Allen Banks and Staward Gorge
This extensive area of spectacular gorge and river scenery forms the largest area of ancient woodland in the county, with miles of waymarked walks to explore, red squirrels dormice, woodland birds and plants.Look out for the remains of a medieval pele tower and a reconstructed Victorian summerhouse. All sits within the North Pennines AONB.
Thomas Bewick, Northumberland’s greatest artist, wood engraver and naturalist, was born in the cottage here in1753. The nearby 19th-century farmhouse, the later home of the Bewick family, houses an exhibition on his life. Occasional printing demonstrations take place in the adjoining barn. There are splendid views over the Tyne Valley.
Discover the world of Lord Armstrong – Victorian inventor, innovator andlandscape genius. Cragside house was a wonder of its age. Built on a rocky crag, it is crammed full of ingenious gadgets and was the first house in the world to be lit by hydro-electricity.
The gardens are incredible. One of the largest rock gardens in Europe leads down to the Iron Bridge, which in turn leads across to the formal garden. Children will love the adventure play area and exploring Nelly’s Labryrinth, a network of paths and tunnels cut out of a vast area of rhododendron forest.
In the North Sea, off the Northumberland Coast between Bamburgh and Seahouses, lie the Farne Islands. These rocky islands were once home to saints, soldiers and famous lighthouse keepers – this is the location of Victorian heroine Grace Darling’s stormy sea rescue – but are now a sanctuary for birds and seals.
In summer there are more than 100,000 nesting pairs such as puffins and guillemots. The islands also boast one of Europe’s largest seal colonies. In the spring and summer months you can take a boat trip over from Seahouses and visit Inner Farne and Staple Islands.
Gibside is a Georgian ‘grand design’ on a spectacular scale; the vision of coal baron George Bowes, the Palladian chapel is an architectural masterpiece, the stable block is a vibrant learning and discovery centre, and the once grand hall is now a dramatic shell.
Gibside is also a haven for wildlife with red kites often circling in the skies above. After centuries of decline, Gibside is now being restored for people and nature. Escape along the avenue for miles of tranquil walks and picnic spots or enjoy family adventures at the woodland playscape and challenge trail. Food also runs through Gibside’s veins, whether in the bustling walled garden, tea-rooms, local farm shop or monthly farmers’ market.
Hadrian’s Wall & Housesteads Fort
Running through an often wild landscape with vast panoramic views, the wall was one of the Roman Empire’s most northerly outposts. Built around AD122, it has 16 permanent bases, of which Housesteads Fort is one of the best preserved, conjuring up an evocative picture of Roman military life. The fort is owned by the National Trust and maintained and managed by English Heritage.
Dramatically perched on a rocky crag and accessible via a three-mile causeway at low tide only, this island castle presents an exciting and alluring aspect. Originally a Tudor fort, it was converted into a private house in 1903 by the young Edwin Lutyens.
The small rooms are full of intimate decoration and design, with windows looking down over the charming walled garden planned by Gertrude Jekyll. The property also has several extremely well-preserved 19th-century lime kilns.
Please check tide times before driving over to Holy Island and leave yourself plenty of time to get back to the mainland safely before the tide comes in. The National Trust flag flies only when the castle is open.
The National Trust owns many miles of free to roam coast in Northumberland, including the grassy dunes of Druridge Bay where picnickers can take in the views of the sandy beach and sit among the wildflowers that pepper the ground, as well as the stretches around Craster and Embleton dominated by the spectacular ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle, and the picturesque village of Low Newton-by-the-Sea.
Seaton Delaval Hall
Seaton Delaval Hall, built between 1719 and 1732, is a great English baroque villa designed by Sir John Vanbrugh for Admiral George Delaval.
It has formal gardens with colourful borders and is much more than an architectural masterpiece. For 900 years, the estate has been a stage for drama, intrigue and romance, while the surrounding landscape has fuelled industrial revolution.
The hall has survived terrible fires, military occupation and potential ruin. It now provides an amazing space for arts, heritage and the community to come together.
Dating from 1688, Wallington was home to many generations of the Blackett and Trevelyan families, who all left their mark. The result is an impressive, yet friendly, house with a magnificent interior and fine collections.
The remarkable Pre-Raphaelite central hall was decorated to look like an Italian courtyard and features a series of paintings of Northumbrian history by William Bell Scott.
The formality of the house is offset by the tranquil beauty of the surrounding landscape – with lawns, lakes, parkland, woodland and red squirrels. The beautiful walled garden, with its varied plant collection and charming conservatory, is an enchanting must-see.