastic walking routes, so just click through for more of Northumberland's walks and hikes.
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29 April 2022

Cherry Blossoms at The Alnwick Garden

When spring is in full bloom in Northumberland, there are many botanical delights to behold. Daffodils surround our castles, rhododendrons create bursts of colour amongst our gardens, tulips open up to the sunshine overhead, and the largest collection of white cherry blossoms line The Alnwick Garden…           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Vivian Tan (@viviantan629) Yes, you read it right, The Alnwick Garden grows over 300 Japanese cherry trees (officially named Taihaku) in their cherry orchard from the end of April to the beginning of May. While many travel to the likes of Tokyo, Mount Fuji and Japanese islands such as Okinawa to view cherry blossoms, we have them on our doorstep. Where to stay to see them Stay in Alnwick so that you're within easy reach of The Alnwick Garden. Village Farm Cottages' two farms enjoy a tranquil rural setting and provide an ideal holiday base for exploring Alnwick. Or, named after the Inn in Harry Potter books, the Hog’s Head Inn is just a short drive from Alnwick and is a superb place to eat, drink, sleep and explore. The Old Rectory Howick is another excellent option, just ten minutes from Alnwick in the staggering coastal location of Howick. How to ‘Hanami’… Every year, Japanese locals come together for ‘Hanami’, which directly means ‘flower-viewing’ but usually refers to when groups of family/ friends/ colleagues get together to admire the cherry blossoms. Hanami is rarely done without a picnic, and the tradition involves munching on picnic treats beneath the dazzling trees. We have put together a little guide on How to ‘Hanami’ so that you can have a taste of Japan in Northumberland. Step 1) Head to The Alnwick Garden with your friends or family (please ensure your visit is in line with the government roadmap). Step 2) Roll up your picnic blanket, gather your plates, cutlery, cups and flask and buy some delicious food from The Alnwick Garden’s café to put in your picnic basket. Or, keep the Japanese theme and pack your basket at home with traditional Japanese snacks such as sushi rolls, ongiri and tamagoyaki. Step 3) Find a spot that offers a stunning view of the cherry blossoms – maybe somewhere along the sloping grass down to the orchard itself. Or, set yourselves up on one of the romantic swinging benches in the cherry orchard (we hold no responsibility for motion sickness!). Step 4) Enjoy your food with the enchanting, fluttering white cherry blossoms as your backdrop. Wander through the cherry orchard – you might spot some ladies wearing kimonos passing through the gardens. Step 5) Continue the Japanese theme and head to Bari Tea Brewery in Alnwick for a cup of soothing, loose-leaf tea. Or, visit Bari Tea Brewery beforehand and take it with you to your picnic. This century old drink has fantastic health benefits and its sweet, yet earthy, flavour. If your Hanami lasts into the evening, you could head to one of Alnwick’s many restaurants such as Cookie Jar or find a place to stay in Alnwick for a night or two! So, what are you waiting for - invite your friends, pack up your picnic and view the cherry blossoms at The Alnwick Garden.
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05 April 2022

