Growing up in the North East of England, I was lucky enough to have the wonders of Northumberland right on my doorstep. I have many happy memories of family day-trips to the likes of Alnwick, Bamburgh and Lindisfarne. As a county, Northumberland has so much to offer, in terms of history, culture, and scenery. So whether you want to find out more about the heritage of our neighbouring county, or simply want to immerse yourself in the breath-taking rural landscapes, Northumberland is a place you really ought to explore during your time at university in Newcastle.
Northumberland is home to more castle sites than any other county in the country, with over seventy to its name. From the romantic ruins of Dunstanburgh and Berwick castles, to those fully restored to their former glory, such as Bamburgh castle, Northumberland is rich with fascinating history and astounding architecture. My personal favourite is Alnwick Castle – the country’s second largest inhabited castle (after Windsor Castle), which has been home to the Percy family for over seven hundred years. Right by the castle, is the stunning Alnwick Garden, which offers twelve acres worth of meandering, and houses the world’s largest tree house Restaurant and biggest Tai Haku Cherry Tree Orchard. And for you Potterheads out there, Alnwick Castle was also a primary filming site for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Or if you’re looking for a spine-chilling experience, visit the appropriately named Chillingham Castle, notorious for being one of the most haunted castles in the country. Another fascinating and historic place to visit in Northumberland is Lindisfarne, or ‘Holy Island’, as it is often referred to. While the Island has a population of just over one hundred and sixty people, Lindisfarne welcomes more than six hundred and fifty thousand visitors each year. While the island is connected to the mainland by a causeway, this is completely covered by water twice daily – so you really have to get your timings right when visiting Holy Island, or you might just get stuck there!
If history isn’t really your thing, then perhaps the picturesque coastline and long sandy beaches of Northumberland would be of a greater appeal. Or else, you could visit the county’s historic market towns. For cobbled streets and stylish shopping, Morpeth is the place to go, or else you could go to Hexham, which is acclaimed to be England’s favourite market town. If you are a book lover, then Hexham offers an annual book festival, held in Queen’s Hall Art Centre. This year the event will be held from 24th April to 3rd May. Another place in Northumberland that is bound to be of interest to bookworms, is Barter Books, in Alnwick town. This is a converted railway station and one of the largest second-hand bookshops in Britain. And if you are at all interested in art, it is worth visiting the giant land sculpture ‘Northumberlandia’ by Charles Jencks, nicknamed ‘The Lady of the North’, which is situated just over the Northumberland county border.
While it is perhaps easiest to explore Northumberland by car, there are public transport links available that could take you to all of these wonderful places. If you or one of your friends happens to have a car at uni, then you should absolutely take advantage, and explore the beautiful and historic sites of Northumberland at your leisure. Or else, look into buses and trains, and plan some day-trips. You really would be missing out if you spent three (or more) years in Newcastle without ever venturing across the Northumberland county border.
Feature Image Credit: nickfrom from Pixabay
Last modified: 15th March 2020