Walking at Lindisfarne Island, Northumberland

Sustainable weekend breaks in Northumberland

Sustainable breaks
New year, new you? We hear you. What could be better than resolving to live life a little more sustainably?

We’ve pulled together a couple of eco-friendly ideas for your next short weekend break in Northumberland: the Coastal Jaunt, the Rural Retreat and the Wildcard Weekend. Which one will you choose?

The Coastal Jaunt

From the historic border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed to the pretty harbour of Seaton Sluice, there’s something for everyone on the Northumberland coast. It’s an area of Northumberland known for beautiful beaches, iconic castles and one of the best places to see wildlife in the UK, the Farne Islands. But did you know it’s pretty environmentally-friendly too? 

Start as you mean to go on by leaving the car behind and travel to Northumberland by train to Alnmouth or Berwick. Once in Northumberland, travel along the coast by bus.

Stay: Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel

Where better to stay than the Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel in Embleton? It’s a great place for a warm welcome, hearty meal and a comfy bed. Eco credentials? The hotel is the proud owner of a Green Tourism Gold award, which recognises their commitment to being a more sustainable business. 

Not only that, Embleton sits within the Northumberland Coast National Landscape. This section of the Northumberland coastline has been protected under law since 1958 with the sole purpose of conserving and enhancing the area’s natural beauty for future generations. 

See: Woodhorn Museum 

A local icon in South East Northumberland, be sure to pop into Woodhorn Museum. Situated in Ashington, once the largest pit village in the world, Woodhorn tells the tale of Northumberland’s strong mining heritage. Explore the former colliery buildings, discover the artwork of the ‘Pitman Painters’ and the colourful banners of local mines, and experience life as a miner.

Museums Northumberland is committed to preserving Northumberland's heritage for the future and that includes the current natural environment. The organisation’s active ‘Green Team’ has introduced a variety of initiatives from composting cafe food waste to monitoring their healthy red squirrel population at Woodhorn. Activities such as this has seen them recognised by the Green Tourism Accreditation Scheme, with a Gold award for Woodhorn and a Silver award at Hexham Old Gaol

Better yet, Woodhorn is just a five minute drive to Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. There you’ll find a fantastic promenade for a bracing seaside stroll before a hot cuppa and a slice of cake in the Maritime Centre. Perfect.

Do: Walk to Holy Island

No visit to the Northumberland coast would be the same without a trip to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. It is thought approximately 650,000 people visit Holy Island every year and, frankly, it is not difficult to see why! In an age of instant everything, the gentle atmosphere of this ancient island cut off twice a day by the tide is the perfect antithesis to all of that. 

If you have brought the car, leave it behind on the mainland and join Footsteps in Northumberland on a walk across the sand to Lindisfarne via the Pilgrim’s Way. Marked by wooden posts exposed when the tide is out, you’ll be following in the footsteps of early Christians, saints and locals on a path which was the only safe route between the mainland and the island until 1954.

Once on the island, be sure to sample the iconic Lindisfarne Mead, and bask in the awe-inspiring views of Lindisfarne Priory and Lindisfarne Castle.Before your visit make sure to check for when you can safely cross the causeway by taking a look at Holy Island crossing tide times.

The Rural Retreat

There’s no better place to soak up Northumberland’s eco credentials than deep in the heart of our green fields and rolling hillsides. From Ford and Etal in the north to Allendale in the south, you’re spoiled for choice for sustainable holidays with stunning countryside vistas. One place that has to be at the top of that list? Hadrian’s Wall and the Tyne Valley.

See: Hadrian’s Wall

It has never been easier to explore Hadrian’s Wall via public transport. As with the Coastal Jaunt, you can travel to Northumberland by train, this time to Hexham in the south-west of the county. From there, hop on the Go North East AD122 and travel along the Roman Road. You can walk sections of Hadrian’s Wall and visit the many sites, Roman forts and attractions such as the fascinating Roman Vindolanda, owner of a Green Tourism Silver award. 

This year, the National Park Authority has pledged to provide as many events as possible at The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre and Walltown Country Park which start and end at times convenient to the AD122 bus timetable. 

Do: Wild food foraging

You can’t get much more sustainable than foraging for your own food, but it can be deadly if you don’t know what you’re doing. Thanks to a variety of workshops with Northern Wilds, you’ll soon learn how to identify edible wild foods and turn them into delicious seasonal meals. 

Stay: The Hytte 

After days filled with long walks, fascinating Roman history and wild food foraging, you’ll want somewhere to relax and unwind - preferably with green credentials. Look no further than The Hytte. Built in the style of a Norwegian timber lodge, this unique self-catering property in Bingfield near Hexham was designed with sustainability in mind. It features a turf roof for natural insulation, an electric vehicle (EV) charging point and uses renewable energy. Oh, and a hot tub to help you soothe those aching feet! It’s also a fully-accessible place to stay and sleeps 8 so it’s a great one for a holiday with all of the family.

The Wildcard Weekend

If you’re in the mood for something completely different, how about a cycling holiday? Travelling by bike has a relatively low carbon footprint and it is a fantastic way to see the county. There are endless cycle paths and mountain bike trails criss-crossing Northumberland, from short seaside stretches to challenging rugged routes, but one of our favourites has to be The Sandstone Way.

Do: The Sandstone Way with Saddle Skedaddle

This 120-mile mountain-bike path links the train towns of Berwick-Upon-Tweed and Hexham via numerous villages and small communities including Wooler, Rothbury and Bellingham. It takes its name from the Sandstone Ridge in North Northumberland and travels through some of the most diverse and picturesque landscapes Northumberland has to offer. 

Saddle Skedaddle offer self-guided and guided four day cycling trips covering The Sandstone Way. Starting in Newcastle before a transfer to the historical walled border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, you will head south along the dramatic Northumberland Coast before turning inland.

If you want to explore the route independently, it was specifically designed with diversity in mind. It can be completed in one journey or in several stages and it is bi-directional so you can travel north-south or south-north depending on your preference. But in the wise words of Treebeard from the Lord of the Rings, “I always like going south; somehow, it feels like going downhill.”

Stay: Wherever you need a rest

You’ll find a range of accommodation at regular intervals along the Sandstone Way. You just have to decide how many miles you can do in one day and when you’ll need a breather! Saddle Skedaddle's itinerary includes cosy, local hotels and B&Bs that are perfectly positioned en-route and, of course, have ample cycle storage and other necessary facilities for your trip.

Laverock Law Cottages in North Northumberland is a great sustainable choice. This nature-lovers paradise is currently the only tourism business in Northumberland signed up to the set of principles of the Terra Carta, the guiding mandate for HRH The Prince of Wales’s Sustainable Markets Initiative. Our favourite? The tree platform. It’s the perfect place to rest your weary head after a long day of cycling and enjoy the peace and quiet with a glass of your favourite tipple.

Need more inspiration and advice for planning your stay? Take a look at our guide to Northumberland accommodation, with info on the best stays in Northumberland’s National Park, to the perfect staycations for cyclists.

Mountain biking in purple heather
Family walk in Northumberland
Couple enjoying a boat trip
Hadrian's Wall
Surf Northumberland
Outdoor adventures in Northumberland

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