Northumberland is England’s most northern county, a magical place filled with ancient castles, golden sand beaches, rolling hills, rugged moorland and friendly little Northumberland towns and villages.
Apart from endless walks, mountain biking, fishing and all that nature has to offer on the doorstep of Riverdale Hall Hotel, there are also many attractions locally, a selection of which is below:
Bellingham Heritage Centre
This small Museum and Heritage Centre houses artefacts, photographs, maps, drawings and documents recording the history and traditions of the North Tyne Valley and Redesdale. Displays include the Border Counties Railway, Border Reivers, WP Collier Photographer, mining, farming including the Stannersburn Smithy, heritage and oral history. The Heritage Centre also provides public access to a computerised database of historic photographs as well as a database of local family names.
- Website: www.bellingham-heritage.org.uk
Kielder Water and Forest Park
Home to northern Europe’s largest man-made lake and England’s largest forest, Kielder Water & Forest Park is one of Northumberland’s best attractions.
It is perfect for individuals or families that love nature, water sports, exploring, walking, cycling and much more.
Kielder Water & Forest Park features mile upon mile of purpose-built trails including forest walks for all the family and dedicated mountain bike tracks. The Lakeside Way is a 26 mile multi-user trail, suitable for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair users, that encircles the shoreline of Kielder Water.
Where to go
You can discover all you need to know about Kielder Water & Forest Park including its history at Tower Knowe Visitor Centre or visit Kielder Castle, the former hunting lodge for the Duke of Northumberland, which now hosts a visitor centre, art gallery and exhibitions.
Visit Kielder Water Birds of Prey Centre based at Leaplish Waterside Park, the centre cares for a whole host of birds including owls, falcons and vultures as well as fallow deer and wallabies.
What to do
Activities include: archery and junior archery, fencing, crossbow, table tennis, snorkelling, FUNdamentals (gymnastics for young children), sea scooters (underwater propellers to power around the pool), disc golf (launch specially designed frisbees into targets across a large outdoor course), petanque (a form of boules), short mat bowls (indoor bowls for all the family), water walkerz (walk on water in the pool inside a floating inflatable ball) and skip-hop (skipping and hip-hop dance moves).
Famed for having the darkest night skies in England thanks to minimal light pollution, Kielder Water & Forest Park is a star gazers’ heaven and is home to the Kielder Observatory.
There is also contemporary art and architecture including the futuristic shelter design of the Belvedere, the Minotaur maze and Silvas Capitalis, also known as the ‘giant forest head’.
- Website: www.visitkielder.com
Hadrian’s Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks. Built under the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, the wall snakes 73 miles between Wallsend in the east and Bowness on Solway in the west.
Northumberland is home to the majority of the remaining sections of Hadrian’s Wall and five of the eight excavated forts, including the iconic fort of Housesteads and Vindolanda. The county is also home to many miles of tracks along unbroken parts of the wall that dip and swerve over high ground. These paths often provide spectacular views over a landscape largely unchanged since the days of the Roman legions.
- Hadrian’s Wall: www.hadrians-wall.org
- Housesteads Roman Fort: Housesteads Roman Fort
- Vindolanda (Chesterholm) Hadrian’s Wall: www.vindolanda.com
Battlefields of Northumberland
Northumberland has a rich and turbulent history and has seen it’s fair share of bloody battles. Visit some of the battles of Northumberland which helped shaped the future of both county and country.
- The Battle of Heavenfield – c.635AD
- The Battle of Otterburn – 1318
- The Battle of Flodden – 1513
Falconry Days Northumberland
Enjoy a unique falconry experience giving you a rare insight into the art of falconry. Take the opportunity to get really close to, and hands on with a range of Owls, Hawks, Eagles, Falcons and Vultures.
Whether your interest is in falconry, birds of prey, bird watching, wildlife or just being out in beautiful countryside, Falconry Days will have something of interest to offer you.
