We love wild landscapes and rugged coastlines, so one of our favourite places is Northumberland. Coach holidays are a great way to travel and make the most of this stunning scenery without having to worry about driving yourselves, where you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the journey. This beautiful county has something to offer everyone: from majestic castles and stunning seascapes to beautiful gardens, gorgeous towns and villages, and a diverse wildlife for you to discover.
Here are our top places to explore on your Northumberland coach holiday:
Alnwick is well-known for its stunning castle used as the filming location of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter films. The beautiful gardens hold a deadly secret – their Poison Garden is filled with plants that can kill you, so enter if you dare! Access to the Poison Garden is by guided tour only, and well worth the visit – you’ll come away with some interesting anecdotes!
Don’t Miss: Barter Books is one of the largest second-hand book stores in Europe and is well worth a visit on your Northumberland coach holiday. It’s also responsible for the prolific “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster and its many variants: designed during World War 2 as a propaganda poster in case of invasion but never used, it was rediscovered in a box of books bought at auction by the owners of Barter Books and they decided to frame it on the bookshop wall – and the rest is history.
No Northumberland coach holiday is complete without a visit to the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne – a beautiful island complete with Castle, Abbey, village and nature reserve. It is famous for the boat sheds dotted along the shoreline – a remnant of a tradition in North East England where fisherman used redundant herring boats as storage sheds for nets and other equipment. There is an ample coach park on the island but access is tidal so be sure to check the tide-tables before you go.
THE FARNE ISLANDS
Its well worth heading to Seahouses and taking a boat trip out to the Farne Islands. Grey seals are resident year round, and between April and July you’ll find 80,000 Puffins in residence for the nesting season. These quirky birds are great to watch and you can do a landing or non-landing cruise.
Top Tip: Don’t forget a hat! During nesting season you are very likely to be dive-bombed by the arctic terns if you land on Inner Farne, so make sure you cover your head!
The Military Road is another unmissable trip on your Northumberland coach holiday. Take a drive out past Haltwistle on the A69 and head along the B6318 for a scenic drive following the route of Hadrian’s Wall. You’ll see Sycamore Gap, one of the most iconic views of Hadrian’s Wall with its dramatic dip framing a lone tree – famously visited by Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood in the film and probably the most photographed spot in Northumberland National Park. You can also call in at Housesteads Roman Fort, Chesters Roman Fort or Vindolanda, which are sites where the remains of Roman settlements can be seen.
Vindolanda is just one of the Roman forts remaining on Hadrian’s Wall, and is probably one of the best to visit! Located a short distance off the Military Road, the extensive ruins are fascinating to wander around and you can even catch a free tour offered by the knowledgeable guides based on site.
There is also a modern, world-class museum using cutting edge techniques to tell the story of the artefacts and rare treasures on display. Some of the most amazing treasures at the Vindolanda Tablets – thin slivers of wood covered in spidery handwriting which were discovered onsite and are the oldest surviving hand-written documents in Britain. They give an amazing insight into the lives of people living and working at Vindolanda nearly 2000 years ago.
Bamburgh Castle is situated in a stunning location and is probably our favourite castle in the UK. It’s well worth visiting on your Northumberland coach holiday and can be combined with a visit to Lindisfarne to make an enjoyable full day out. Bamburgh is also famous for its connection with Grace Darling and there is a museum dedicated to her famous lifeboat rescue in the village.
Don’t Miss: Take a stroll to the north of the castle and make your way through the sand dunes to see a classic view of the castle and sands stretching out to sea.
A stunning National Trust property carved into the rocky landscape, Cragside certainly lives up to its name! Cragside was the home of Lord William Armstrong, a pioneer inventor and engineer, and was the first home to be powered by hydraulics and illuminated by hydro-electricity. People visited from all over the world, fascinated by this home filled with gadgets, intriguing inventions and electric light, and even the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, then Prince & Princess of Wales, stayed there in 1884.
The stunning grounds are filled with man-made lakes, tumbling waterfalls, formal gardens and rock garden combine to create the fantasy landscape imagined and created by Lord Armstrong – all in all a wonderful place to explore.
The town of Hexham lies just a few miles from Hadrian’s Wall, so is the perfect visit to combine with discovering more about our Roman history in the north of England.
Hexham Abbey is one of the earliest seats of Christianity in the UK and has a wealth of history to discover. Highlights include the Saxon Crypt, The Night Stair, Flavinus’ Tombstone and much more. It’s also worth checking out The Big Story, which is an interactive exhibition charting the history of the Abbey – fun for both adults and children alike!
After your visit to the Abbey, we recommend exploring the town and discovering some of the shops and cafes, or pop to nearby Corbridge, a quiet Northumberland town with a big Roman history. It is home to some of the oldest finds in Britain including Roman armour and the Corbridge Lion – a sandstone sculpture dating back to the 2nd or 3rd century AD and discovered during excavations in 1907.
Howick is the ancestral home of the Earls Grey, who have lived here since 1319. You may find the name familiar – and that’s because Howick is also the home of Earl Grey tea! The blend was created by a Chinese mandarin for Charles, the 2nd Earl Gray in the early 19th century, and was specifically blended to suit the water at Howick. Lady Grey used to serve the tea to her friends, and it proved so popular that Twinings began to market it and it is now sold worldwide. Sadly, the Greys never registered the trademark and didn’t earn a penny from it!
Howick Hall was originally built in 1782 and was enlarged in 1809 before the interior was destroyed by fire in 1926. It was rebuilt in 1928 when the north facade was altered and a rotunda to create the building you see today.
Today the ground floor of the Hall houses as exhibition on the family, local natural history and the garden and arboretum, which are predominantly the work of the 5th Earl Grey and his daughter, Lady Mary Howick. The gardens have a natural, informal style and are best known for the Woodland Gardens, Wild Bog Garden and woodland walk trails. We highly recommend a garden tour with Howick guides who can tell you all about the history of the estate, the family and some fascinating stories that you’ll love to hear!
We hope you love Northumberland as much as we do – what’s your favourite place to visit?
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