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Trip List by WaltR

August in Northumberland

3 Sep 2006  First time visitor to Northumberland rather than go abroad
4.0 of 5 stars based on 8 votes

Where to stay, where to go, what to see and useful tips

  • 1. The Old Manse
    The Old Manse Chatton, Chatton, Northumberland

    An ideal base for visiting Northumberland - 10 minutes off the AI in Chatton and handy for Holy Island and Alnwick. Friendly and efficient with wonderful breakfasts and excellent advice on roads to use, the causeway to Holy Island and local attractions.

  • 2. Hadrian's Wall
    Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland, England

    Don't go on the A69 main road but drive along the B6318 where you'll follow the line of the wall. Beware of the hidden dips though both from a visibility point of view and also your suspension!!! Housesteads Fort is certainly worth a visit and also Vindolanda a few minutes farther on.

  • 3. Alnwick Garden
    The Alnwick Garden, Alnwick, Northumberland

    The water features here will certainly appeal to children. For keen gardeners the formal gardens are certainly worth a look and make sure you visit the poison garden but make sure you follow the guides advice. We saw people who had sniffed some of the plants and were quite clearly regretting it. The treehouse is well worth a visit too and make sure you see the whole video about the history of the garden here. It lasts about 20-30 minutes but sit and watch it the whole way through and don't worry about the swaying it's only the wind making the house move a bit!! You can visit the treehouse restaurant without having to buy a meal and prices here are expensive and by some accounts not worth it. If you park in the car park make sure you ask for a token for the barrier otherwise you won't get out - there should be clearer instructions for this. You used to be able to get a joint ticket for the Garden and the Castle but because of lottery funding restrictions they are now separate. I suppose you could see the gardens and the castle in one visit but just remember you're on holiday so take a step back and see them on different days.

  • 4. Alnwick Castle
    The Alnwick Garden, Alnwick, Northumberland

    If you've got youg children then this will appeal to Harry Potter fans as two of the films were set here. There are guided tours for Harry Potter fans but they tend to be very large so hedge your bets and go on the other guided tour which still mentions HP. The state rooms are well worth a visit especially when you think the family use them during the winter when the castle is closed to visitors. There's a good cafe here and also a new restaurant (The Sanctuary) which is a cheaper alternative to the Treehouse Restaurant in the garden. Make sure you get a token for the car park and if you're planning to visit either the garden and/or the castle get there early otherwise you'll be in the overflow car park which is a bit of a hike

  • 5. Holy Island
    Holy Island, Northumberland

    Whatever you do don't take any chances on the causeway. Safe crossing times are readily available in tourist information centres, hotels, b&b's, libraries, notice boards and at each end of the causeway. You may think you can get across in time but I think an insurance company would take a different view - the owner of the place where we were staying told us that 2 of her guests had lost their cars this year trying to beat the tide. The castle doesn't open on Mondays unless it's a bank holiday so plan your visit to take that into account. Also remember that there is no resident doctor on the island so in an emergency and with the causeway covered you might become a guest of the RAF Search and Rescue helicopter crew!! There's more to see in the castle than the priory but although the castle is relatively small it's easy to spend a couple of hours there. Plenty of leaflets to explain what you're seeing but how I dislike those people who will insist on reading out in a very loud voice what's on it. It's a strange feeling but although the money is obviously welcome on the island the residents don't seem particularly keen on tourists. Apparently there are plenty of holiday/second homes on the island but there's no need to dislike all visitors.

  • 6. Wallington House
    Wallington Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland

    Perhaps it is Tyne and Wear but it feels more like Northumberland. A nice house but the gardens are the attraction here. The walled garden is a real gem but for us the highlight is the hide in the woods. If you stay long enough there is a good chance you will see red squirrel, deer, rabbits and all sorts of birds. However if you go and take children please please make sure they know how to behave and can keep quiet otherwise you won't see a thing. A nice restaurant/cafe here too.

  • 7. Ford and Etal

    Lady Waterford Hall at Etal is the former school hall on the estate where the walls are painted with scenes from the bible. It's certainly not your run of the mill tourist attraction and although you probably won't spend too much time here it's worth a visit and isn't too expensive. Etal Castle has a good audio guide and the small museum has informative notice boards that tell what happened. In any other area it would be a highlight but in Northumberland there are so many other castles to look at - having said that it's probably still worth a visit perhaps on the inland route to Edinburgh.