10 things to do in Northumberland this Easter

Easter events, experiences, spa days and spectacular walks are just a few of the things Northumberland has to offer for an Easter break. Read through our list of 10 of the best things to do in Northumberland this Easter for some inspiration (and some TERRIBLE hot cross puns). 1) Chick out our wildlife           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Billy Shiel's Boat Trips (@billyshielsboats) Spring is a fantastic time to discover Northumberland’s wildlife. Boat trips from Seahouses harbour to The Farne Islands resume in April, where you can see hundreds of adorable puffins up close. Kielder’s ospreys have made a return and you may be lucky enough to spot them when you visit. The best places to look out for them are at the dam, Tower Knowe Visitor Centre, Leaplish Bay at Kielder Waterside and the weir at Bakethin. They fish at any time of day, but early morning and early evening are your safest bet. Chillingham Wild Cattle re-opens on 15th April, so head along to see the rare animals before paying a scary visit to Chillingham Castle, known for its extremely high levels of paranormal activity. Extend your trip by staying at peaceful and luxurious Chillingham Manor, the beautiful Grade-II listed building which is perfectly located near a number of Northumberland attractions. 2) Be all ears           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Kielder Observatory (@kielderobservatory) Learn a new skill under Northumberland’s dark skies at one of our observatories. Kielder Observatory runs fantastic events that range from Introductions to Astronomy to Aurora Nights, covering every interest and level of expertise. Aiming to encourage everyone to experience moments of inspiration, wonder and hope through observing the cosmos, the team are passionate about offering their guests a magical and informative evening. Battlesteads Observatory also offers excellent stargazing events, and you can make a night of it here by dining in their exquisite, eco-friendly, award-winning restaurant, and stay overnight in their hotel rooms or self-catering accommodation. 3) Find an egg-cellent last minute deal           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Jane Riley (@beachnquiet) It’s not too late to book an Easter break in Northumberland if you haven’t already. Beach and Quiet still have availability in their beautiful, cosy Stable Cottage, formerly the Georgian stables for Dunstan Hall. The delightful fishing village of Craster is less than half a mile away, where you can see Dunstanburgh Castle, try Craster kippers, and explore paths along the coast leading to the superb sandy beach at Embleton Bay. Perfect for a family of four, take a look at their website to book. If you are a larger group or are looking for a couple’s retreat, visit our late availability page for some last minute steals. Crabtree and Crabtree also have rare Easter availability at The Sheiling, a lovely Bamburgh property that is offering a 10% discount for Easter week. Castle View Cottage, another of their gorgeous new property near Belford with amazing views over Holy Island, is also offering a 10% discount throughout the Easter Holidays.  4) Discover hare-raising history           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Vivi & Becky • Van Life Europe (@viviandbecky) Following its annual winter closure, Alnwick Castle has re-opened just in time for the Easter holidays. Set in the magical town of Alnwick, this staggering castle is the second largest inhabited castle in the country and has been home to the Duke of Northumberland’s family, the Percys, for over 700 years. Combining magnificent medieval architecture with sumptuous Italianate State Rooms, Alnwick Castle is also known for its starring role as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter films. Explore the magnificent grounds, have a flying lesson at the very spot where Harry Potter learned to fly, and explore Alnwick’s cobbled streets afterwards where you will find a witch-themed cafe, one of the largest secondhand bookshops in Europe, a treehouse restaurant and, of course, The Alnwick Garden. 5) Take it over-easy           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by ABIGAIL ♡ TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE (@abigailrose_94) For those tired teachers or anyone wanting a break, how about a sumptuous spa day at staggering Matfen Hall. This magnificent country house hotel is set in the heart of some of Northumberland's most beautiful countryside and offers a luxurious leisure club featuring a swimming pool, gym, aerobics studio and 5 beauty treatment rooms. Make this a getaway by booking a stay in one of their elegant hotel rooms, enjoy dinner in their grand but inviting Emerald Restaurant, and how about a round of golf at their fantastic 27-hole golf course. 6) Spring into Northumberland's gardens           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by The Alnwick Garden (@alnwickgarden) Northumberland has a number of flourishing gardens to boast about and they look particularly dashing in spring. The Alnwick Garden is brimming with daffodils at this time of year and Prunus blossom flutters in the breeze in the Ornamental Garden. The Poison Garden is as exciting as ever and, if you dare to enter, you can expect to discover around 100 deadly, toxic, intoxicating, and narcotic plants. The boundaries of the Poison Garden are kept behind black iron gates, so access is by guided tour only. Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens is another stunning spot to enjoy an Easter day out, particularly as they have their Easter trail. This cracking adventure quest involves a hunt for clues and challenges, as well as traditional Easter games like egg rolling and the egg and spoon race. Track down the Easter eggs and you’ll be rewarded with a chocolate treat and an adventurer’s certificate. 7) Eat your way through Easter Sunday           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by JULIA🤍FOOD BLOG (@belterbait) A roast dinner is an absolute must during the Easter period and what’s better than letting someone else do the cooking and the washing up for you by going out to eat. Northumberland has so many cosy pubs offering fresh, local pub grub, such as The Holly Bush Inn. Based in Northumberland National Park, it was an Old Drovers Inn dating back more than 300 years. A bar stocked with real ales, snug interior and friendly atmosphere makes it a great place for a relaxed meal with family and friends. The Barrasford Arms is another excellent option, serving traditional local food to the highest standard, from a chef whose experience in fine dining makes for exquisitely fresh meals. Dine in the cosy restaurant or, if the sun comes out (fingers crossed), eat al fresco in their spacious beer garden. 8) Find out what's hoppening at Bamburgh Castle           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Bamburgh Castle (@bamburgh_castle) Bamburgh Castle has a brimming events calendar ready for the Easter holidays. Go in search of clues on The Dragon Easter Trail and, once you’ve cracked the case, take the secret word to the Clock Tower Tea Room and claim your Easter treat. Visit Marley the Miniature Pony, the local celebrity who has appeared on Come Dine with me and Countryfile, for a short cart ride. Join an Easter crafts session or create a beautiful wreath at an Easter Wreath class using a variety of foliage including local ivy, seasonal greenery and early spring flowers, buds and blossom. Children age 8 and above can join the class, but this is also great for adults wanting to take something home to hang on their front door. Don’t forget to soak in the sea views, explore Bamburgh village and visit sweeping Bamburgh Beach while you’re here. 9) Go walking on egg shells           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Visit Northumberland (@visitnorthumberland) There’s nothing better than a beautiful spring walk at Easter time. The sun often decides to make an appearance, early spring flowers can be spotted and fellow walkers give off the relaxed atmosphere that can only be found on someone who has a few days off work. Keep your eyes peeled for Cragside House, Gardens and Estate’s brand new Gorge Walk, complete with trickling streams and picturesque scenery that will make the perfect family walking route. Or walk a section of the Coast to Coast on the Ravenber Way route, a 210½ mile coast-to-coast walk across northern England from Ravenglass in Cumbria to Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland. Northumberland offers so many different walking routes that can be enjoyed at this time of year, from family-friendly and short walking routes to longer, more challenging hikes. National Park routes, coastal walks and nature trails are all here in Northumberland waiting to be walked all over.  10) One for the history teachers           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Andy (@andyck87) A fantastic family day out, or maybe one for the history teachers to get stuck into, spend the Easter season in Corbridge, the historical market town complete with stunning architecture, fantastic pubs on almost every corner, independent shops and bakeries and one of the oldest historical sites in Northumberland. Corbridge Roman Town was once a bustling town and supply base where Romans and civilians would pick up food and provisions. It remained a vibrant community until the end of Roman Britain and today you can wander through the town’s streets and imagine life as a Roman. The museum is also home to the Corbridge Collection, the largest of the Hadrian's Wall's collections. We hope we have left you with enough inspiration to have a fantastic Easter trip to Northumberland. Tag us in your Easter adventures at @visitnorthumberland or use the hashtag #visitnorthumberland. Author: Jenni Meikle  
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18 March 2022

