Living close to the border of Northumberland means there are endless experiences to enjoy on my doorstep. No matter what the season Northumberland’s beautiful beaches, unspoilt countryside and bustling market towns always have something to offer.
There are also a staggering number of picturesque places to visit that are are cared for by English Heritage. It’s not surprising given Northumberland’s fascinating Roman history. Thousands of people flock here every year to check out the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.
You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate a great day out with English Heritage though. The grand houses, Roman fortifications and beautiful gardens are wonderful places to explore.
I love visiting English Heritage attractions as a form of escapism, especially in Autumn and Winter when the sites are often quieter and I can wander around pretending to be lady of the manor! The sites also offer a fascinating insight in to the life and times of the people who helped shaped the county I love so much.
It’s a bonus that Northumberland’s English Heritage sites are largely dog friendly and often have great coffee and cake on offer too!
Here are some highlights from my days out…
Belsay is my closest English Heritage attraction so it’s somewhere I can easily pop to for an hour to walk the dog around the beautiful gardens. There’s also a grand Grecian style country house and well preserved medieval castle to explore. There are often events and activities here that are perfect for families, plus there’s a fab Victorian style tea rooms, second hand bookshop and well stocked gift shop. So, you can easily make a day of it!
My favourite part of Belsay has to be the Quarry Garden. As you follow the path through ravines cut out of huge rocks that tower above, you almost feel like you’ve been taken back to the Jurassic era! The Quarry Garden has its own microclimate. So you can expect to see all sorts of exotic plants that stand out in stark contrast to the more formal gardens at Belsay.
This hilltop fortress in the charming Northumberland village of Warkwoth takes your breath away the first time you see it. The magnificent cross-shaped keep which was once home to Harry Hotspur really is a sight to behold. I could stand at the entrance and admire it for ages but what I love most are the gorgeous views from the castle windows. You can see for miles!
On my most recent visit I discovered that there’s a free audio guide you can access through your phone. Simply scan the QR code in the kiosk window and let the detailed audio descriptions bring history to life as you wander around the grounds and remains of this captivating place. Bring your headphones to really immerse yourself in the experience.
This was my first time visiting Warkworth Castle with my four legged sidekick and I was delighted to discover that he could venture everywhere that I could. There are no tea rooms at Warkworth Castle, just a small but well stocked kiosk. However, its village location means there are several Northumbrian pubs and cafes a short walk away.
I would highly recommend a day out at both Warkworth Castle and Belsay Hall, just be sure to check out opening times on the English Heritage website as they operate reduced hours in the Autumn and Winter.
For many more ‘Endless Experiences’ in Northumberland, head over to the Visit Northumberland website. You can create a personal profile to narrow down the long list of inspiring ideas to the ones that best suit your interests.