A little information about what you will find in Northumberland.
Click on any of the headings below.

Northumberland the County

Northumberland has been a border territory for almost 2,000 years - a land of history and heritage set amidst some of the loveliest scenery in Britain.
Today it still contains many reminders of some of the country's most important historical periods.
In Northumberland, the earliest monuments are about 5,000 years old but there is evidence of human activity going back 8,000 years. At this time the people were nomadic. They did not build permanent houses but traveled across the land gathering plants and vegetables and following the herds of deer which were their main source of food. Animal skin would have been used for tents and clothing whilst tools would have been from bones, stone or flint. These ancient tools can still be found in rock shelters and caves. It was not until people started to farm and to herd animals that they constructed their permanent homes and elaborate religious and funeral monuments. In fact many signs of our predecessors can be found amongst the rolling hills.
In the Dark Ages, after the Romans left Britain, Northumberland was first known as Bernicia and was ruled by various Anglo-Saxon kings. They are known to have had at least three castles.
Two of these were at Ad Gefrin and Maelmin, near Milfield, on the A697, 5 miles north of Wooler.
The third was at Bamburgh, on the same site as the present castle.
The Anglo-Saxons were, of course, regarded as invaders by the native Celtic Britons whose own kings are best remembered by the legendary King Arthur. It was on the Milfield Plain that Arthur is supposed to have fought and won one of his greatest battles against the Anglo-Saxons and the Picts (from present day Scotland), after which he took possession of at least one Angle castle – at Bamburgh.
Legend relates that it was Bamburgh Castle that Arthur then gave to Sir Lancelot, in recognition of his defence of Queen Guenevire, and which Lancelot called "Joyous Gard". The legend may well be true for the Celtic name for Bamburgh was "Din Gardi".

A special feature of Northumberland life is the many agricultural shows which are held across the County during the summer.
These began as livestock competitions in which local farmers competed against one another for the best sheep, cattle and other animals. Over the years, additional events were added. These varied from show to show but most shows now include produce and flower competitions, demonstrations, trade and craft stalls, sheep dog trials, Cumberland wrestling, music and entertainment, refreshments and a gymkhana.
No summer visit to Northumberland is complete without visiting at least one of these shows, the three largest of which are: The Northumberland County Show in Corbridge (always the first agricultural show of the season), the Bellingham show (the inspiration for Philip Larkin's poem "Show Saturday") and the Glendale Show, near Wooler. The Alwinton Border Shepherd's Show is a particularly significant event as it signals the end of summer and the time for the hill farmers to start their winter preparations.

Northumberland National Park

The Park is Northumberland's greatest scenic treasure.
It stretches for over 60 miles from the rounded Cheviot hills which form the border with Scotland to Hadrian's Wall in the south. Its 398 square miles also contain delightful wooded valleys and some of the finest stretches of open moorland in the country. While few areas of the park are owned by the Park Authority - most is in private hands or owned by the Ministry of Defence - the Authority seeks to ensure that the landscape is conserved and that adequate provision is made for the public to enjoy the beautiful countryside. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the Park .The park is divided into two main sections: High Hills Country and Reiver Country.
High Hills Country is the northern part of the National Park and is dominated by the Cheviot Hills. Much of England is a crowded, cluttered land; but here a walk on the open hills without a living soul for miles around makes a profound impression. There are three main Cheviot valleys of interest to the visitor: The Harthope Valley, the Breamish Valley and Coquetdale.
The Harthope Valley is accessed from the moorland town of Wooler via the villages of Earle and Middleton Hall. The part of the valley to the south of Middleton Hall is known as Happy Valley and is a popular local beauty spot. Beyond Middleton Hall the road rises up a very steep hill from where the whole of the Harthope Valley comes into view with the burn meandering over the flat valley floor. There are a number of paths giving circular walks from the valley bottom to the higher ground alongside.
Breamish Valley is approached from the villages of Brandon and Ingram, a 10 minute drive from Fenwick cottage. The Breamish Valley is the most popular of the Cheviot valleys. As in the Harthope Valley there are many open access areas, picnic sites and car parking areas for visitors. At Ingram, there is a National Park Visitor Centre which provides information on the history and wildlife of the valley, with suggested walks and cycle routes. . Grassy paths lead out of the valley to such sites as Brough Law iron age hill fort and Linhope Spout waterfall.
Coquetdale : The Coquet valley is as varied and interesting as it is lovely and it is generally regarded as the gentlest of the Cheviot valleys. The river is particularly popular with anglers who fish for both salmon and trout. At Rothbury there is a National Park Visitor Centre which provides a wide range of information on the area. Beyond Alwinton at the head of the valley the road becomes very narrow and winding with spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. A wonderful way to see the Cheviots is from horse back: contact the Kimmerston Riding Centre in Wooler, Telephone: ++44 (0) 1890 216283


