Looking for an unexpected adventure in the UK? Welcome to Northumberland National Park, an under-the-radar treasure boasting serene landscapes, historical landmarks, and brilliant hiking trails.
In our comprehensive guide, we will reveal the top attractions and activities that make Northumberland National Park an absolute must-visit destination. Prepare to be enchanted by its panoramic views and serene walking trails as you breathe in the fresh, crisp air and take in the untamed beauty around you.
Discover the world of history at Hadrian's Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that cuts right through the park. Dive into the local culture by meandering through the small towns and villages within the park, each offering unique shops, cosy eateries, and welcoming locals.
For nature enthusiasts, Northumberland National Park offers abundant opportunities to connect with the wilderness. Hike to the Cheviot Hills to experience stunning vistas, or explore the dark sky park - the largest in Europe - for a mesmerizing stargazing experience.
Whether you're a history aficionado, an adventure seeker, or someone seeking peace and tranquillity, Northumberland National Park is the place to visit. It's a beautiful destination in the heart of the UK that deserves a top spot on every traveller's bucket list.
Fasten your seatbelt and get ready to discover the best things to do in Northumberland National Park. We're sure this journey will leave you awestruck and craving for more. Let's get started!
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Hit the Trails
One of the best activities in Northumberland National Park is undoubtedly hiking. Whether you're an avid trekker or just someone who enjoys a leisurely stroll, this park has a trail that's just right for you. Get ready to immerse yourself in nature, breathe in the clean, fresh air, and soak in the incredible views that surround you. Trust me, few places in England can match the breathtaking beauty you'll find in this park. So, make sure to lace up your boots and hit as many trails as your schedule allows.
Here are some of the top spots for hiking in Northumberland National Park:
- Breamish Valley
- Hadrian's Wall (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- The Cheviot Hills
- Hareshaw Linn
- Drake Stone and Harbottle
- Sycamore Gap
- Greenleigh Lough
- Otterburn Ranges
With more than 1140km (708mi) of public paths criss-crossing the park, there's no doubt that you'll discover plenty of hidden trails meandering through the beautiful English countryside. So what are you waiting for? It's time to get out there and explore.
Stroll Along Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall might ring a bell, and if it doesn't, you're in for a remarkable experience. This archaeological marvel is the largest Roman artefact in Britain, stretching from coast to coast along the Scottish and English border. The Hadrian's Wall Path, a long-distance trail, meanders along the wall for about 135km (84mi). But don't worry if you're not up for a massive trek - there are plenty of accessible sections of the wall that you can explore at your own pace.
Constructed in 122 AD, this defensive fortification marked the boundary between Roman Britain and unconquered Caledonia, which now constitutes most of Scotland. Today, it's one of England's major tourist draws due to its historical significance.
When visiting Northumberland National Park, we highly recommend taking a stroll along Hadrian's Wall. It's like stepping back in time and, undoubtedly, one of the top activities to enjoy in the park. Don't miss out on this unique chance to literally walk along a piece of history.
The gentle sound of cascading water complements perfectly the tranquil ambiance of the English countryside, and in Northumberland National Park, you'll find some truly captivating waterfalls. Here are a few must-see waterfalls in our Northumberland guide:
- Hareshaw Linn
- Linhope Spout
- Hindhope Linn
- Crammel Linn
Make sure to wear sturdy, non-slip shoes when you visit these waterfalls, as the paths can get a bit slippery. And why not pack a picnic to enjoy when you reach your destination? These beautiful spots are ideal for a leisurely outdoor meal.
Keep your eyes open for the variety of wildlife that calls this region home, including the charming red squirrel and a wide array of birds.
And don't forget to charge your camera! The waterfalls and their surroundings provide plenty of stunning photo opportunities. Get ready to capture some of the park's most awe-inspiring sights!
Hop on a Mountain Bike
For adrenaline junkies and scenery seekers, why not add a mountain biking adventure to your itinerary? A prime spot to pedal your way through the park is the Otterburn Ranges. This cycling trail, one of England's lesser-known routes, takes you around the Otterburn Ranges and Upper Coquetdale. Not only will you travel along historic military roads and witness stunning panoramic views, but you'll also have a thrilling day of adventure.
This circular route kicks off and concludes in Alwinton. Along the way, you'll pass historic sites like the Harbottle Castle ruins, ancient battle houses, World War I training battle trenches, and even modern tank hulks. Expect this exhilarating journey to take around 6-7 hours, including stops for photos and lunch. Please note that this trail is best suited for experienced mountain bikers, given the steep inclines.
There aren't any facilities in the area, so pack enough food and water for your ride, along with some extra electrolytes to keep you fuelled. Get ready for an action-packed day of adventure in the heart of Northumberland National Park!
Savour Some Local Gin
After a long day of exploring, hiking, and cycling, you deserve to unwind with a refreshing glass of local gin. And here in Northumberland National Park, we've got just the brand for you - Hepple Gin! Allow us to introduce you to this delightful local speciality.
Hepple Gin is meticulously crafted in the hills of Northumberland, infusing the spirit with wild botanicals and unique flavours native to the area. Besides their signature Hepple Gin, they also produce Hepple Sloe and Hawthorn Gin, and for vodka lovers, there's Hepple Douglas Fir Vodka.
The gin is made in Hepple, a quaint village on the fringes of the park, where juniper, a primary gin ingredient, is plentiful. Given this, you're in for one of the most refreshing Gin & Tonics you'll ever have. So why not linger a while and enjoy another glass? It's worth it.
