Places to see
Take a guided tour in our countryside

Places to see

Things to see and do...


Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens

Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens

Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens located just 15 minutes north of Newcastle is a great day out for all the family.

The Zoo itself is home to over 200 species including Lemurs, Monkeys and Meerkats. There are some fantastic opportunities for you to get up close and personal with some of their more exotic animals including our wallaby walk through and Lorikeet feeding enclosure brand new for 2018.

Try living life adventurously by taking a tree top adventure on the high ropes course, whizz through the air at over 20 miles per hour on the 120 metre zip slide – not for the faint hearted! (Open during weekends and school holidays - restrictions apply). Enjoy a coffee and snack in the Orangery Café whilst enjoying views of the formal garden and lawn. Fully refreshed, explore the woodland walk, walled gardens and surrounding farmland.

The Main Hall hosts a number of different events throughout the year including our Countryside Festival, Family Fun Day and even a performance from the HandleBards Shakespeare company.

Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens is open to the public during Weekends and Northumberland School Holidays.


Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

Dubbed the ‘Windsor of the North,’ Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England and has been home to the Duke of Northumberland’s family, the Percys, for over 700 years.

With a history dating back to the Norman age, transport yourself into Alnwick Castle’s tumultuous past with our knowledgeable guides fascinating anecdotes and extraordinary stories brimming with drama and intrigue.

Discover the castle’s lavish Italianate Renaissance State Rooms, enclosed like a jewel within a magnificent medieval fortress, adorned with one of the most remarkable collections of priceless antiquities, artwork and porcelain.

Mingle amongst the grand medieval walls, become a craft-making artisan, and see how corporal punishment was administered in days gone by. For those of a more magically inclined nature, Broomstick Training shall teach you the ins and outs of basic flying courtesy of our resident wizarding professors; and with enough skill, a mid-air snap may just be possible!

In recent years, Alnwick Castle has taken starring roles in a number of film and television productions including featuring as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter films and as Brancaster Castle in ITV’s Downton Abbey.

So why not come and enjoy a day filled with excitement at one of the UK’s most significant heritage destinations.

Kielder Water & Forest Park has it all. The views are bigger, the night sky brighter, the sports wilder and the smiles wider. Home to the biggest man-made lake in Northern Europe and, at over 250 square miles, the largest working forest in England, the award-winning Kielder Water & Forest Park is one of Northumberland’s best attractions.

Kielder Waterside sitting in the heart of Kielder Water & Forest Park offers a great day out for all the family. See a flying demonstration at the birds of prey centre, have fun at the play garden, suitable for big and little kids alike or take a scenic walk to the Tower Knowe café and enjoy delicious homemade ice-cream. Alternatively tuck into tasty food at the Boat Inn and The Hide at Kielder Waterside.

Kielder Water & Forest Park

Kielder Water & Forest Park

For those more active, why not challenge yourself with a run, walk or cycle along the 27 miles of stunning shoreline. Follow the Lakeside Way and see art installations such as Freya’s Cabin, Robin’s Hut and Belvedere.  Once you are here, hire your bike from Kielder village and explore mile upon mile of some of the best single-track mountain bike trails in the UK.

A haven for wildlife, visitors can expect to encounter otters, roe deer, badgers and bats. Kielder is home to almost 50% of England’s red native squirrel population, visit the hide at Kielder Waterside and see if you can spot one. From April, join the expert volunteers at Osprey Watch every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday at Kielder Waterside (and Wednesdays from July) until the chicks fledge in August and experience stunning views of one of the UK’s rarest and most spectacular bird species.

Famed for having the darkest skies in England thanks to minimal light pollution, the Park is a stargazer’s heaven. Complete your trip with a visit to Kielder Observatory located in the heart of Northumberland International Dark Sky Park – the largest Dark Sky Park in Europe.

Like the sound of this?  Start planning your adventure now.

Ford & Etal is a place to explore, experience and discover.  Nestled in the valley of the River Till, between the Scottish Border and the Cheviot Hills and just a few miles inland from the Northumberland Coast, this large agricultural estate centred round the charming villages of Ford and Etal is full of attractions, activities, traditional tearooms and quality accommodation.  From canoeing, horse-riding and rock-climbing to 19th century artworks and mystical standing stones  there’s something to suit every age and interest, whatever the weather.

Peaceful Ford village with its neat gardens and houses was rebuilt as a Victorian ‘model’ village and is perfect for anyone interested in the Arts and history, with antiques, vintage items and collectables to browse as well as the magnificent Lady Waterford Hall.  Upon entering this building you’ll be both surprised and delighted!  Built as the village school in 1860 the Hall houses an unique collection of life-sized watercolour murals painted by Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford and tells the story of her life – a famous beauty and a friend of Queen Victoria who was tragically widowed at a young age.