Pronounced Anick
Just a few miles inland from the coast and a 12 minute drive from Fenwick Cottage, lies the old market town of Alnwick , labeled by the Victorians "the Windsor of the North"and more recently the "Versailles of the North". Here you will find delightful old inns and good shopping facilities. One of our favourites is Barter Books situated in the old railway station, where you can browse an immense collection of second hand books over a cup of coffee. The town centre is entered from the south through the medieval arch of Hotspur Tower, and one is led through the town to the great barbican guarding the gateway to Alnwick Castle, home to the Dukes of Northumberland. Featured in many Hollywood movies, the Castle can be seen prominently in Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves and more recently the Harry Potter films. The Castle is open to the public during the tourist season and is well worth a tour . The beautiful grounds were landscaped by Capability Brown in 1765 and there is a delightful walk along the River Aln through the"pastures" - the walks and views in the peace of Hulme Park are splendid settings for a day out. Recently the Duchess of Northumberland has completed a magnificent garden centre which will surely become one of the regions most important tourist attractions. Follow the river to the coast and you come upon the estuary where the Aln flows into the North Sea. Here lies Alnmouth, once a major grain shipping port, and reputedly smugglers haven, it is now a popular holiday village with beautiful sandy beaches. It has one of the oldest golf courses in England, where golf can be played at extremely reasonable rates.
For great up to the minute information on the town and area go to Alnwick on Lion: a very unofficial guide.


Pronounced "Bam-brer". Once the capital of the 7th century Kingdom of Northumbria, it is now a seaside village with a population of only 400, and dominated by the magnificent Bamburgh Castle. It is one of the most impressive sites of the Northumberland coastline as it rears above the sea and the little village at its foot. The Castle was founded in 547 by King Ida and the village has a fine Norman Church dedicated to St. Aidan who died in the village in 654. The village was given by King Ida's grandson to his wife Bebba and became known as Bebbanburgh, from which the modern name derives. The Castle is open to the Public for most of the tourist season and has wonderful displays of weapons and relics from over the years. Bamburgh boasts one of the finest beaches in Northumberland with its long expanses of pale golden sands.
Budle Bay just a few miles to the north is a well known bird watchers paradise.

Berwick on Tweed

Pronounced "Berrick". This historic border market town changed hands between England and Scotland no less than 14 times between its capture by the Scots, when it was claimed as a Scottish town by King Malcolm in 1018, and its eventual retaking by the English in 1482. In the 12th-13th centuries it had become Scotland's leading seaport and a town of wealth and distinction but much was destroyed in the many subsequent sieges the town had to endure. Elizabeth I built the town walls to protect the town from further raids and they remain the most complete set of Tudor town walls in Europe.The town's history goes back to the Kingdom of Bernicia in 547 and Berwick today accepts its dual personality standing on the romantic River Tweed - a Scottish river, but the town itself remaining English. Now it is the only English town with a team in the Scottish Football League: Berwick Rangers - Northumberland's only national league football club. The town is significant for its three river bridges, the Elizabethan wall and gateways, and fine Georgian houses. The renovated Maltings Theatre is on the Quayside. Spittal, on the opposite bank of the river, has beautiful stretches of sandy beaches, a promenade, and serves as Berwick's seaside resort and during the season salmon poachers can be spotted casting their nets in the river.

Farne Islands

A very worthwhile short trip by boat from Seahouses harbour takes you to the beautiful Farnes, a cluster of islands hugging the coast. (Contact Billy Shiels for boat trips Telephone: ++44 (0) 1665 720308 ). In the past they have been a major hazard to shipping but now they are renowned bird sanctuary surrounded by seals and the occasional whale.
In 1838 the Islands were the scene of a famous rescue when Grace Darling and her father, the Master of the Farne lighthouse, rescued the survivors of the shipwrecked SS Forfarshire. After difficulties with its engine boilers, the Forfarshire (on a journey from Hull to Dundee) with about 60 people on board struck the rocks of a neighbouring island on a stormy night. Some of the crew and one passenger escaped on the only lifeboat on board but many of the passengers (who had been in their cabins below deck) were drowned. As morning dawned, 9 remaining survivors (5 crew and 4 passengers) were seen clinging to the rocks and Grace and her father rowed to their rescue and then looked after them in the lighthouse for 3 days. To her dismay she became a great Victorian celebrity with countless books, magazine articles, poems (including one by Swinburne) and paintings created in her honour. She died of consumption (tuberculosis) at the age of only 26 and was buried at Bamburgh church. A monument in the churchyard was designed to be seen by any passing ship. The Grace Darling Museum in the village contains many mementoes, including the original little boat which she and her father rowed to the rescue. A memorial in St Cuthbert's chapel on the Farne Islands includes the inscription: "Pious and pure, modest and yet so brave, though young so wise, though meek so resolute"