Visiting Duddo and Twizel by Fabulous North

Ah Northumberland. With its sprawling countryside, endless coast and serious abundance of castles, there is always something to find for your next adventure. If you are visiting from afar or even nearby, it’s easy to be drawn to the undeniably beautiful big hitters. Who hasn’t searched for things to do and been drawn to magical Alnwick Castle, astounding Hadrian’s Wall or mesmerising Bamburgh? But there are many hidden gems to be found too if you know where to look. In this post, Fabulous North are going to be exploring some fabulous places in the Duddo area, right at the top of Northumberland.  Duddo Stones           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Elisha (@elishascott_photography) Northumberland is not known for its wealth of stone circles and the Duddo Five Stones are probably the best we have to offer. These 4,000 year old stones sit right in the middle of the countryside with a kilometre walk through fields to get there, so their remoteness just adds to the mystery. There were originally 7 stones before 3 went missing with a further stone being added back in 1903 to improve the skyline bringing it to the 5 we see today. Regardless of the season you visit the Duddo Stones they are so picturesque that they look spectacular in all conditions. The stones also offer amazing views over the Cheviot Hills to the south and the Lammermuir Hills to the north. Duddo Tower Visitors to Duddo tend to be attracted to the stones, but don’t realise there is also a ruined tower nearby. Perched up some crags in the middle of the village, it was originally a 15th century tower house and defensive enclosure (a barmkin – love that word), built by the Clavering family. However it was destroyed by King James IV of Scotland. If you know your local history, he ruined a lot of castles and buildings in Northumberland during his reign. The remains were then integrated into a tower house and the ruins you see date to around the 16th century. There is a small path around the back of the tower if you fancy wandering up, but it can be a little overgrown, so take care.  Twizel Bridge           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Claire Johnson (@claire_johnson_photography) Just 3 miles west of Duddo you’ll find a charming Tudor arch bridge that was built in 1511. Although it may not look imposing now it was actually the largest single span bridge anywhere in Britain at its time and the only dry crossing over the River Till between Etal and the Tweed. Now King James IV of Scotland, who we mentioned in the Duddo Tower summary above, had a few invasions into England with the most famous (and his last) being the Battle Of Flodden in 1513. Both the Scottish and English crossed this bridge on their way to the battle with the English traversing with over 10,000 men and a cannon. There is a small car park and information board right next to the bridge. Twizel Castle After you have marvelled at the bridge, then take the track up into the woods and within a few minutes you will find the ruined Twizel Castle. Sir John Heron owned a medieval house on these grounds, but was destroyed in 1496 by the Scottish army commanded by King James IV of Scotland and subsequently the grounds were then abandoned. Nearly 150 years later Sir Francis Blake purchased the estate, living there until 1738 when they moved to Tillmouth Hall. The Blake family attempted to rebuild the castle into a five level mansion, but it was never complete and in 1882 they used the stone from the castle to build a new mansion on Tillmouth Park. There is still plenty of the castle to see and would have garnered amazing views over the Till.  We hope this has given you a tast of some fabulous places for the next time you are on an adventure in Northumberland. This blog was written by Fabulous North. Head over to their website for more travel inspiration on the north of England. Author: Simon Hawkins  
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11 March 2022

Why go abroad...

...when you can go up north... Going abroad has been tricky for the last couple of years, and now many of us have the staycation bug, re-discovering home soil and looking to the UK for an unforgettable staycation. Who needs to go overseas anyway, when you have staggering beaches, fascinating history, incredible wildlife, and diverse landscapes on your doorstep? We are celebrating English Tourism Week by rounding up things to do in Northumberland that will make you forget all about going abroad. Switch the following for a staycation in Northumberland this year and discover our endless experiences… Croatia’s waterfalls         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Visit Northumberland (@visitnorthumberland) If you were hoping to head to Croatia this year, wander from waterfall to waterfall in Northumberland National Park instead. Nestled away in the idyllic Breamish Valley is Linhope Spout, a 60 foot chute of water that rushes into a 16ft deep plunge pool. Hareshaw Linn sits just a stone’s throw away from Bellingham, where secrets of St Cuthbert, an abundance of walking routes, and stone cottages adorned with ivy are all closeby. Seemingly secret Roughtin Linn, where you could almost miss the narrow path that leads down to it, tumbles in a secluded spot in Ingram Valley in The Cheviots. Where to stay: The Holly Bush Inn Idyllic islands         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by ilovefridaysme (@ilovefridaysme) For an idyllic island escape, simply venture across Lindisfarne causeway and visit Holy Island. This tidal island holds an ancient priory, an enchanting castle and Gertrude Jekyll Garden, and of course shimmering sea views fit to soothe the soul. Sip on Lindisarne Mead at St Aidan’s Winery and stop for a coffee at Pilgrim’s Coffee House. *Always check safe crossing times before visiting Holy Island. Where to stay: The Lindisfarne Inn Rome’s history          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Kate (@moira.willow) When in Northumberland, do as the Romans do… from Hadrian’s Wall that plunges across Northumberland’s rugged landscapes, to the Roman auxiliary fort Vindolanda where ancient artefacts are uncovered during excavations every summer, Northumberland boasts a host of Roman history. Secrets of the Roman Empire are scattered across our countryside in our Roman Baths, Corbridge Roman Old Town and numerous forts. Where to stay: The Barrasford Arms The Azores’ dolphins          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Lindisfarne Mead (@lindisfarne_mead) It’s not just foreign seas that boast dazzling dolphin displays. Bottlenose dolphins are regulars on the Northumberland coast, and they have a habit of showing off to visitors. They can be seen from many points along our coast, but to heighten your chances, take a boat trip with Berwick Boat Trips. Heading out to the mouth of the River Tweed, regular sightings take place along with grey seal spotting. Venture over to The Farne Islands on a boat trip from Seahouses harbour and keep an eye out for dolphins while you’re admiring the puffins, as they love to race the boats in this area too.   Where to stay: The Walls B&B Canada’s log cabins          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by JACK | Adventure + Travel (@jackboothby) Craving a cosy, Canadian-style log cabin getaway in the heart of nature? Northumberland’s remote treehouses, huts and cabins are the perfect fix for a rustic retreat. Woodland Chase’s glamping cabins and treehouse with hot tubs and wooden terraces, Huts in the Hills’ huts with spectacular views and outdoor copper bath tub, and Alnmouth Shoreside Huts that teeter on our staggering coastline are just a few options. Not to mention Hesleyside Huts’ cabins and brand new treehouse accommodation nestled away in Hesleyside Estate, or Kielder’s glass-roofed Sky Den that’s perfect for stargazing. Iceland’s sealife          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Roberto Sauli (@sauliroberto) Iceland’s marine life is one of its highlights, but you don’t have to travel there to see adorable puffins and incredible whales. Visit The Farne Islands from Seahouses harbour with Serenity or Billy Shiels boat tours and you can see thousands of colourful puffins and lazing grey seals. Humpback and killer whales are also known to have been spotted off Northumberland’s coastline. Where to stay: Seahouses Holiday Homes Japan’s cherry blossoms          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Lulu Knowles (@lulu_knowles_uk) If you’ve always wanted to walk beneath Japan’s famous Taihaku cherry blossom trees, you don’t have to travel as far as you think. Every spring, from the end of April to the beginning of May, The Alnwick Garden boasts the largest collection of ‘Taihaku’ cherry blossoms in the world. Comprising of 329 trees, they all bloom for a short-but-sweet two week period, when you can watch them fluttering above you while you wander through the orchard and relax on the swinging benches. Where to stay: Village Farm Cottages Norway’s Northern Lights         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Coast & Country Northumberland (@coastandcountrynorthumberland) Beautiful Norway is known for its dazzling Northern Lights displays and star-studded night skies, but did you know you can see the Northern Lights in Northumberland? We’re fortunate enough to have extremely low levels of light pollution, making Northumberland one of the best places in the country to go stargazing. The Northern Lights have been known to dance over our coastline, and the whole of Northumberland National Park and most of Kielder Water & Forest Park make up our International Dark Sky Park. Both Kielder Observatory and Battlesteads Observatory host awe-inspiring stargazing events, where you can see thousands of stars, the Milky Way, and the Andromeda Galaxy with the naked eye. Where to stay: Kielder Waterside Mediterranean beaches         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Harley Bean (@harleyannx) Crystal clear water, pristine sand and exquisite seafood aren’t specific to overseas. Northumberland’s coast is an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, meaning it has been recognised for its distinctive character, striking beauty and outstanding wildlife. Endless beaches, quiet bays and countless castles sit along the stretch from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Seaton Sluice, just waiting to be discovered. Where to stay: Cherry Tree & Almond Apartments Show us your staycation adventures by tagging us on social media and using the hashtag #visitnorthumberland. Author: Jenni Meikle
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24 February 2022

