Northumberland has been crowned the title of best UK holiday county to visit in the British Travel Awards and I want to share with you why it’s the best!
Avid readers will know I am a proud Geordie but since moving back to my native North East last year I’ve been showing my hubby the delights of Northumberland too.
Northumberland has so much to offer from golden beaches, dramatic hills, lush wide-open spaces and a turbulent historic past to explore.
It’s about bloody time it was recognised as a fantastic place to visit and this accolade from the British Travel Awards will hopefully put Northumberland on the map for more people.
Competition was fierce this year with Northumberland up against nine other regions including Cornwall, Peak District, Scottish Highlands, Cumbria and The Lake District.
So what makes Northumberland so great then?
Why Northumberland is the best UK holiday county
If you love the feel of golden sand beneath you toes and that salty sea air filling your nostrils then a visit to the magnificent coastline should certainly satisfy you.
There’s more than 30 miles of beaches along the spectacular Northumberland Coast with retro-chic seaside towns such as Seahouses where you can promenade along the pier, play at the penny arcades and tuck into the obligatory fish and chips.
Newbiggin-by-the-Sea is home to Britain’s first permanent coastal sculpture The Couples as well as some tasty fish and chips! You can see what we got up to over the May Bank Holiday weekend at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea here.
I have to say Bamburgh beach is my favourite along this stretch of the coast and it’s where I have lots of fond childhood memories.
It’s steeped in history and there’s loads to do in the village.
Of course you can pay a visit to the castle but there’s also impressive stretches of pure golden sandy beaches, a variety of proper English tea rooms and restaurants, St Aidan’s Church and a newly renovated museum dedicated to Grace Darling and much more!
We had a wonderful day at beautiful Bamburgh including a tour of the castle and some gorgeous fresh crab – read all about it here.
Did you know Northumberland has more castle sites than any other county in the whole of England – 70 in fact!
Warkworth, Dunstanburgh, Bamburgh and Lindisfarne castles all stand guard along the dramatic coast.
Bamburgh Castle and Alnwick are probably the two most well-known.
Alnwick Castle is perfect for Harry Potter fans and the Alnwick Gardens is also worth a visit – you can buy a joint ticket to do both attractions which I would really recommend.
Bamburgh Castle is so impressive, good value and well worth a visit.
There’s also Chillingham Castle reputedly one of the most haunted castle in England as well as the award-winning and stunning Langley Castle Hotel where I’ve been to a couple of weddings.
Walkers really are spoilt for choice when it comes to Northumberland whether its long distance routes with cosy pubs or a more leisurely curricular walk to take in pretty hamlets and soak up the rich wildlife along the coast and countryside.
Here’s three I would definitely recommend:
Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail
You can do the 84-mile signposted trail which stretches from coast-to-coast or there are many circular walks which take in some of the most scenic areas around the famous Wall.
The Northumberland Coastal Path
I recommend heading north of Bamburgh Castle where the coast is a little wilder –you have the sea on one side and sand dunes on the other and in the horizon you can see Lindisfarne Castle.
St Cuthbert’s Way
It’s been a long time since I did this walk but it’s varied in terrain and exciting. This cross-border route links Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders, and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. The route has everything from the rugged terrain of the Cheviot Hills, to the enormous sandy beaches of the Northumberland coast. You’ll see ancient castles, churches and abbeys, as well as charming villages and an array of wildlife along the way.
For wildlife lovers I would recommend a visit to one of Northumberland’s amazing coastal nature reserves like the Farne Islands, Coquet Island and Druridge Bay.
The Northumberland County Show is a great day out for all the family and the hubby and I took our in-laws with us back in May this year – there’s an array of animals including the hilarious Sheep Show!
It was a cracking day out and you can read all about it here.
Northumberland is also home to two areas of outstanding natural beauty – the North Penines and Northumberland National Park.
The Northumberland Wildlife Trust runs a range of family-friendly wildlife activities during the summer months including mini-beast trails rock pooling and otter walks.
Northumberland is also home to Europe’s largest area of protected night sky – Northumberland International Dark Sky Park so for any star gazers I would recommend bringing your telescopes or binoculars for a right treat (weather dependent of course)!
When my husband and I had our glamping trip in Northumberland National Park earlier this year we were amazed at how much we could see and the stunning views. Find out all about our Hesleyside Huts glamping holiday here.
We’ve also enjoyed a few visits to the gorgeous Slaley Hall in Northumberland – we celebrated our two year wedding anniversary with an overnight stay and fabulous spa treatments.
We were also invited to attend the summer soirée and had a mooch around the stunning ornamental gardens.
And we enjoyed a delicious Afternoon Tea – the delicate birdcage for me and the more manly bookcase for the hubby.
I would definitely recommend a visit to Slaley Hall if you’re in the area.