Ford & Etal

Ford & Etal

At nearby Heatherslaw you can explore the restored 19th Century Cornmill, watch the milling process from grain to flour and on special activity days can even make some bread. Kids can follow the mouse trail or take a quiz to become a junior miller. There’s a tearoom in the old granary too, serving delicious  treats made using fresh flour from the mill, a gift shop and a craft shop where you can watch the traditional art of papercutting and choose from a selection of silhouette pictures or hand made jewellery.   

Hire a bike from the Visitor Centre and experience the sights and sounds of the countryside on two wheels, or take a steam train ride along the banks of the River Till with the Heatherslaw Light Railway. Take a stroll along the riverside and see if you can spot an otter, call at Etal Castle, ransacked at the time of the Battle of Flodden or simply relax and unwind in the Lavender Tearooms.

A must-see is Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre, home to 10 Clydesdale horses as well as rare-breed sheep, pigs and ducks.  The centre also has regular events and activity days and holds a farmers market once a month.  There are a number of other events across the estates throughout the year, from live music to village shows to family activities – all are listed on our website.

A fabulous area for walking, leaflets describing walks of varying lengths are available from  Heatherslaw Visitor Centre.  Visit Ford Moss Nature Reserve, once a busy mining settlement and now  an SSSI and one of Northumberland’s most important raised bog mires – and make time to call at the evocative Flodden Battlefield where 500 years ago a King and 14,000 men died in battle within the space of a few hours.

Whether you seek peace and tranquillity, a walk in breathtakingly beautiful countryside, a visit immersed in the heritage of the area, an adventurous activity or a family day out you’re sure to find it at Ford & Etal.

The Sill

The Sill

Often described as “ the land of the far horizon”, there is a wild beauty in Northumberland National Park that so uplifting and bestowing a sense of wellness from being immersed in open and tranquil countryside, surrounded by the sounds and sights of nature and the stars above. You just have to experience it, to feel it. Northumbrians are passionate about their way of life and take pride in sharing it with you. You’ll discover wonderful food, enjoy local festivals and be able to explore ancient sites of international significance. Picturesque towns and villages provide everything you need to make your stay special. Northumberland National Park together with part of Kielder Water & Forest Park, is England’s only International Dark Sky Park (Gold Tier). On a clear night you can see the Milky Way, and even the Andromeda Galaxy (2.5 million light years away) with the naked eye!
Last year saw the opening of the Sill National landscape Discovery Centre on Hadrian’s Wall. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this brand new discovery centre will inspire you go out there and get stuck in, exploring the landscapes, history and heritage of Northumberland and the wider North East. It is open all year with YHA accommodation, retail and cafe facilities as well as a free landscape exhibition. A significant activity programme is on offer to inspire the next generation to continue valuing and conserving this beautiful part of the world.

Visit one of England’s most special places, the Allen Valleys. This stunning landscape surrounds the East and West Allen rivers in the south west corner of Northumberland. It offers open heather moors and peatlands, attractive dales and hay meadows, tumbling upland rivers and wonderful woods, all sitting within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark.

East Allen

East Allen

The intriguing imprints of a mining and industrial past sit alongside the beauty of distinctive birds, animals and plants. The area is globally important, yet it’s only a short trip through stunning scenery from the Tyne Valley. Some of the highlights you can enjoy in the Allen Valleys include; wading birds and hay meadows, industrial heritage, dark skies, cultural heritage including the Allen Valleys Folk Festival (28th – 30th September 2018) and wonderful walks.

A warm welcome awaits you in one of the area’s many pubs, cafes, shops and galleries where you can sample local food and drink and see the works of local artists and craftspeople.

A landscape intersected by rights of way and quiet back roads offers opportunities to explore by foot, bike or even horseback. You can stay in remote charming country cottages or in one of the many B&B’s, hotels, hostels or caravan parks.

Over 40% of the UK's upland hay meadows are found in the North Pennines. This now rare habitat is recognised to be of European importance.

A walk on footpaths through a flowering hay meadow is a rich experience. Delicate and differently shaped flowers bloom in many colours and on a warm day the scent of some of these flowers can be intoxicating. Add to this the displays and calls of birds overhead and the wind gently moving the long grass and you have a feast for the senses!

The North Pennines has some of England’s darkest night skies, and the area is recognised as the darkest mainland AONB in the country. Nestled at the top of the East Allen Valley at Allenheads is the North Pennines Observatory which is home to the North Pennines Astronomy Society. Individuals and businesses can take advantage of the Observatory at Allenheads by becoming a Supporting Member, allowing you to come along to any of the Observatory’s annual six Supporting Member Evenings (including training on using telescopes and night sky photography) with free refreshments.

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