Where to stargaze in Northumberland

572 square miles of Northumberland have been awarded Gold Tier status for their dark skies. This makes up Northumberland’s Dark Sky Park which is the largest in the UK and the second largest in the whole of Europe, spanning Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water and Forest Park. So, when autumn falls over the county and the nights become longer and darker, visitors arrive with their binoculars ready for a star-studded show. Now you know that Northumberland is one of the best places to stargaze in the UK, where do you start? It may sound daunting to beginners, but there are experts here in Northumberland who are passionate about teaching visitors everything there is to know about astronomy. If you do want to do it independently, all you need are some warm clothes, a deckchair, a flask, a pair of binoculars and a little bit of luck with the weather. Plus, of course, our tips on where to go to have the best possible experience… Night time novices Kielder Observatory           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Kielder Observatory (@kielderobservatory) If you prefer a bit of guidance while you stargaze, everyone from night-time-novices to astronomy experts can head to Kielder Observatory for events that are out of this world. Sitting beneath Northumberland’s vast, Gold Tier status International Dark Sky Park, their telescopes sit in concrete pillars for outstanding levels of stability. Some are even computer controlled meaning any visitor can experience the thrill of "driving" a telescope around the skies with just the click of a mouse. From beginners’ Introductions to Astronomy to Physics in the Forest and everything in between, there is an event to suit every ability. Take a look at their events calendar. Stargaze until you fall asleep at Falstone Barns and PoshHuts. Nestled in the North Tyne valley, close to Kielder Observatory and Kielder Water and Forest Park, it is perfectly located for stargazing. Offering beautifully converted former stables and gloriously glamorous shepherds huts, there’s something for every group type. Battlesteads Observatory           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Inn Places (@innplaces) Battlesteads is the only hotel in the country with an on-site observatory and its magical location means that there is just as much to do after the sun sets as there is during the day. Battlesteads Observatory's accessible, public astronomical observatory offers sessions that range from Astronomy for Absolute Beginners to Stargazing and Moonwatch. You can even have a Shooting Star Supper and dine on fresh food from the award-winning hotel that is attached to the observatory while you stargaze. (Tele)scope out your options on their events calendar. Stargaze until you fall asleep in Battlesteads’s cosy accommodation that is just a few steps away from the observatory. Choose from snug hotel rooms filled with cushions and blankets-galore, or treat yourself to a stay in a private eco lodge with its own terrace for some independent, late-night stargazing (not to mention a relaxing, super-sized spa bath). The Twice Brewed Inn           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Twice Brewed (@twicebrewedinn) Tucked away in Northumberland National Park, The Twice Brewed Inn isn’t just known for its excellent pints and stunning location. The pub has recently taken action to make the most of its situation beneath Northumberland’s International Dark Sky Park and now offers stargazing events. With a team of in-house astronomers, you can enjoy an inspiring presentation before heading outdoors for a laser guided tour of the constellations. Then, observe incredibly distant objects including planets, galaxies, nebulae and star clusters using large aperture telescopes. Plus, you can do it all with a pint in hand! Stargaze until you fall asleep in The Twice Brewed Inn’s snug hotel rooms and wake up to a hearty Northumbrian breakfast, and Northumberland National Park and Hadrian’s Wall on your doorstep. Strong independent stargazers Dark Sky Discovery Sites           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Alpha Bravo Photography (@alphajphoto) The beauty of Dark Sky Discovery Sites is that you can do some solitary stargazing – all you need is warm clothing and maybe a pair of binoculars if you want to get up close and personal with the night’s sky. Dark Sky Discovery Sites are locations that are internationally recognised for their lack of light pollution, clear view of the sky and public access and many of them are scattered across Northumberland National Park. Each one has been awarded special status due to the outstanding quality of its dark skies and given one of two darkness ratings; “Orion” where the seven main stars in the constellation Orion are visible to the naked eye and “Milky Way” sites where the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye. Take a look at the Go Stargazing website where you’ll find a map of Northumberland’s Dark Sky Discovery Sites that you’d be lost without! Or, click through to Northumberland National Park's list of stargazing spots. Stargaze until you fall asleep with Breamish Valley Cottages. They list number of stunning self-catering cottages based in the Northumberland Dark Sky Park, conveniently located near Dark Sky Discovery Sites.  Northumberland’s Coastline           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Dan Monk (@danmonk91) Head to the coast where the sand is your seat and the sound of crashing waves accompanies your stargazing experience. The dazzling Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights, have been known to grace the skies above the Northumberland coastline. The dark expanse of sky over the ocean and the limited street lighting along this official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty means that, even in towns and villages, it is possible to enjoy the darkness of Northumberland’s skies. With more than 30 miles of beaches, there are castles on the coast, hidden bays and dramatic, sweeping vistas that make amazing Aurora viewpoints. Stargaze until you fall asleep at Cherry Tree and Almond Apartments. Boasting five luxury, dog friendly self-catering holiday homes, each one is tailor-made for couples seeking the perfect coastal escape. When to stargaze You can stargaze all year round, but the best time is autumn and winter.  When temperatures dip, the sky is at its most transparent and the darker nights make these seasons the prime viewing time. That's when the shivering river of stars that is the Milky Way can be spotted overhead. Now you are fully equipped to discover Northumberland's Dark Sky Park and pristine coastline and reap the rewards of staying out after sunset on the cold nights. Author: Jenni Meikle
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19 January 2022

