The kids are lying in bed all morning, dad’s rocking the socks and Crocs look and mum’s sunnies are fixed to her face whatever the weather. It can only mean one thing – summer is here, and your trip to Northumberland is just around the corner.
We may be biased, but we think it’s safe to say that Northumberland is the best place to spend your summer holiday. So, read on for our hints and tips on five of the best family days out in Northumberland.
1) A day of magic in Alnwick
Visiting spellbinding Alnwick is guaranteed to make for a magical family day out. Start with a visit to Alnwick Castle, known for its starring role as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Spot Harry Potter and Ron Weasley wand-ering the corridors, and enjoy a broomstick lesson on the very spot where Harry, Ron and Hermione learned to fly.
Enjoy lunch in the twinkling treetops of The Alnwick Treehouse (if you can make it across the wobbly bridge!) before visiting The Alnwick Garden. Admire the Grand Cascade, mysterious Poison Garden and romantic Rose Garden.
Don't miss Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery, which holds over 10,000 years of history in its charming stone walls, before heading to Lal Khazana to dine on delicious Indian cuisine on your way out of the town centre.
Make it an overnighter: Stay at Village Farm Cottages, just a ten minute drive from the centre of Alnwick in the old village of Shilbottle. The superb self-catering holiday cottage accommodation ranges from Scandinavian-style chalets to traditional stone-built cottages and a 17th century farmhouse. Plus, they have a Health Club equipped with a swimming pool and spa, perfect for the kids to play and parents to relax.
2) A day of time travel in Ford and Etal
Stepping out of your car at Ford and Etal Estates is like stepping out of Marty Mcfly’s DeLorean Time Machine. Start your day by learning to bake bread and grind flour in Heatherslaw Cornmill, the traditional, 700 year old corn mill that is still a working mill today. Take a bag of freshly ground coffee with you and head to Boes Café for coffee and cake, before boarding the steam train at Heatherslaw Light Railway to Etal.
Visit beautiful Etal Castle, currently offering free entry. Then, grab a bite to eat at the only thatched pub in Northumberland, The Black Bull. Take the perfect post-lunch walk down to the banks of The River Till and watch canoeists glide by on the sparkling water.
Return to Heatherslaw and pop into Lady Waterford Hall (a short walk or drive away). The old school house is now a gallery that is filled with Louise Waterford’s Pre-Raphaelite artwork. And finally, end your day by walking or driving to Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre to see the adorable horses, foals and piglets.
Make it an overnighter: Till River Fishing Holidays cottage accommodation lies only 200 yards away from the River Till, offering a large lawn area, a path leading down to the river, an apple and plum tree, and even a tennis court closeby. Make use of your self-catering facilities at mealtimes, or treat yourself to a meal cooked for you by Kooked North, who use all local produce to create beautiful dishes for guests.
3) A day to roam like the Romans in Hexham
Time your trip to Hexham with a Tuesday and start your morning with a mosey around Hexham Market. Freshly baked bread, organic fruit and veg, and locally sourced meats are just a few of the exquisite culinary offerings.
Visit Hexham Old Gaol, the prison that dates back to the 1300s where you can descend into the dungeons and even try out the stocks. Head into Hexham Abbey to admire the striking architecture. The monastery-turned-abbey was built in 674 AD using ancient stones from Hadrian’s Wall, and the eerie crypt from the original building still remains today. Then go for a wander around the idyllic Tyne Green’s lush green spaces, passing trickling streams and views of Hexham Bridge.
Take a short detour to The Barrasford Arms and grab a bite to eat, where you can fill up on a hearty pub meal or refuel with light bites and a drink. Then get back in the car and make your way to Vindolanda, or if you’d prefer not to drive, Ecocabs offer an excellent taxi service from Hexham to its nearby historical sites.
Once you’re there, see live excavations taking place by expert archaeologists and you might be lucky enough to witness some astounding ancient artifacts being revealed. Enter The Roman Army Museum to learn about the history of the site and see collections of incredible ancient finds that were dug up onsite.
Make it an overnighter: Hexham Holiday Homes sit in the heart of Hexham, making an excellent base for nearby restaurants, shops, and of course incredible historical sites such as Hadrian’s Wall and the many forts and attractions alongside it. Their variety of modern and traditional properties are all beautifully refurbished and offer different designs to suit every family’s tastes and holiday styles.
4) A day to al-paca your wetsuits in Kielder
Fill your day with activities and adventures in Kielder. Start with much-needed coffees and hot chocolates to fuel up for the day ahead at The Forest Bar and Kitchen. Make the most of their staggering, waterside outdoor seating area and enjoy the peaceful reservoir views before you take to the water yourself with Kielder’s guided watersports activities.
Northumbrian Water’s newest activity offering means you can admire Kielder reservoir from the water itself. Test dad’s balance on a stand up paddleboarding session, or discover the reservoir on a guided canoe tour.
Having surely worked up an appetite, drive to The Pheasant Inn for a delicious lunch and beautiful countryside views. Then, continue the adventure with a visit to Ferny Rigg, who run Alpaca Walks through Northumberland National Park. Get active and enjoy the fresh country air with an adorable, fluffy alpaca by your side. They are guaranteed to make the kids smile with their loveable nature and quirky charm.
Make it an overnighter: Falstone Barns offer four individually designed holiday apartments within a spectacular barn development. The two bedroom apartments generally sleep families of 4-5, and larger groups can reserve two or more apartments together. Or, go glamping in their PosHHuts, in an idyllic, rural setting and overlooking woodland, the river and stunning countryside. A King size bed, sofa and roaring wood burning stove are perfect to relax after a long day of exploring (more suitable for families with older children as the huts sleep 2).
5) A day of beaches and boat trips in Berwick
Start your day with a walk along the romantic River Tweed in Berwick, then climb on-board The Border Rose with Berwick Boat Trips, where you can sail beneath the magnificent Royal Border Bridge and into the mouth of the river for some seal and dolphin spotting.
Once you’re back on land, step into Berwick’s complex past and take yourself on a history tour through the cobbled streets. See Berwick Town Hall’s atmospheric jail cells where graffiti from unruly 18th century cellmates lines the walls, get an insight into a soldier’s life at Berwick Barracks and take a haunting walk along the Elizabethan Town Walls.
For an upmarket lunch, stop at Foxton's Wine Bar for exquisite seafood. If you’re looking for something a little more casual, grab a cafe lunch and eat it on the riverbanks at The Lookout Cafe and admire the waterside views.
Once you’ve filled your boots, take advantage of the town’s position along the coast and go for a family walk along barely-trodden Berwick beach, or striking Spittal Beach which lies less than two miles away.
Make it an overnighter: Sleeping up to 8 guests, Ness Street Holiday Cottage makes for a great family getaway. The cosy, four bedroom self-catering holiday home sits within Berwick’s historic town walls, and the sea is less than 100 yards away from this grade II listed building.
For more family activities and adventures, see our family friendly attractions page. Don't forget to tag us in your holidays snaps on social media via @visitnorthumberland or using our hashtag #endlessexperiences.
Author: Jenni Meikle