A charming picturesque market town in the heart of Northumberland. There’s plenty of shops and cafés in the centre, but the real jewel of the town is it’s the awesome castle dating back to AD600. Alnwick Castle is brilliant for kids to explore with it’s Knights School, Dragon Quest and archery lessons. The younger ones will love the fact that the first two Harry Potter movies were filmed at Alnwick Castle. Close by you will also find the beautiful Alnwick Garden, home to one of the world’s largest treehouses, a poison garden and fountains for the kids to splash around in.
The Northumberland National Park
Makes up over a quarter of the county and stretches from the Scottish border down to Hadrian’s Wall. The park boasts the cleanest air in England, along with the darkest skies and cleanest water meaning the whole family should feel re-energised after just a couple of hours. Most of the park is situated in the Cheviot Hills and offers fantastic walking, fishing, pony trekking and other outdoor pursuits. Just outside the park you will find the mind-boggling Craside estate, the first house in the world to be powered by hydro-electricity. The grounds are perfect for exploring while the house is full of hidden treasures.
Kielder Water & Forest Park
Let the kids loose on Kielder Water, the largest man made lake in Northern Europe. Kayaking, wind-surfing and sailing can be arranged on the day. The surrounding forest is home to over 75% of England’s remaining red squirrel population so if you can’t spot one here, then you’re not looking hard enough! Other elusive wildlife to look out for are otters, roe deer and feral goats, while the Leaplish Bird of Prey Centre allows youngsters to handle and discover the kings of the sky. This is great for those families who love to explore the great outdoors!
Built from AD122 onwards to defend against the lawless Picts, The world heritage site of Hadrian's Wall can still be seen in magnificent detail. With most children now learning about the Romans in school, this is a great place to bring history to life. The human story of the wall is best seen at Vindolanda, whilst rude carvings can be found at various locations along the wall, guaranteed to amuse the little ones, and the not so little ones. The most dramatic part of the wall can be found near Once Brewed Tourist Information Centre, and fans of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves will be able to follow in the footsteps of Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman at Sycamore Gap. Near Hexham, gateway to Hadrian's Wall, is a Go Ape treetop adventure course at Matfen Hall.
Every bathing beach along the Northumberland Coast has been recommended in the Good Beach Guide and the beach at Bamburgh was voted the best in the UK by the Daily Telegraph, with the flat, calm sea perfect for youngsters who want to paddle around and explore the many rock pools. Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the sweeping golden sand beaches of the Northumberland Coast are punctuated by mighty castles and wildlife filled islands. Take a tour of some of the great Norman castles such as Warkworth, Bamburgh or Dunstanburgh which straddle the coast before climbing aboard a boat to the Farne islands to see huge numbers of sea birds and England’s largest grey seal colony. Whether it’s bird watching, seal viewing, boat fishing or fantastic beach walks and picnics, the Northumberland coast will have you and your kids bursting for more.
The trip across to Holy Island is an adventure in itself as the road is cut off twice a day by high tide. Known as the “Cradle of Christianity” in the UK, the island was home to monks as far back as 635AD before they were forced to flee by Viking raiders. Everyone who visits Holy Island feels there is a deeply serene, peaceful atmosphere to the place with the centuries old priory and unusual castle evidence of the past glories of the island. Please take note of the tide times when visiting the island as many visitors in the past have chosen to ignore the warnings and have found themselves having to be winched to safety by the RAF rescue helicopter as their car is swallowed by the North Sea!
Berwick upon Tweed
Strategically placed between England and Scotland the town has changed hands 31 times over a turbulent history, with many residents still confused about whether they are English or Scottish. The huge town walls were built during the reign of Elizabeth I, with the overall cost higher than the amount spent during the Spanish Armada! In previous times it was a huge port exporting wool, grain and salmon, although in recent years it has diversified offering a border town full of charm, history and expansive architecture.
A short distance from Berwick lie the quaint villages of Ford and Etal, which are linked by a mini railway ideal for those with youngsters who love Thomas the Tank Engine! With a castle, an old fashioned mill and many fantastic houses and halls to explore you should find enough here to entertain the whole family.
Is your gateway to the north and well worth a visit. This vibrant city is built on a history of work and toil and proudly flaunts it. It’s magnificent Georgian architecture and industrial might, highlighted by the awe inspiring Tyne Bridge are a joy to the eye. In recent years the city has transformed itself in particular on the quay side with the building of Norman Fosters Sage Centre and the opening up of the Baltic Mill art gallery. Always popular with the families are The Centre for Life, where science is brought to life with interactive displays and thrilling rides, and Seven Stories, a fun filled journey through children’s books. There’s a fantastic metro system linking the city and the shopping, entertainment, food and everything else that makes Newcastle great will keep the family smiling.