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Exploring our North East Heritage

Back in 2012, when I spent three months touring the country in a VW Campervan as Visit England’s Fan in a Van, I had the pleasure of visiting loads of English Heritage properties, including Roman sites, castle ruins and beautiful gardens. Some of the most impressive were right here in the North East so if you’re looking for a great day out it’s definitely worth checking out the English Heritage website. When you select the North East region on the online map, you’ll be given a list of over 300 attractions to choose from, the following are some of my favourites…

Warkworth Castle and Hermitage

warkworth castle

James exploring the grounds of Warkworth Castle

This magnificent hill top castle is home to a wealth of local history but what I really love about Warkworth Castle is how accessible it is, kids can run around freely and make as much noise as they want. The friendly staff will happily feed their imaginations with medieval stories, like how women were not allowed in the castle kitchens because all the men were naked in there on account of it being so hot!

warkworth window

The castle towers have such pretty views!

warkworth boat

Taking a rowing boat to get to the hermitage

The Hermitage is half a mile from the castle and only accessible by boat. On arrival it looks like a simple cave but inside is the ancient chapel of a solitary holy man, it’s quite spooky and certainly worth a visit!

Housesteads Roman Fort

Housesteads is located near Haydon Bridge, an idyllic location along Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. It’s the most complete Roman fort in Britain so attracts visitors from across the world! Wear sensible footwear because the atmospheric ruins are perched high on a ridge and the site covers around 5 acres, it’s worth the trek though as the views on a clear day are simply stunning and really remind you why England is known as the ‘green and pleasant land’!

housesteads

hadrians wall

As well as the fantastic photo opportunities of the world famous Hadrian’s Wall, there is also a very good museum at Housesteads, where you’ll find fascinating film footage, 3D models and a stunning collection of Roman finds.

Tynemouth Priory and Castle

Tynemouth is so easy to get to from Newcastle as the Tyne and Wear Metro goes straight from the city centre directly to the pretty village! Tynemouth Priory and Castle overlooks King Edwards Bay and has unspoilt views of the North East coastline. In my opinion, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a portion of fish n chips and watch the world go by!

Happy days with Rosie the campervan!

Happy days with Rosie the campervan!

In the month of July, Tynemouth Priory and Castle provides the perfect backdrop for the Tynemouth Campervan Rally which I love going to even though I no longer have Rosie the campervan to show off!

Me and my mate Anna at the Paul Weller concert earlier the year

Me and my mate Anna at the Paul Weller concert earlier this year

This popular English Heritage site is also the location for some fantastic live music events, earlier this year I saw the Modfather himself Paul Weller as part of the Mouth of Tyne Festival. It was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to and the unique setting made it all the more special!

Prudhoe Castle

More recently, James and I had a lovely Autumn walk around the ancient grounds of Prudhoe Castle, the only Northumberland castle to resist the Scots! There’s a family friendly exhibition inside the castle itself but it was the beautiful exterior that intrigued us the most.

So pretty even on a cold Autumn day!

Prudhoe Castle: So beautiful, even on a cold Autumn day!

I lost James at one point but I could hear him calling my name, I looked all around but he was nowhere to be seen… after a bit of exploring I eventually found him hiding inside the cavity of the walls, he nearly frightened the life out of me, just goes to show you’re never to old for a game of hide and seek!

Where Next?

Next on my list of English Heritage sites to visit is Belsay Hall and Gardens, I’ve heard lots about this Greek inspired property and can’t wait to find out more about it. I might actually go next week, it could be quite busy for half term but they’ve got an intriguing listing on their website advertising something called Vitorian Illusion Week.

If you fancy exploring these English Heritage attractions for yourself it might be worth investing in an annual membership from just £39. Bear in mind that opening times vary for each property and most are now operating their autumn/winter schedule, check the website before you go!

If you’d like to recommend any other English Heritage sites to me or my readers, please leave a comment below as I’ve only scratched the surface!

By Rachel Kershaw

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Rachel Kershaw

I'm a proud ambassador for all that's great about Geordieland and love sharing the best of what NewcastleGateshead has to offer. I may not be a Geordie born and bred but I've lived here for a over a decade and am proud to call this fabulous region my home!

12 Comments

  1. Just been reading/watching your Fan in a Van experience, that’s pretty awesome!! What a brilliant opportunity! 🙂

    Rachael
    girlabouttyne.com

  2. We are so lucky to have so many fabulous heritage sites in our region – we have our favourites (Belsay Hall and Warkworth castle) and always visit part of Hadrian’s wall in the summer. Despite visiting Tynemouth on numerous occaisions we have never paid the priory a visit! This needs to change. Thanks for linking to #LoveNorthEast

  3. Great to see someone who isn’t a native who is passionate about my home town!

    • Thanks! You’re so lucky to come from such an amazing place, I love it here and as my boyfriend of over ten years is Newcastle born and bred, I like to think of myself as an honorary Geordie! 🙂

  4. I have been to the top three but sadly the hermitage was closed when we visited Warkworth Castle. I really must try Prudhoe castle. We have lots of English Heritage properties in the area and there are a few more on my list

  5. Anonymous Reply

    a must see is Belsay castle and grounds they are fabulous a totally micro climate the wealth of plants and colours are breath taking ….
    Also try the national trust properties in the north east they to have wonderful interiors and exteriors …

    • Hi there, how spooky is this… I’ve actually been to Belsay Hall TODAY, just got back and saw your comment! It really is a lovely place, can’t wait to go back in summer when all the flowers come out! You’re right about National Trust too, Gibside and Cragside have been on my list for ages!

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