The North East is a hugely diverse region renowned for its pristine, natural beauty, welcoming population and the vibrancy of its resurgent cities.
Northumberland, located on the Anglo-Scottish border, is stunning. Around a quarter of the county falls within the boundary of Northumberland National Park - hailed as the most tranquil place in England and covering much of upland Northumberland, the valleys and fells of the Cheviot Hills and the world heritage site of Hadrian’s Wall. It offers superb range of outdoor activities from walking and cycling to rock climbing, and in 2009, skiing returned to the Cheviots!
A historically turbulent borderland, the population of Northumberland spent hundreds of years defending themselves against raiders and armies from Scotland. Consequently, it boasts more castles than any other English county – the list is extensive. The most iconic are those at Bamburgh, Alnwick , Lindisfarne and Dustanburgh – all instantly recognisable. There are lesser well known castles that provide an equally rewarding visit. Viewed from the old corn road that crosses Alnwick Moor, Edlingham Castle’s ruins and the distant Cheviots form a wonderful view. Chillingham Castle, reputedly the most haunted building in the country, is a wonderfully restored, atmospheric building that retains much of its original fabric. Ford Castle, Etal Castle, Warkworth Castle and Aydon Castle are other notables that join the list of over 70!
Some of Northumberland’s most famous castles are located on its dramatic coastline - designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1958. The emotive ruins of Dunstanburgh castle perched on an outcrop of the Whin Sill – a visually distinctive geological feature seen across the North East – is iconic. As well as the castles, there are picturesque villages dotted along the coast. The likes of Low Newton, Alnmouth and Craster are interspersed with broad, sweeping sands, where even during the height of summer, it is possible to be on your own. The coast is also a great destination for those who prefer to be on the water – fishing, kitesurfing, sailing, sea kayaking and surfing are all popular.
The county’s towns and villages are equally appealing. There is excellent independent shopping in Corbridge and Morpeth; Hexham has an impressive 12th century abbey and the Old Gaol is the oldest purpose built prison in England. Alnwick is famous for the recently developed Alnwick Garden, and of course Alnwick Castle, while Berwick, a constant source of Anglo-Scottish friction, has impressive defensive walls and one of the finest bridges in the region.
From Northumberland we move south. The vibrant city of Newcastle and its neighbour, Gateshead, have experienced a renascence in recent years. Already famous for their nightlife, shopping and friendly locals, they have now developed an enviable reputation as centres of culture and were voted the best English city break destination in the Guardian and Observer Travel Awards for four consecutive years. Grey Street, which bends down from Grey’s Monument toward the Quayside, was voted the “Best Street in the UK” by listeners of Radio 4 and displays some fine Georgian architecture. Just across the river the Gateshead Quays are home to the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the Sage Gateshead – a world class performing arts venue. Both buildings are architecturally impressive, and together with the various Tyne bridges, create a cityscape that is instantly recognisable.
Moving south once more, we enter County Durham which takes up where Northumberland left off. South of Hadrian’s Wall, the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty begins just north of the Durham – Northumberland border and occupies much of the area between Northumberland National Park and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The North Pennines AONB is no less picturesque and comprises fells and wild moorland, eventually giving way to the serenity of Teesdale and Weardale. Downstream, the Wear has carved a deep gorge on a bend in the river, which almost entirely surrounds the elevated peninsula chosen by monks of Lindisfarne as the final resting place of St Cuthbert. This is the site where Durham Cathedral now stands. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Durham Cathedral is a magnificent example of Norman architecture and was described by Bill Bryson as the “finest cathedral in the world”. It sits next to Durham Castle, another imposing Norman structure now part of the University of Durham. Together they form a striking vista that is visible from much of the city.
Rich in culture, landscape and history and with a friendly, welcoming population, the north east has an enormous amount to offer. Exciting cities, pristine upland, remarkable architecture and much of the best coastline in the country all await the visitor, or if you are local, are right on your doorstep.
Arrange a specific date before booking or buy as a Gift Voucher enabling you to schedule a suitable ...