Explore Sycamore Gap
Ranked among the top things to do in Northumberland National Park, a visit to the iconic Sycamore Gap is a must, particularly for nature enthusiasts and photography buffs. This intriguingly positioned tree, arguably the most photographed site in the area, offers a breathtaking sight that transforms with the day's light. I highly recommend seeing it at sunrise, or sunset to truly appreciate its grandeur.
But it's not just the tree's unique position that makes it so remarkable. This stunning specimen won the 2016 English Tree of the Year award in the Woodland Trust's competition. Nestled in a dip along the famous Hadrian's Wall, this sycamore is safe from local sheep, thanks to a circular wall. The tree is meticulously cared for by both the National Park and the National Trust.
Did you know England is home to six international dark sky reserves? If you're used to urban living with its pervasive light pollution, stargazing in a place like Northumberland National Park is a magical and rare experience. I firmly believe that stargazing is an unforgettable activity that connects us with the natural world and reminds us of our small, yet impactful, place within the universe. That's why I've included it on our list of must-do activities in Northumberland National Park!
The park doesn't just offer any ordinary stargazing experience – it boasts the largest Dark Sky Park in the entire UK. There are several observatories and prime stargazing locations you can make use of during your visit. If your timing aligns with the universe's schedule, you might even catch the mesmerizing spectacle of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, which typically can be seen from September to March.
Make sure to download a stargazing app and bring along your binoculars to make the most of this experience. Or consider a guided tour for a more in-depth understanding and to get all your cosmic queries answered.
Stay in a Bothy
Before we dive into my recommendations for longer stays near Northumberland National Park, I should highlight a unique experience you shouldn't miss - staying in a bothy. If you're wondering what a bothy is, it's a basic shelter, typically left unlocked, available for hikers to use free of charge in remote areas. Bothies might be far from the comfort of hotel accommodations, but the experience they offer is priceless.
Staying in a bothy gives you a traditional camping experience without the challenges of braving the outdoor elements. Bothies don't require any booking - they operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Just remember to pack a sleeping bag and enough food for your stay.
Staying in a bothy not only allows you to sleep amidst the wilderness but also offers an excellent opportunity to meet fellow hikers and travellers. With seven bothies spread across the park, you're in for a real, immersive experience in the heart of nature.
Try some local beer
Likely after a day of hiking and a night in a bothy, you'll crave a warming pint to soothe those well-used muscles. Look no further than the Twice Brewed Inn Brewery, nestled in the quaintly named town of Once Brewed. Yes, you read it right! At the Twice Brewed Inn Brewery, not only can you savour a range of delicious beers, but you can also delve into the brewing process through their insightful brewery tour – a must-do for all beer enthusiasts.
As you explore the brewery, you get to sip on a freshly brewed beer while uncovering the secrets behind their process. The tour culminates with a tasting tray, presenting some of the best beers they concoct. And if you're truly enjoying the vibe, you can even stay overnight in their cosy accommodation.
Now that we've piqued your interest with this brewery, let's delve into other incredible accommodation options that can make your Northumberland experience even more memorable.
Where to stay in Northumberland National Park
Twice Brewed Inn - Fancy staying in a cosy countryside Inn that features a fantastic brewery? Then a stay at the Twice Brewed Inn is a must when following our guide to Northumberland national park. This incredibly comfortable guest house welcomes travellers, hikers and cyclists and features free Wi-Fi, an onsite restaurant, and brewery tours and makes for a great base camp to explore the surroundings of Northumberland national park. In addition, they offer complimentary breakfast, luggage transfers and even dog-friendly rooms, which makes it an accessible accommodation option for everyone. Check prices for Twice Brewed Inn.
Clennell Hall Country House - Located on the edge of Northumberland national park in the Coquet Valley, Clennell Hall Country House is a fantastic choice for accommodation in the region. Not only will the stunning countryside views captivate you, but the architecture and design of this 13th Century building will blow you away with its many original features. This is an ideal choice for a comfortable and elegant stay, close to all the park attractions and with many opportunities to spot wildlife onsite and meet fellow visitors to the area. Check prices for Clennell Hall Country House.
Butterchurn Guesthouse - This welcoming home from home in Otterburn, Northumberland, should be considered. Featuring many excellent facilities such as packed lunches, a workshop for bike repairs, a drop-off and pick-up service for hikes and rides, route maps and a lockable onsite garage. This is a great place for adventurers to base themselves when planning to explore Northumberland national park by hiking, cycling or motorcycle. This Bed & Breakfast is well set up to ensure you have a cosy stay and a memorable visit to the area. Check prices for Butterchurn Guesthouse.
How to get to Northumberland National Park
By Car – Northumberland national park is around seven hours from London, 2.5 hours from Manchester or Leeds and 2 hours from York or Edinburgh by car. It is also just a 30-minute drive from Newcastle, so it can be easily visited if you are based in this city and fancy a date with nature. However, if you plan to arrive with other modes of transport, here are some alternative options.
By Train/Bus – The most practical option is to take the train from anywhere in the UK to Newcastle, which is connected to most parts of the region, and continue to Northumberland national park using the Tyne Valley Train Line. You can also take bus number 131 from Newcastle city and Newcastle airport to the park.
By Plane – The closest airport is Newcastle, but you can also fly to Edinburgh. If you cannot get to Newcastle, just allow a few hours to get to Northumberland national park if you choose this option. Newcastle International airport is just a thirty-minute drive by car or just under an hour by public bus directly from the airport to the beginning of the park at Elishaw.