- Website: www.falconrydays.com
Situated in the heart of the market town of Hexham, Hexham Abbey is one of the earliest surviving Christian foundations in Britain. Originally a Benedictine Abbey, then an Augustinian Priory and the Parish Church of Hexham, this has been a place of worship since AD674. Some of its most iconic treasures include St Wilfrid’s famous 7th century crypt, the Night Stair – one of the last remaining medieval staircases in existence and used to this day, the Frith Stool – a Saxon bishop’s throne which must date from Wilfrid’s church and gave sanctuary to fugitives in medieval times and an Anglo-Saxon Chalice.
- Website: www.hexhamabbey.org.uk
Wallington Hall and Gardens
Discover Wallington, much-loved home to generations of the unconventional Treveylan family and a magnificent estate where politics and play came together in the heart of Northumberland.
Visit the impressive, yet friendly house, and explore the history of Northumberland in the huge pre-Raphaelite paintings around the remarkable Central Hall. Be inspired by the beautiful furniture, family paintings and treasured collections.
The Trevelyans loved being outdoors and close to nature and the house is surrounded by an informal landscape of lawns, lakes, woodland, parkland and farmland, just waiting to be explored.
- Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallington
Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens
With so much to see and do, a trip to Belsay is one of the best value family days out in North East England. Explore the grand medieval castle, later extended to include a magnificent Jacobean mansion and don’t miss the stunning views from the top of the tower. Then it’s on to Belsay Hall, an architectural masterpiece inspired by the temples of ancient Greece, with its fabulous Pillar Hall.
Last but not least, there are the huge grounds, packed with an impressive array of shrubs and flowers. The unique Quarry Garden is a fantasy of ravines, pinnacles and exotic plants, No wonder Belsay Hall is one of the top visitor attractions in Northumberland.
- Website: Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens
Cragside House, Gardens and Estate
Enter the world of Lord Armstrong – Victorian inventor, innovator and landscape genius. Cragside house was truly a wonder of its age.
Discover the first house in the world to be lit by hydro-electricity. It is crammed full of ingenious gadgets with most of them still working. The gardens are incredible. One of the largest rock gardens in Europe leads down to the Iron Bridge, which in turn leads to the formal garden. Children will love our adventure play area and exploring Nelly’s Labyrinth, a networks of paths and tunnels cut out of a vast area of rhododendron forest.
- Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cragside
Alnwick Castle and Gardens
Discover Alnwick Castle, one of the largest inhabited castles in Europe and proudly known as ‘the Windsor of the North’. It has been home to the Duke of Northumberland’s family, the Percys, through 700 years of drama, intrigue, tragedy and romance.
Hear tales of the Castle’s turbulent past – from kingmakers and gunpowder plot, to fascinating architecture and one of the best private art collections in the country. Climb the ramparts for a stunning view of the ‘Capability’ Brown landscape, and learn more about the Castle’s rich history in the museums nestled within its walls.
- Website: www.alnwickcastle.com
The Northumberland Coast
Adjacent with the Scottish Borders and the North Sea, the 100 mile long Northumberland Coast is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Sweeping from the historic town of Berwick upon Tweed in the north, to the village of Tynemouth with its golden sands and rolling surf, in the south. With the Northumberland Coastal Route providing access to the many towns and villages located along this magnificent stretch of coastline. Much of the area is unpopulated, tranquil, with mile-after-mile of clean and safe award-winning golden sandy beaches, quiet country lanes and an unequalled sense of freedom.
The Northumberland Coast has much to offer all visitors, including…
- Dramatic Castles, including Holy Island Castle, Bamburgh Castle and Dunstanburgh Castle.
- Traditional seaside towns, charming villages and hamlets.
- For lovers of wildlife, majestic Holy Island, the Farne Islands and Coquet Island.
- Interesting shops and markets, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and quaint pubs.
- Grace darling Museum in Bamburgh
- Seahouses life boat center, harbour and boat trips to Farnse isles
- Website: www.northumberland-coast.co.uk
For more information on other local attractions within Northumberland, please visit www.visitnorthumberland.com