The kids are lying in bed all morning, dad’s socks and sandals are fixed to his feet and mum’s oversized sunglasses are shielding her eyes come rain or shine. It can only mean one thing – summer is here, and your trip to Northumberland is just around the corner.
After being voted the ‘Best UK Holiday Destination’ in The British Travel Awards 2018 (and nominated for the 2019 awards) it’s safe to say that Northumberland is the best place to spend your summer holiday, so read on for hints and tips on 10 of the best things to do in Northumberland this summer.
Better than your Back Garden
The Alnwick Garden
The Alnwick Garden is on every family’s bucket list when they come to Northumberland. Filled with corners to explore, areas to play and, of course, budding beauties to admire, The Rose Garden, The Ornamental Garden, The Poison Garden and more are all scattered throughout the site. The spectacular Grand Cascade, preceded by a large open space filled with deck chairs and wheelie toys such as mini go-karts, is there to be marvelled at, and families can go on a Giant Adventure by using a special, interactive app. Join the par-tee at their Forgotten Garden Adventure Golf and swing through giant insects, bright toad stools and secret doorways. You name it, The Alnwick Garden’s got it.
Wallington Hall & Gardens
This 1300 acre estate that dates back to the 1600s combines culture, heritage and beauty with active adventures. As well as serene, blooming gardens that are excellent for a family stroll, there are a number of kids’ activities as part of Wallington’s Summer of Sport programme that make it a must-do day out when you’re in Northumberland. From archery to orienteering, tennis to tug of war and rounders to cycle rides, weekly timetables can be found on their website. If you prefer some independent action, Mam and Dad can lead the way as you pedal across Wallington’s pathways on the Dragon cycle trail, taking you through whimsical woodland, past far-reaching fields and before breath-taking views.
A Summer that will Reign Over any Other
Board your broomsticks in a Quidditch lesson, spot Ron Weasley of Lundgren Tours wandering the castle grounds, and stroll through stunning state rooms. You can even make like a medieval citizen here, with 14th century costumes, crafts and a Dragon Quest (if you’re brave enough!). This iconic castle is spell-binding, breath-taking and there is absolutely always something going on here for families, as a jam-packed events programme will be running throughout summer. (Alnwick Castle image credit to David Jenkins).
Prepare to be enthralled and captivated by The King of Castles, whose imposing walls have been haunted by bloodshed and battle, impressive halls once held banquets and balls, and corridors hold enchanting myths that linger mysteriously. During summer, Lego Artists, Mini Pony rides and outdoor cinema viewings are just a few examples of family events that you can enjoy in the enchanting castle grounds.
For a Time Capsule Summer
Ford and Etal
Stepping out of your car in Ford and Etal is truly like stepping out of Marty Mcfly’s DeLorean Time Machine. You can learn to bake bread and grind flour in a traditional cornmill, picnic by the ruinous remains of Etal Castle, have a lemonade (or a pint) in the only thatched pub in Northumberland and visit Lady Waterford Hall, the old village school. Sitting in the valley of the River Till, you can stroll, cycle, or board a steam train through the magical estates, as Heatherslaw Light Railway runs between Heatherslaw and Etal Village.
Enter the Victorian world of Lord Armstrong when you visit Cragside, the house, gardens and woodland that are quite literally powered by the past as hydroelectricity is used to fuel the site. You can visit the working mill here, partake in a Victorian Baking session and sail the serene lake on a guided canoe tour. Spy the Armstrongs’ old family photos through a stereoscopic camera, and get lost in the historical gardens by exploring the interweaving labyrinth.
A Horrible History Holiday
Head to the first Roman Frontier in the north of England and watch ancient artefacts being uncovered by a team of archaeologists in-action. Here, numerous shoes, writing tablets and jewellery items from the 5th century are dug up and displayed in Vindolanda Museum. The large, pre-hadrianic bath house, several commanding officers’ residences and remains of 3rd and 4th century houses here mean you can follow in the exact footsteps of ancient Romans on their original turf. If you're tyre-d of doing all the driving, Go North East’s AD122 Country Bus stops at Vindolanda so you can hop off here car-free.
Walk the Town Walls whose every brick holds the secrets of a turbulent past and wander through the romantic ruins of Berwick Castle whose fortress faced years of bloody conflict. This breath-taking, bastioned town just oozes intriguing history, and the Royal Border Bridge, Berwick Museum (and, of course, the beach!) are other fantastic things you can do here.
A Paw-fect Day Out
Ferny Rigg Alpaca Walks
If you’re an animal-loving family then Ferny Rigg’s alpaca walks are sure to be your cup of tea. Stroll through the countryside with an alpaca on your arm, as the combination of stunning views and the amusing alpacas is bound to make you smile. Don't worry, you won't need to al-paca a picnic, as hosts Dave and Caroline can supply a locally-sourced supper for you.
Whitehouse Farm Centre
If farmyard fun is your thing, Whitehouse Farm Centre is the farm for you. Not only do they have adorable farm animals that you can pet and feed, they have reptiles, birds of prey, meerkats, monkeys and more. With playgrounds a-plenty, tractor trailor rides, and bouncy ‘jumping pillows’, Whitehouse Farm offers a kid’s dream day out.
For more summer inspiration, see our summer page, and don’t forget to vote for Northumberland in The British Travel Awards here.