Hadrian's Wall

The Romans occupied Britain from the middle of the 1st century to the beginning of the 5th century and for much of this time Northumberland was the very edge of their mighty empire. It was in 122 AD that the Emperor Hadrian ordered the building of a wall across the country from the Tyne to the Solway to separate the land of the Britons from the land of the Picts. When it was built in stone, the Wall was some 73 miles long and 5 metres high. It was one of the Roman Empire's greatest feats of engineering. Today, the best remaining sections of the Wall in Northumberland are only 1 metre high but they are still very impressive. (Indeed one of the sections of the Wall makes a guest appearance in "Robin Hood Prince of Thieves"). Now, most of the best remaining sections and associated forts are in the south of the Northumberland National Park. A curiosity about the Wall is that it is often used as an alternative term for the Scottish border - "The other side of Hadrian's Wall" being used (especially by people from the south of England) to mean Scotland. In fact, 90% of the English county of Northumberland is north of the Wall and at no point in its entire length does the Wall separate the two countries. The tribe of people known as "Scots" did not come to Britain (from Ireland) until hundreds of years after the Romans had left the country. In Roman times, the area now called Scotland was populated by "Picts".
When it was built in stone, the Wall was some 73 miles long and 5 metres high. It was one of the Roman Empire's greatest feats of engineering. Today, the best remaining sections of the Wall in Northumberland are only 1 metre high but they are still very impressive. They may be accessed from signposted car parks off the B6318, Military Road, which runs parallel to the A69, Newcastle to Carlisle, Highway. There are good car parks close to the Wall at Housesteads (see below), Steel Rigg, Cawfields and Walltown. A year round "Hadrian's Wall Bus" connects all the major sites to the main town of Hexham. Other sections of the Wall are in the neighbouring counties of Cumbria and Tyne & Wear.
Located some 15 miles north of the Wall, Brigantium is an archeological centre with reconstructions of a Romano-British farm and round house; a Mesolithic hunting camp and rock shelter; Roman defences and a Roman road; and a bronze age burial and stone circle.
Corbridge. The extensive remains of a major Roman town and supply base for Hadrian's Wall - with particularly well preserved granaries. The remains provide evidence of a succession of buildings on what was, in Roman times, the main road from York to Scotland. The excellent museum displays artefacts from the site including the famous Corbridge Lion fountain head.Housesteads Roman Fort (English Heritage / National Trust)
Off the B6318. The most complete Roman Fort in Britain; the north wall actually incorporates Hadrian's Wall. The fort contains the only visible example of a Roman hospital in Britain and superbly preserved latrines and flush system (see photo). There is a also a good museum, a large Visitor Centre with many books and souvenir items and, of course, breathtaking views.
Roman Vindolanda Near Bardon Mill, signposted from the A69 and B6318.
Fort and civilian settlement with ongoing excavations and a full size reconstruction of a section of Hadrian's Wall in both turf and stone. There is a reconstruction of a full size Roman temple. The superb museum has rare Roman writing tablets (including an invitation to a party!), leathers, textiles, pottery and wooden objects. There is also an excellent shop and country restaurant. Roman Army Museum Off the B6318, beside the Walltown Picnic Site, near Greenhead, 3 miles from the market town of Haltwhistle. The museum provides a unique insight into the daily life of a Roman soldier based on Hadrian's Wall.

Keilder Water

With a 27 mile shoreline, Kielder Water is the largest man-made lake in Western Europe. It is the main reason why there are never any water shortages in Northumberland (unlike many other parts of England) even though the county as a whole is one of the driest in the country. Kielder's quiet beauty is enhanced by a range of activities including sailing and other watersports, fishing and a ferry cruiser.
The lake sits deep within the massive Kielder Forest, Britain's largest forest, which covers an area of over 230 square miles. Predominantly Sitka and Norway Spruce, the forest is currently being restructured to include a wider range of species including many more broadleaf trees. Hills, rivers and open areas add to the diversity of the forest which is one of the few places in England which is still home to native red squirrels (rather than American grey squirrels). There are also as many as 6,000 roe deer in the forest and the birdlife includes many species of birds of prey. Walking, cycling and horse riding are all well catered for in the forest. An interesting 13 mile Forest Toll road connects Kielder Village at the head of the reservoir to Byrness on the A68. Kielder currently attracts around 1/2 million visitors a year and the main places to visit in the Kielder area are:
The Northumbria Water Visitor Centre at Tower Knowe has tourist information, a shop, restaurant, picnic facilities, and an exhibition tracing the history of the area. It is fully accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.At the Leaplish Waterside Park there is sailing, canoeing, motor boating, windsurfing and an indoor swimming pool. Plus shop, lakeside restaurant, crazy golf, cycle hire and Kielder Water Cruises. Also at Leaplish is the Kielder Bird of Prey Centre.
Forest Enterprise exhibition at Keilder Castle has information on the birds, wildlife, history and working of the Kielder Forest. A TV monitor shows recent footage of a nearby sparrowhawk nesting site. It is also the starting point for many self guided walks and trails.

