When the sun is still up and it’s too early to begin your star searching, there is so much to see and explore in Northumberland. Towns that hold years of brutal and bloody history, a National Park made up of diverse, sweeping landscapes and Kielder Water & Forest Park where an abundance of wildlife soars and scurries through the woodland are all aspects of Northumberland's character. You can venture out on wheels as you pedal through pine trees, explore breath-taking scenery on foot, or let Northumberland Tourism be your tour guide and immerse yourself the culture and heritage of the county’s market towns with our 5-point audio tours.
Every brick and stone that makes up Berwick’s town walls, castle and bridges has seen centuries of bloody warfare and vicious conflict. Acting as a fortress town for centuries, its control was repeatedly passed back and forth between England and Scotland, causing years of combat, battle and bloodshed. Berwick Barracks, built in 1717 and now home to three museums, showcases insight into a soldier’s life in the barracks, an unrivalled collection of memorabilia from the regiment's 325 year history and a wonderful collection of fine and decorative art given by shipping magnate Sir William Burrell in the 1940s.
Take a haunting walk along the Elizabethan Town Walls, past the stones that hold such significance to the town’s history and supersede the ruined remains of breath-taking Berwick Castle. Then, watch the sun set over the romantic River Tweed, dine on seafood and taste local tipples into the evening in one of the bustling pubs that line the cobbled streets. Click here to download Northumberland Toursim’s 5-point audio tour through Berwick.
Setting some time aside to re-connect with nature is proven to be beneficial to mental health and many researchers have coined this ‘the nature pill’. There are few places more peaceful to step into the wild and connect with nature than Northumberland National Park - and we aren’t just saying that because we’re biased. Our incredible National Park is one of the least-trodden National Parks in the whole of the UK, as well as having some of the cleanest waters, the clearest air and the darkest skies. Holding a wild beauty that is guaranteed to take your breath away, you can hike, cycle, forage and even take a walk with an alpaca in the National Park, not to mention explore the mighty Hadrian’s Wall.
The Sill - National landscape Discovery Centre acts as the gateway to it all. This year-round and all-weather venue has accommodation, retail and café facilities as well as holding food festivals, events, exhibitions, wild food classes and more. It is even open on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, so there’s no need to worry about its closing hours when you wrap up warm and head out for your Boxing Day walk. 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!
Anyone visiting Northumberland cannot miss the opportunity to immerse themselves in the peaceful nature of Kielder Water & Forest Park. Home to the biggest man-made lake in Northern Europe and largest working forest in England, its vast number of activities can have you shimmying through the trees on high ropes and walking on water in a large, inflatable ball with the Water Walkerz activity.
You are very much encouraged to re-connect with nature here. Small signs recommending that you walk barefoot over the springy, moss-covered forest floor have been placed throughout the forest and nature hides sit along the water edge at Kielder Waterside. 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, so visit the hide at Kielder Waterside and see if you can spot one. It’s easy to see animals and birds from family nature trails around Kielder Castle and nearby Bakethin Nature Reserve, where the hide offers views of the lake and the forest.
The futuristic shelter design of the Belvedere, the Minotaur maze and Silvas Capitalis, also known as the ‘giant forest head’ all contribute to the open air art and architecture experience. New for 2019 is The Nick, which is designed almost as a pentagonal tunnel and offers a range of seating from which different aspects of the landscape can be viewed.
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 – one of the largest Dark Sky Parks in Europe.