How to spend a day in Rothbury, Northumberland.
Situated in the heart of Northumberland, Rothbury is a large village surrounded by the stunning backdrops of Cragside and the Simonside Hills. Sitting on the river Coquet, you will find an abundance of walks and wildlife within the Rothbury area. I always thought it looks such a quaint place to live but we also love to visit for the day.
From small independent shops to the lively and friendly atmosphere in the local pubs, Rothbury welcomes you with open arms and leaves you vowing to return before long.
Although it feels like it is tucked away, on the outskirts of Northumberland’s National Park, Rothbury makes up part of the wider Coquet Valley and can either be used as a stop off as you explore the wider vicinity or choose to spend the whole day here. Rothbury is also a popular area for motorbikes, and on a sunny bank holiday weekend, this picturesque village really comes to life.
Getting to Rothbury.
There is a public bus that runs all the way from Newcastle right through to Rothbury. The X14 to Thropton, picks you up in Haymarket bus station in Newcastle’s city centre. As an example, an adult Rothbury Routesaver costs £7.60. This is a day ticket so will get you to Rothbury and back. Take a look at the Arriva bus website to help plan your route.
The bus times are limited and usually run on the hour. These vary on weekends so do check ahead to plan your timings.
Alternatively, you can drive to Rothbury by car. Situated sixteen miles north of Morpeth and twelve miles south-west of Alnwick, the route into Rothbury is scenic providing a lovely drive out in the car.
Parking is free within Rothbury and there is parking in the main village, or I recommend parking at the riverside car park where there are approximately eighty car and coach parking spaces. The walk from here into the centre of Rothbury is a few hundred yards over a footbridge or there is another car park as you head west out of village with more parking spaces and picnic benches. From here to the centre of Rothbury is a half mile walk alongside the river. A beautiful spot for a meander.
Once you have arrived in Rothbury, either by public transport or car, I recommend heading along the high street to browse the independent shops.
For a village, tucked away within the Northumberland hills, Rothbury has a range of shopping options whether you are a foodie or looking for souvenirs. There is a Co-op, Mountain Warehouse, Boots and an RSPCA charity shop.
The toy shop, JR Soulsby & Sons, is situated on Front Street and is worth popping into if you are visiting with children. It is small but packed with a gorgeous range of toys and jigsaws.
The famous Rothbury butchers offers a range of local meats as well as the more exotic. They advertise their variety of meats including Zebra, Crocodile and Buffalo.
Be sure to walk right to the bottom end of the village as there are a few shops down the far end, including an antique shop and an art and craft gallery.
Once you have spent some time browsing, taking in the Front Street and surrounding views, head to the Vale Café for some mid-morning treats.
The Vale Café.
Offering a decent menu which is very reasonably priced, this laid back and friendly café is a great place to grab a coffee and cake. The menu offers a range of hot and cold drinks, as well as scones, an all-day breakfast, light bites and burgers.
Child friendly and with comfy booths to sit at, a good place to stop off if you are visiting as part of a larger party.
The Riverside Walk.
Having refuelled, head out of the village’s main shopping street, down a small path that runs alongside the church. There is a signpost directing you in the direction of the riverside, follow this and you will soon find yourself by the footbridge and play park next to the river Coquet.
If you are here with children, this will be a good time to let them explore the play park, which was recently refurbished in 2021. It is enclosed and suitable for all ages. You can either stay in the park with your children or sit on one of the benches overlooking the river, with the play park behind you. Across the river you will see the Rothbury Hospital, a smart looking building which has been recently saved by the locals to stay open.
The Rothbury golf course is also situated on the other side of the river and further up the valley you will see the famous Simonside Hills.
Once the kids have let off some steam in the park, head along the riverside path in the direction of west (turning right from the play park).
This path is flat and well laid out, making it a popular walking route for visitors, locals and dog walkers.
If you walk along the path for just over a mile, you will reach Lady’s Bridge. Here you can either carry along the path, over a small footbridge which leads onto fields taking you to the next village of Thropton. Otherwise turn back on yourself and walk back into Rothbury. It is a pleasant walk with gorgeous views and the river is always calming to watch, isn’t it?
If you want to extend this walk, once you are back by the play park, carry on following the river about a quarter of a mile you will come across some stepping stones across the river. You can then loop back over the road bridge and back into Rothbury main street.
By the time you have checked out the shops, visited the café and walked along the river, it will now be the afternoon.
If the weather allows, take a picnic to enjoy beside the river. As previously mentioned, there are a number of picnic benches or plenty of space to lay out a rug. You could even pop into the fish and chip shop located on the Front Street for takeaway chips to enjoy down by the river.
This is a popular spot in the summer months, with people splashing in the shallow part of the river, letting the kids play in the park and enjoying food and drinks beside the river. Take a fishing net or food for the ducks as this is a perfect location for those kinds of activities.
If you want to try a local ale, head to one of the three main pubs: The Newcastle House, The Turks Head or The Queens Head. For a good atmosphere I recommend a visit to The Newcastle House.
There is also a microbrewery called The Narrow Nick, which will be the best place for your local ales with a more personal touch.
You may just want to sit and take in the views, enjoying a lazy afternoon. Or if you are still feeling adventurous, the National Trust property of Cragside is a short car journey up the road (around a mile from Rothbury centre). The bus doesn’t stop outside the main entrance so you would have to walk up which I wouldn’t recommend doing with children as it goes alongside the main road.
Other points of interest near Rothbury, Northumberland.
I mentioned visiting Cragside, a National Trust property with extensive grounds, Labyrinth, woodland walks and play area. This is a day out in itself so you may want to leave more time for visiting here.
Rothbury is on the outskirts of the wonderful Northumberland National Park, with fantastic walks in the Simonside Hills, Hepple and Alnwinton Valley are all worth exploring for great walks and even more amazing scenery.
Will you be adding Rothbury to your itinerary when visiting Northumberland?