Lindisfarne & Holy Island

The island of Lindisfarne is reached only across a causeway at low tide so you will need to check the tide timetables before your visit.
Nothing remains of the original monastery which was founded in the 7th century by St Aidan. Following its destruction by the Vikings in 793, it was 400 years before Lindisfarne was re-established as a Benedictine priory. This new priory was itself destroyed by Henry VIII in the 16th century and the stones were used to build Lindisfarne Castle. The dramatic "rainbow arch" over the nave of the priory still stands. The excellent Visitor Centre explains how the monks used to live on this wind-swept island. A selection of books and celtic jewellery is also on sale. Outside, the statue of St Aiden is a popular subject for visitors' photographs.After King Oswald of Northumbria won the battle of Heavenfield, he invited the Christian monks of Iona to establish a Priory on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which they did in 635 AD. The Priory became one of the most important seats of Christian learning in Western Europe, its greatest bishop being St Cuthbert. After Cuthbert's death in 696AD, the Priory produced possibly the 7th century's greatest work of art, the beautiful Lindisfarne Gospels (now in the British Library, London).

Ancient History

Cup and Ring Marks for instance may be found on exposed rock faces in the northern hills. They usually involve cup shaped depressions surrounded by concentric circles, joined by grooves. One of the most dramatic sites is at Lordenshaw 3 miles south of Rothbury. Possibly as old as 5,000 years, these marks would have required great patience and skill to chisel into the rock but today their meaning has been lost in the mists of time. Despite their meaning having been lost over time, they receive a lot of interest from modern mystics believing in earth magic.

Stone Circles
Thought to have primarily religious origins from some 4,000 years ago, sometimes these circles are combined with ancient burial sites. Amongst the most interesting in Northumberland are the Hethpool Stone Circle in the College Valley (northern Cheviots), and the Three Kings Stone Circle near Byrness in Redesdale.

Burial Cairns
There are many remains of these cairns in Northumberland which formed the focus of religious and funery activities some 3,500 years ago. Initially bodies were buried in stone cisterns and were accompanied by gifts for the afterlife. A particularly good example may be found at Blawearie, (check out the Geo Caching web site) near Old Bewick, some 10 miles north west of Alnwick.

Hill Forts
Dating back some 2,500 years, these iron age forts consist of stone ramparts which encircle the crest of a rounded hill within which stone or wood dwellings would have been constructed. Good examples which are accessible for visitors include Yeavering Bell, near Wooler; Brough Law in the Breamish Valley, near Ingram; Ros Castle, near Chillingham; and Lordenshaw Fort near Rothbury. At Dunstan Hill, not far from Embleton on the Northumberland coast, a modern "iron age" dwelling has been rebuilt, close to some remaining ramparts.


Weather at the moment for Alnwick.
Remember the weather on the hills is frequently different to that on the coast !

Local History Group

The area abounds with local history as might be expected and there is a History Society based in Whittingham Village..
Check them out at The Aln & Breamish History Society
I have downloaded one of their newsletters which makes interesting reading on a rainy day.

Some more local Information

Sea Fishing
There are regular fishing boat trips from Seahouses. You have to book well in advance but they are great fun. Telephone 01665 720 308.

Seahouses Golf Course is a traditional flat links course which boast two of the most prestigious par threes in the North of England. Seahouses Gold Course offers our visitors a £4 discount on the standard green fee of £20. Tel 01665 720 794.
Bamburgh Castle Golf Club has been called the most beautiful course in Britain, if not the world. It's a hilltop links with staggering views. They always make non-members welcome unless there is a competition which is usually a Saturday during the summer between 8am and 5pm.
Goswick Golf Club is an outstanding links course which has been selected to host the open championship for the next five years. It's also a very traditional course. Telephone 01289 387 256.
Alnmouth Golf Club overlooks the splendours of both Foxton and Alnmouth Bay on the Northumberland coastline in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. It is widely regarded as one of the finest golf courses in the North East of England.

Horse Riding
• There is an excellent local riding school at Kimmerston. They do one hour treks, breathtaking beach rides on Holy Island and hill rides through the Cheviots. Telephone number 01668 216 283. Ask for Jane.

You want bangers ? Carter's in Bamburgh, between the Castle Hotel and The Vic, super locally made sausages.
Smoked Fish
"Swallow Fish" in the back streets of Seahouses, above the harbour should not be missed.

If you have any further information you feel is relevant I would be delighted to hear from you and consider adding it to the web site.