22 for 2022

We have rounded up 22 things to do in Northumberland in 2022, so you can scroll through our ideas, add them to your bucket list, and book your next trip for a year filled with endless experiences in Northumberland. Make sure you tag us in your Northumberland adventures at @visitnland/ @visitnorthumberland and use the hashtag #endlessexperiences. 1) Party like it's AD122           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Visit Hadrian's Wall (@visithadrianswall) 2022 marks some huge anniversaries in Northumberland, including Hadrian’s Wall 1900, marking 1900 years since the building of Hadrian’s Wall. Celebrate along the wall throughout the year, as hundreds of events will take place during 2022 to mark the occasion. Vindolanda’s summer of excavations, Haltwhistle Walking Festival and a Midsummer Evening in Corbridge are just a few of the events taking place in Northumberland this year. Discover more events on the official Hadrian’s Wall 1900 website. 2) Go on a safari           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Patrick Norris (@patrick.norris.581) Go on an adventure with the special Ingram Valley Farm Safari, a new Northumberland experience launched in 2021. Starting at Ingram Bridge car park, the fantastic Patrick from Footsteps in Northumberland and a member of the Wilson family will take you on a journey through time, discovering what has shaped this beautiful valley for over a millennia and beyond. Immerse yourself in 6,000 years of farming history as we take you chapter by chapter through myth, legend, nature and the history of England’s largest scheduled ancient monument at Ingram Valley Farm.  Half way through, you will pause for a picnic provided by Ingram Cafe, complete with fresh, local ingredients.  3) Find out where the magic happens           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Hallow & Crux (@hallowandcrux) If you’re a Harry Potter fan, then Alnwick is the place for you. Visit the cobbled market town of Alnwick and discover the magic at Alnwick Castle, known for its starring debut as Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, for a Harry Potter-themed tour or a broomstick lesson. Then, sleep like a wizard in Alnwick’s exciting and newly renovated hotel Hallow and Crux, which holds four individually designed rooms with a whimsical, witchy twist. Pick from The Common Room, The Dumbledorm, The Marauders and The Chamber and experience the magic for yourself.   4) Car Gaze       View this post on Instagram A post shared by @elishascott_photography on Oct 9, 2018 at 9:26am PDT There are few places in the UK where you can pull over, turn off your headlights, allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness and admire the dazzling sight of Gold Tier Status Dark Skies. In Northumberland, 572 square miles of Gold Tier Dark Skies await your arrival, so fill your boot with a deck chair, flask and binoculars and venture to one of the county’s Dark Sky Discovery Sites. If the conditions are right and the sky is clear, you can gaze at dazzling stars and admire Orion or The Milky Way with the naked eye. 5) DO n’t go chasing waterfalls         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by imogen banks (@imogenbanks) Wander into the wilds of Northumberland and you just might find an unexpected opening where a whimsical waterfall tumbles into a bottomless plunge pot. Roughting Linn and Hareshaw Linn all wait at the end of hidden trails and off-the-beaten-track routes, making perfect picnic spots and even somewhere to dip your toes after a long walk. 6) Much Ado about Puffins       View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ian Henderson (@ianhendersonimages) on Dec 10, 2019 at 2:53pm PST Head to Seahouses between March – October and book a Farne Islands boat trip with Billy Shiel Farne Island Tours or Serenity Farne Island Tours. Adorably clumsy puffins and lolloping seals reside at The Farne Islands, where birds rule the roost and humans are in the minority, and seals are regularly spotted lazing on the rocks.  7) Wake up on the bright side of the bed       View this post on Instagram A post shared by Stablewood Coastal Cottages (@stablewood_coastal_cottages) on Sep 10, 2019 at 1:14pm PDT Watch the sky become emblazoned with oranges, pinks and reds over Northumberland’s staggering coastline and capture it on camera if you can. Northumberland’s sunrises are well worth the early wake up, so just remember that when your alarm disturbs your slumber. While the experience is spectacular year round, people fall for the horizon most in autumn as the colours are simply magical. 8) Whatever floats your goat       View this post on Instagram A post shared by Explore Northumberland (@explorenorthumberland) on Apr 9, 2019 at 1:43pm PDT Go wild cheviot goat spotting and enjoy an al fresco dinner with Wild Intrigue’s Goats and Gourmet activity. Cheviot Goats are members of one of the oldest herds of wild animals in Britain, and are a rare find roaming in the Cheviots. The trip is followed by an al fresco gourmet meal prepared by local chef Chris from Fells Kitchen while you take in the breath taking College Valley views. If you like the sound of this, you’ve goat to try their other activities too, such as Bats and Pizza, Moths and Muffins and more. 9) Find your Porpoise       View this post on Instagram A post shared by Pot A Doodle Do (@pot_a_doodle_do) on Jun 21, 2019 at 11:37pm PDT The romantic River Tweed is a sight to behold, as Berwick’s three iconic bridges stand proudly over its shimmering water. Hop on board The Border Rose with Berwick Boat Trips and sail out to sea in search of the dolphins that are regularly sighted at the mouth of the river. David and crew will open your eyes to Berwick’s tumultuous history while you keep them peeled for the water’s wildlife. 