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Luxury Travel


Luxury Travel

48 hours in Northumberland

Picturesque towns, living history, rolling countryside and a coastline that’s an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty make Northumberland a crowd pleaser, says Beth Wardell

Welcome to the North of England, truly. Northumberland borders Scotland as well as County Durham, Cumbria and Tyneside, is the sparsest populated county in England and has no cities, although Newcastle Upon Tyne is close by. Not only is Northumberland the home of Earl Grey tea but it has more castles than any other county in England (over 70) and sits under the largest protected area of night sky in Europe.

This is a feature from Issue 9 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.

Friday afternoon

Just 16 miles west of Newcastle is the pretty village of Corbridge where you can explore an impressive array of independent shops and cafes. The Watling Coffee House is the perfect place to fuel up on tasty cakes. From here it’s a 25-minute drive to Vindolanda, a Roman fort and museum just south of Hadrian’s Wall. Take your time to appreciate the well-preserved artefacts, excavated bones and pretty gardens. If you have time, take a walk into the stunning surrounding countryside. Close by is Sycamore Gap, a pretty part of Hadrian’s Wall that has a single tree growing out of it and starred in the film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. Head to the Langley Castle Hotel to give yourself time to enjoy your four-poster bed and spa bath and soak up the atmosphere in its grand halls, complete with suits of armour.

Saturday Morning

After breakfast, hit the road and make sure you make time for plenty of photo stops along the stunning A68 towards Alnwick. There is ample free parking in the centre of town so drive on in. Pay a visit to Barter Books, one of Britain’s largest second hand book stores. This enchanting treasure trove of tomes is housed in an old railway station and as you browse the shelves you’ll notice tiny trains passing over your head on a model railway. From here, wander to the Playhouse. This arts centre is home to the Alnwick library, a coffee shop and a cinema, as well as hosting plays and gigs. Go to The Dirty Bottles for lunch, a purportedly haunted pub that’s had a stylish makeover and offers English classics like fish and chips with American favourites like beef brisket.

Saturday Afternoon

Alnwick Castle found fame after it was used as a film location in the first two Harry Potter films, replicating the grounds of Hogwarts. You can expect plenty of Potter references as you explore and you can even try your hand at a broomstick lesson! The palatial interiors of the staterooms in the castle keep, with their gilded ceilings, silk wall hangings and Old Master paintings, are a highlight. Next to the castle are the Alnwick Gardens, which you will need a separate ticket for. Originally designed by Capability Brown, the gardens were revived from a state of disrepair at the turn of the 21st century and now have modern, quirky features including a bamboo labyrinth, a garden of poisonous plants and one of the world’s largest treehouses. 

Saturday evenng

Head up the coast towards Seahouses, a harbour village just south of Bamburgh castle. Park your car up overlooking the pretty harbour and across to the Farne Islands. If you take your binoculars with you might spot some dolphins or puffins. You can’t beat fish and chips at the seaside so stop at Neptune’s Fish Restaurant for a hearty dinner. If it’s a nice evening, take a stroll along the harbour. Or head to your home for the night, The Bamburgh Castle Inn, and enjoy some drinks in the cosy bar which also looks over the sea.

Sunday morning

It’s just five minutes up the coast to the village of Bamburgh, where you can either head to the beach for a bracing morning walk or straight to the castle which sits above the windswept sands. Bamburgh has been home to many kings, from Henry VI to James I, and is stuffed full of fascinating artefacts and atmospheric rooms. You’ll find a collection of battle-scarred weapons in the armoury and a fascinating collection of heirlooms and gifts from famous guests in the state rooms.

Sunday Afternoon

Stock up on souvenirs from the independent shops and cafes in Bamburgh village and then drive up the coast towards the island of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island. You’ll need to check tide times before visiting as the island is cut off at high tide. Here you can see Lindisfarne Castle, the spooky ruins of Lindisfarne Priory, two beautiful gardens and the Lindisfarne Nature Reserve, with its picturesque dunes, mudflats and saltmarshes which are home to numerous sea birds, seals and unique orchids. Finally, toast your successful trip with a sample of the famous Lindisfarne Mead from St Aidan’s Winery.

The Holiday Insider's Club

This feature comes to you via the The Holiday Insider’s Club. Free to join, this all-female members’ club and travel concierge service empowers women to dream, plan and book amazing holidays that can’t be googled. Run by travel industry experts, The Holiday Insider’s Club  is a network of women sharing reviews and recommendations and offers unbiased advice, travel guides, itineraries, offers and discounts. Charitable Travel is the official partner of The Holiday Insider’s Club, meaning members can seamlessly book incredible holidays via the club – and of course give money to their favourite charity.

This is a feature from Issue 9 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.