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Coast and countryside

The north of England is home to stunning scenery and breathtaking areas of mountains, moorlands, woodland, wetland and coastal areas just waiting to be explored.  

Northumberland, England’s border county with Scotland, is packed with castles, forts and country houses for you to discover, telling the tale of the county’s turbulent 2,000 year history. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hadrian’s Wall, once marked the northern frontier of the Roman Empire, stretches 73 miles across the country to Cumbria and the Lake District, and offers world-class archaeological sites and museums, spectacular countryside, wonderful pubs and marked cycle and walking routes. 

A visit to Alnwick Castle and Alnwick Garden, still home to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, provides a great day out. The castle is a popular film location and was most famous as the set for Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films and more recently featured as Brancaster Castle in the Downton Abbey 2014 Christmas special. 

A drive up the Northumberland coast offers some of the most stunning views in England. Make a pilgrimage across the causeway to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and follow in the footsteps of ancient monks who built their priory there nearly 1,400 years ago. Discover the island’s grisly past and the Viking raids, the cult of St Cuthbert and the beautiful medieval manuscript the Lindisfarne Gospels. Make sure you check the tide times though as the island is cut off from the mainland twice a day by the rising North Sea.  

Sitting two to three miles off the Northumbrian Coast, the Farne Islands are a group of 15 to 20 islands with rocky shores, grey seals and England's most famous seabird colony, making a boat trip there a must-do for wildlife lovers. Visit the famous puffins - there's 37,000 pairs of them on the islands - and enjoy a picnic with unrivalled views of Bamburgh Castle and the Cheviot Hills.

With its clean air and dark skies, the Northumberland National Park, stretching over 400 square miles of amazing landscape, covers almost a quarter of the county and is one of the least populated of the UK’s national parks. A place for adventure or relaxation, you can be as active, or laid back as you like! Discover secluded and unspoilt countryside, dramatic valleys and gorgeous villages. Nightfall brings the incredible experience of some of the UK’s darkest skies. Head to Kielder Observatory for a magical night under the stars.

For a traditional British experience head for a day out at South Shields, a popular seaside town just a few miles from Newcastle city centre. The stunning seafront offers all the fun of the fair, traditional fish and chips and golden sandy beaches. Make sure you pay a visit to Minchella's Ice Cream Parlour, they've been serving ice creams on Tyneside for over 100 years.

Blow the cobwebs away with an exhilarating walk along the clifftops to Souter Lighthouse, the world’s first lighthouse designed and built to be powered by electricity. And in the evening head into the town to Ocean Road, where you will find some of the best Indian restaurants in the North East.

For the adrenaline fuelled head to Tynemouth, the north’s popular surfing destination. The abundance of surf schools offer instruction and kit hire and the cafe culture and range of pubs and restaurants in the village gives Tynemouth a unique surf vibe.

There's plenty to see and do in Sunderland, our city by the sea. The award-winning beaches at Seaburn and Roker are the location of the popular International Airshow, which takes place each July. You can take a gentle stroll along the Grade II listed Roker Pier and enjoy the North Sea air. Head inland to Herrington Country Park, the home of Penshaw Monument. Built in 1844, the monument is a half-size replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens and can be seen from miles around.

South of Newcastle, the stunning scenery of the Durham Dales and North Pennines has inspired artists and writers through the ages, none more so than J.M.W. Turner. Take a trip to High Force, one of England’s most spectacular waterfalls, where a gentle woodland walk leads you down to this awe-inspiring sight.

The best way to explore is on two feet or two wheels, with miles of cycle paths, disused railway lines, quiet country lanes and off-road trails criss-crossing the county. And as you explore, you will find cultural treasures and hidden gems along the way, such as the The Bowes Museum, a French-style chateau housing one of the greatest collections of fine and decorative arts; and one of England’s finest medieval castles, Raby. Get back to nature at the 2,000 hectare Hamsterley Forest, or spot rare plants and butterflies on a walk along the Durham Heritage Coast with dramatic views along the coastline and out across the North Sea.