10) See the Rolling Stones       View this post on Instagram A post shared by Matt Wood (@matt.jwood) on Jan 1, 2020 at 11:19am PST Northumberland boasts the longest stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, the fascinating Roman remains that delve and dive across the rolling Northumberland National Park landscape. Step into your hiking boots and explore one of the National Park routes where iconic sites such as Sycamore Gap, Roman Forts and ancient temples can all be discovered and the wall is with you every step of the way. Want to walk the length of the wall without being weighed down by your luggage? Let Hadrian's Wall Baggage Transfer do the heavy lifting for you.  11) Hang out in Kielder Water & Forest Park       View this post on Instagram A post shared by Discover Northumberland (@discovernland) on Aug 18, 2019 at 12:38pm PDT This one is a beginner adrenaline-junkie’s dream; Calvert Kielder’s ZipCoaster has you soaring through the air in roller-coaster-esque ups, downs, twists and turns. Securely strapped into a harness, the thrilling ride gives you a free-flying sensation and, like all of Calvert Kielder’s activities, is completely accessible, so users with a disability can enjoy the ride. 12) Get to know a telescope       View this post on Instagram A post shared by Kielder Observatory (@kielderobservatory) on May 7, 2019 at 11:39am PDT As well as doing some independent stargazing, you might want a bit of guidance when you’re gazing into the galaxy. Northumberland’s observatories are here to help, offering everything from beginners’ workshops to experienced astronomy events. Kielder Observatory, which sits directly below the International Dark Sky Park, and Battlesteads, the award-winning, sustainable hotel that has its own observatory, are two excellent examples. 13) Nama-stay in a hot tub lodge         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Sandra Tang (@sandratang) Treat yourself, you deserve it! Soak off a tough year in a hot tub haven in one of Northumberland’s lodges and cottages. Unwind in Village Farm’s health club, bask in the bubbles of your private hot tub at Kielder Waterside lodges, or stay in The Little Owl Cottage at Border Forest and sink into your own jacuzzi. 14) Be OAR-some         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Landal Kielder Waterside (@landalkielderwaterside) Paddle past Warkworth Castle or into the estuary (depending on tide levels) with a two hour canoe tour along the River Coquet, or kayak over to Coquet Island and drift past puffins on an incredible wildlife excursion with Adventure Northumberland. Stand-up paddle board beside a castle on our coastline, or on breath-taking Kielder reservoir, and kayak over its calm waters.  15)  Walk a mile in someone else's shoes         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Cherry Cottage (@crastercottage) Let Footsteps in Northumberland lead the way along The Pilgrim's Way and follow in the footsteps of 6th century saints across the causeway to Lindisfarne Island. From April to September, hundreds of grey seals gather on the sandbanks, and from October to March thousands of migrating birds fill the bay and make this trip a wildlife lover's paradise. *Always check safe crossing times for Lindisfarne Island ahead of visiting. 16) Have your pick of the bunch         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Discover Northumberland (@discovernland) Pick your food straight from the forest and onto the plate with a Northern Wilds Wild Food Forage Feast course. Their emphasis on gut health, wellbeing and the benefits of eating fresh, natural produce will make you come away wanting to escape to the wilderness and live on wild mushrooms and berries. On their full day tour, they prepare the day’s harvest in a wild food wagon and turn it into a delicious feast so you can taste your picks there and then. 17) Give yourself a push         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by @eco_cabs Get on yer’ bike and freewheel through forests, countryside and coast in Northumberland. We have gentle, circular routes for families, off-road adventures for the experienced cyclists, and scenic routes perfect for sight-seeing by bike. Hire everything while you're here with our fantastic bike hire services like Pedal Power, or book a guided cycling trip to Northumberland with Saddle Skedaddle who offer itineraries along our fantastic coastline, on the Sandstone Way and more. 18) Branch out         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Hesleyside Huts 🌿 (@hesleysidehuts) Feel the magic of sleeping in the treetops in one of Northumberland's awe-inspiring self-catering tree houses. Both Hesleyside Huts and Woodland Chase offer fairytale stays in a mystical woodland setting where you are quite literally immersed in nature, nestled away in the trees.  19) Fifty shades of Earl Grey       View this post on Instagram A post shared by @theteatraveller on Nov 3, 2019 at 11:39am PST Howick Hall was the home of Charles Grey who, in the 1830s, received a tea blend from a Chinese mandarin as a gift. The tea had been specially blended with bergamot to suit the water from the spring at Howick Hall and, after Lady Grey served it to numerous guests, it became so popular that British tea merchants requested permission to replicate it. Today, it is known as Earl Grey, and it is pretty much essential to stop at Howick Hall Tea Room for a pot of the refreshing beverage in what was once the ballroom of the Grey family’s residence. 20) Discover your roots       View this post on Instagram A post shared by Sophie Pearce Travel Blogger (@thirdeyetraveller) on Jun 14, 2019 at 10:00am PDT Get outside and experience the healing powers of nature in Northumberland. Visit the cobbled market town of Alnwick in spring and spend a magical day amongst The Alnwick Garden’s cherry blossoms and Alnwick Castle’s grounds. The Alnwick Garden has a short window between the end of April and the beginning of May where their collection of Taihaku cherry blossoms (the largest in the world) blooms. Relax on one of the swinging benches amongst the fluttering blossom trees before heading to Alnwick Castle, whose surroundings become flooded with daffodils in the springtime. Warkworth Castle also shines brightly in spring due to its host of surrounding daffodils, or visit Cragside at the end of May/ beginning of June to see the staggering rhododendrons that are dotted around the grounds. 21) Love is ale you need       View this post on Instagram A post shared by scotland247 (@scotland247) on Jun 22, 2019 at 8:08am PDT Tucked away in the heart of Ford & Etal Estate sits the only thatched pub in Northumberland, The Black Bull Inn. Managed by the brand new Cheviot Brewery who brew real ale just up the road, you can taste local tipples and enjoy a pint or two in the cosy, stone interior and by a warming open fire. 22) Watch a film that ends in ruins       View this post on Instagram   Staggering, iconic and magnificent no matter when you visit, Bamburgh Castle dominates Northumberland’s coastline as you approach the village of Bamburgh. Stay in the castle grounds after sunset for one of its magical and spell-binding outdoor cinema viewings, where towering turrets are the back-drop and crashing waves are the soundtrack. Author: Jenni Meikle
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26 November 2021

