48 hours in Northumberland - what to do on a weekend in Northumberland
Welcome to Northumberland – the county that has so much on offer it really is a crowd pleaser. This here is your guide on what to do on a weekend in Northumberland. With lots to cram in during your visit to this beautiful county, I can guarantee you will want to see as much of it as possible in the 48 hours you are here. Situated in the real North of England, Northumberland borders Scotland, Cumbria and Tyneside, with the nearest city being Newcastle Upon Tyne.
One of the great things about Northumberland is that you can be in the hub bub of the busy city centre one minute and then find yourself lost in rolling hills and countryside the next. The Northumberland coast is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and stretches over forty miles from Berwick Upon Tweed down to the estuary of the river Croquet. It won’t be until you are actually stood on one of the many stunning beaches, that you truly appreciate how unique this coastline is. You will also find Northumberland has the largest protected areas of night skies in Europe as well as being home to the Earl Grey tea.
Fun fact: Northumberland has the most castles than any other county in England (over seventy), so I have of course included at least two in your what to do on a weekend in Northumberland guide. It would be rude not to.
As well as taking in the beautiful scenery, you can be sure to find amazing restaurants serving delicious, locally sourced foods, chat to the friendly locals and shop around the independent businesses that help make this county so great.
So how will you spend your 48 hours in Northumberland? Well pack your walking boots and evening attire because this really is the county which offers it all…
We are starting off in the west of the county in the pretty village of Corbridge, just 16 miles west of Newcastle and four miles from Hexham. Use the car park just over the bridge to then walk back into the village centre, allowing you chance to peruse the independent shops and cafes. The Autumn and around Christmas are particularly lovely times to visit here.
Visit The Watling Coffee House which is perfectly located near the market square, to fuel up ready for your busy afternoon and be sure to leave room for some pudding as the cakes here are dreamy.
Drive over to Vindolanda, located just south of the famous Hadrian’s Wall, this is an old Roman Fort and museum. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much is on offer at this site and be sure to make time to walk round the Roman gardens: they are very pretty. If you aren’t too full for lunch, I recommend popping into the café for a flat white and to take in the décor which has been tastefully done and offers seating both inside and out.
The museum is modern and you will be blown away by some of the artefacts and bones found at the excavation site. It is in a breathtaking part of the valley and you aren’t too far either from the famous “Sycamore Gap”, which is the tree along Hadrian’s Wall as seen in the Robin Hood Prince of Thieves film.
So you have now had a small taste of western Northumberland, I imagine you are looking for somewhere cosy to stay for the night. Maybe somewhere a little bit different as you are still feeling adventurous?
I recommend a night’s stay at Sycamore Glamping Pods. Situated on a working farm, there are two pods and one BBQ hut so you can take your own food and get all cosy around the fire. The BBQ hut comes complete with all the utensils you would need, cushioned seats, twinkling fairy lights, charcoal and matches and even a chefs apron. Ring ahead and request for the local butcher to deliver the meat so it is ready and waiting for your arrival.
The location of the pods means you are treated to the most stunning starry nights sky – as long as the weather plays ball.
After a cooked breakfast in your pod, pack up the car and drive over the stunning route along the A68, which will take your breath away with the scenery. You are going to make your way over to Alnwick, in the north of the county. Depending on how many photo stops you take, the drive should only take around forty five minutes, meaning that when you arrive in Alnwick you will have time to visit Barter Books, one of Britain’s largest second hand book stores, before lunch.
A visit to Barter Books is a must, which is why I have added it in to my what to do on a weekend in Northumberland guide. Even more so if you have a book lover in your party. Even if you don’t think you are that fussed about book shops, you will still find yourself enchanted by this second hand book shop, transformed from an old railway station. Look out for the small model trains passing over your head as you walk between the book shelves. You can pick up souvenirs here too if wanted.
Take the car into the centre of Alnwick where there is ample parking and is free. Have a wander past the Playhouse, which is also home to the Alnwick library and coffee shop. The Playhouse has a cinema screen but also hosts performances from amateur dramatics and well known local bands. Walk through the arch, to find an array of coffee shops and pubs. Visit The Dirty Bottles for lunch, a haunted yet iconic pub which has been renovated recently and now become a trendy spot within the town to eat.
Next up on the itinerary is a visit to the famous Alnwick Castle and Gardens. The castle found fame after it was used for some of the filming for the first two Harry Potter films, replicating the grounds of Hogwarts school.
The castle has taken on its new role with pride, and you can expect to see plenty of Harry Potter references as you explore the grounds and part of the castle. If you are feeling ambitious you could even try your hand at broomstick lessons. The Duke of Northumberland resides at the castle so only parts of it are open to the public.
After visiting the castle, you can walk along to the Alnwick Gardens. Please note you have to book tickets separately for the castle and gardens. If it is getting too pricey, I would definitely recommend a visit to the gardens over the castle. The stunning cascade fountains, labyrinth and treehouse aren’t to be missed.
After your busy day in Alnwick, head up the coast towards Seahouses. A harbour village which sits just south of the stunning Bamburgh castle. Park your car up overlooking the harbour and out to the Farne Islands. If you have your binoculars with you, get them ready in case you are lucky enough to spot any dolphins or puffins that are often seen in this area of the coast.
You can’t beat fish and chips at the coast can you? So guess what is on the menu for tea tonight… pop into any one of the three fish and chip shops in Seahouses to enjoy a real coastal treat. Personally I recommend Neptunes Fish Restaurant, then after tea, and if the evening is nice, enjoy a stroll along the harbour taking in the views of the Farnes and Bamburgh castle.
Check in to The Bamburgh Castle Inn for your night’s stay and enjoy drinks at the cosy bar which also overlooks the harbour.
After your comfortable night’s sleep and tasty breakfast, drive five minutes up the coast to the village of Bamburgh where you can either head to the beach for a bracing, morning walk or visit Bamburgh Castle which really is one the of most stunning castles in Northumberland.
Stock up on souvenirs and treats from the independent shops and cafes in Bamburgh village before you head home. If you are feeling adventurous and have time, I would also recommend a drive a little further up the coast towards the island of Lindisfarne or more commonly known as Holy Island. Check tide times before visiting as the island is completely cut off at high tide, but the Lindisfarne Castle is worth a wander around (National Trust owned) and have a sample of the famous Lindisfarne mead.