Places to eat in Northumberland this winter

Find some of the best places to eat in Northumberland this winter with our cosy cafes, festive restaurants, snug pubs and Christmas markets. Whether you are looking for indulgent comfort food, delicious Christmas dinners, somewhere for a work's Christmas meal or a family celebration, Northumberland can cater for all of your Noel needs:   Battlesteads           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Battlesteads Hotel (@battlesteads) Located in the picturesque village of Wark, there’s something for everyone at Battlesteads Hotel and Restaurant. Eco warrior? Their seasonal menu uses only fresh ingredients grown on site or sourced from local artisan producers within a 25-mile radius. Craft ale connoisseur? Battlesteads bar stocks four cask ales including two from local micro-breweries and they host an annual beer festival.  By day, Battlesteads sits in the heart of rural Northumberland, making it a cosy pitstop at the end of a long winter walk on Hadrian’s Wall or a bike ride through Kielder Water and Forest Park. By night, combine dinner and a star-studded show thanks to their on-site observatory, one of Northumberland’s prime Dark Sky Discovery sites.  Top tip: You can stargaze at any time of the year in Northumberland due to our low levels of light pollution, but cooler temperatures and darker skies means it is a fantastic winter activity.  Barrasford Arms           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Barrasford Arms (@barrasfordarms) If you’re in the mood to indulge a sophisticated palate this winter, look no further than the Barrasford Arms. Nestled in the heart of Hadrian’s Wall country, this picturesque country pub offers a menu fit for an Emperor. Before taking over the Barrasford in 2017, owner Michael worked in top kitchens across the North East and Scotland, earning his stripes as executive head chef at Slaley Hall and Malmaison Hotel in Dundee. This wealth of experience shines through in the elegant menu of this AA Rosette restaurant. Top tip: Pre-booking a table is essential. The Inn Collection Group           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by The Inn Collection Group (@theinncollectiongroup) Wherever you are in Northumberland, you can rely on the Inn Collection Group to provide a warm and welcoming retreat from the cold winter weather.  Making the most of its harbourside location in Seahouses, a quick look out of the dining room of the Bamburgh Castle Inn is all you need to see where its name came from. Whether you’re in need of a hearty meal after a boat tour around the Farne Islands or you’ve been for a ramble down the Northumberland Coast AONB, this cosy pub and restaurant has laid-back atmosphere and a menu full of favourites to suit all members of the family.  Located in the eponymous fishing village of Amble, The Amble Inn is the newest addition to the Inn Collection Group’s inns. The restaurant and bar has a contemporary feel, blending rustic brick and wood beams with quirky floral wallpaper and upholstery to create a welcoming atmosphere for both couples and families alike. The perfect spot to chill out after a day out at Warkworth Castle or the nearby Hauxley Nature Reserve at Druridge Bay.  Top tip: The Inn Collection group have three more inns across Northumberland: The Lindisfarne Inn (Beal, near Holy Island), The Hog’s Head Inn (Alnwick) and The Commissioners Quay Inn (Blyth). You’ll find a fantastic array of light bites and hearty meals at them all. The Drift Cafe           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by The Drift Cafe (@thedriftcafe) There’s nothing quite like a blustery beach walk to blow away the cobwebs and where better than along the pristine sands of Druridge Bay? This seven mile stretch of unspoilt coastline includes several nature reserves and three miles of uninterrupted beach fringed by tall dunes just waiting for you to run (or roll) down. Just a hop and skip over the dunes near Cresswell is where you’ll find the Drift Cafe. This bright and airy cafe is famous for its menu full of homemade tasty treats, freshly-prepared with each order. From delicious cakes to hot pies, bowls of hearty soup and jacket potatoes, it’s the perfect retreat at the end of a wintery day out at Druridge Bay.  Believe us when we say the Drift is just as much a favourite Northumbrian residents as it is with visitors - you know a place is good when the locals can’t get enough. Our fave? The corned beef and brown sauce toastie. Trust us, it’s heaven. Top tip: Be sure to browse the array of art, bric-a-brac and secondhand books found around the cafe. It is a treasure trove of local history and mining memorabilia.  Bosk Restaurant           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by B&B - Bistro - Wine Bar (@the_bosk_bvc) This brand new restaurant and wine bar in the heart of the Breamish Valley is quickly becoming the place to be. Their Sunday Brunch menu is regularly a sell-out event. Thanks to their themed nights - Family Feast on Wednesday, Steak Night on Thursday, Pizza Night on Friday and Supper Club on Saturday - The Bosk really does cater for everyone. What makes The Bosk special is the way it centres everything around one common goal: bringing people together.  The gable end of the building is one giant window, making the most of their breathtaking surroundings. Where better to watch the winter sky darken and the stars come out as you enjoy a get together with friends?  Top-tip: The Bosk is only open from late afternoon until 10pm Wednesday-Saturday and 9am-1pm on a Sunday, so be sure to plan ahead if you’re keen to visit.  Foxton’s Wine Bar           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Foxtons_winebar (@foxtons_winebar) You can’t visit Northumberland without sampling some delicious seafood caught off the North Sea coast.  Foxton’s Wine Bar and Restaurant in Berwick-upon-Tweed is the only seafood restaurant in the town and works closely with fish merchants just over the border in Eyemouth to source the freshest ingredients for their menu. But never fear if you’re not a sea-foodie, you’ll find plenty of tasty morsels to take your fancy including five gourmet burgers named after landmarks in and around Berwick - ‘Tommy the Miller’ is a great veggie option. Top-tip: Book ahead and try their bottomless Prosecco and Brunch, available six days a week excluding Sunday. You won’t regret it! The Angel of Corbridge           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by The Angel of Corbridge (@angelcorbridge) When exploring Hadrian’s Wall country, you can rely on three things: epic scenery, ancient history and really good grub! At the Angel of Corbridge, you can experience all three at once.  Sitting in a prime spot in the centre of picturesque Corbridge and dating back to 1569, the Angel is said to be one of the oldest inns still standing in Northumberland. In winter, you can expect a roaring fire waiting for you in the cosy oak-panelled lounge and a menu fit to burst with hearty British pub grub like ham hock terrine with ‘proper’ pease pudding. Delicious! Just a short walk from Corbridge Roman Town, one of several Roman heritage sites along Hadrian’s Wall. Great for walkers, cyclists, families and even our four-legged friends.  Top-tip: Just popping in for a casual drink? Dogs are not permitted in the bar area, but you’ll find fire pits and covered gazebos outside to keep you cosy in any weather. Sanderson Arcade market           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Sanderson Arcade, Morpeth (@sandersonarcade) Staying in is the new going out and at Sanderson Arcade, Morpeth's Street Food Market, you’ll find lots of local produce to make a tasty tea at home. How about bangers and mash courtesy of regular traders Geordie Bangers and Julian’s Fruit and Veg? And for those with a sweeter tooth, you can’t beat the cakes from Murphy’s Kitchen. Before you go, take a wander through Sanderson Arcade for a spot of retail therapy. Bookworms can browse to their heart’s content in Waterstone’s, sartorialists have a range of choice from Sandersons Boutique to Mint Velvet and be prepared to lose dad for a while in Mountain Warehouse. You can even pick up a tipple or two at Morpeth Gin or Enjoy Beer & More and you’re ready for the perfect night in.  Date for the diary: Saturday 18th December Christmas markets            View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Alnwick Market (@alnwick_markets) Nothing beats a stroll through a Christmas market. Throughout December you’ll find markets across Northumberland, perfect for stocking up on gifts from local businesses. Treat yourself to a mulled wine, artisan coffee or street food while you browse to really ramp up that Christmassy feeling. Roasted chestnuts, anyone? Each weekend, make a beeline for our market towns to soak up their historic charm as you find the perfect present for that special someone. Berwick sees the welcome return of the Christmas Market on Marygate. Santa will be in attendance for the mini members of the family and there will be hot mulled wine stalls for mums and dads.  Fancy something a bit different this year? Farplace Animal Rescue is bringing a vegan Christmas market to Morpeth. Pop along to peruse food, drink and gifts from over 25 vegan stalls, and follow your nose to find mouthwatering Caribbean vegan street food courtesy of Brownin’s.  Even our four-legged friends can join in the festivities thanks to the dog-friendly Northumberlandia Christmas Food and Craft Market. After your shop, beat the chill with a walk around our Lady of the North then finish off with a hot chocolate or two in the visitor centre. We hope we've given you enough inspiration to fill your boots in Northumberland this winter. Don't forget to tag us in your festive foodie delights on social media using @visitnorthumberland.  
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11 November 2021

The magic of Harry Potter

Time flies! It’s hard to believe that on the 16th of November 2021 it’s 20 years since Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone first hit our screens!   To mark twenty magical years since November 2001, when the first film adaptation of J.K Rowling’s boy wizard was released in UK cinemas, we’ve created a muggles guide to Harry Potter filming locations you can visit here in North East England.   Alnwick Castle  The magnificent Alnwick Castle had a starring role in the first two Harry Potter movies.   The Outer Bailey is instantly recognizable as the backdrop for Harry and his fellow students first flying lesson in The Philosopher’s Stone. In the scene Neville’s broomstick goes rogue and Harry flies through the grounds to catch his Remembrall. The Outer Bailey is also where Harry learns the rules of Quidditch from Oliver, the Gryffindor Quidditch Team Captain.   Explore the grounds of Alnwick Castle imagining you are part of Madame Hooch’s flying lesson and join the resident wizarding professors for broomstick training sessions on the very spot where Harry, Ron and Hermione had their first lesson.   © Alan Mason Remember the scene in the Chamber of Secrets where Ron and Harry crash land the Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia car into the Whomping Willow, this was filmed at the castle’s Inner Bailey. The castle’s main courtyard was featured several times in both movies, including the scene where Harry and Ron complain about Hermione on their way to Potions lesion – “It’s LeviOsa not LeviosA”!    The splendid Lion Arch can be seen in the background when Harry, Ron and Hermione make their way to Hagrid’s hut and the Forbidden Forest.  Alnwick Castle is closed for the winter season, re-opening in Spring 2022.  Durham Cathedral   Several Harry Potter films were filmed at Durham Cathedral in Durham. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was originally brought to life at Durham Cathedral. Numerous memorable scenes were filmed at various locations throughout the cathedral for the first two movies – The Philosopher's Stone and The Chamber of Secrets.  The cathedral clositers are where young witches and wizards pass through the covered walkways in-between classes, Ron’s "eat slugs" spell backfires and he ends up vomiting slugs after trying to defend Hermione’s honour, and Harry earns Dobby the House Elf his freedom.  It was in the snow-covered cloisters where Harry releases Hedwig to stretch her wings and fly away over the snowy castle. As she flies off you can see the cathedral digitally enhanced to look like the grand Hogwarts castle.      Once the area where the daily business of the monastery was undertaken, the magnificent Chapter House was transformed into Professor McGonagall’s classroom. It’s in this classroom that the students are taught the magic of transfiguration where they turn animals into water goblets and where the Professor explains the history behind the chamber of secrets.  © Durham Cathedral Less well known is that the Triforium, which is an interior gallery overlooking the cathedral’s nave, doubled up as the Forbidden Corridor in which the young wizards encounter the terrifying three-headed dog Fluffy who is guarding a trap door leading to the Philosopher’s stone.  Recreate your favourite Harry Potter scenes when you visit the cloisters which are open throughout the year. The Chapter House is only open on special occassions and during events - so keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to step inside McGonagall's classroom. The Triforium is not open to the public.   The Cathedral is open Monday to Saturday 10am - 4pm and Sundays 12noon - 4pm.   Just a stone’s throw from Alnwick Castle you can sleep like a wizard, at the newly opened Hallow and Crux. Take your pick from four individually designed bedrooms with a wizardly, whimsical twist, or treat yourself to delicious food and potions in the adjoining Dirty Bottles restaurant. For witches and wizards looking to extend their stay when visiting Alnwick Castle, you can also stay at The Hog’s Head Inn, a three-star inn named after the wizarding inn and pub found in Hogsmeade.  The award-winning Lundgren Tours also offer family-friendly Harry Potter tours of Alnwick Castle, where you can learn how to become a wizard in the very same place as Harry and friends.   So if you’re a Potter fan, there's no need to wait for your invitation from Hogwarts, you can follow in the footsteps of Harry, Ron and Hermione any time you wish, by visiting the places where this incredible film franchise began!    
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