Local Attractions
Alnwick Castle and Garden (7 miles)

Alnwick Castle, home of the Duke of Northumberland, is a magnificent building, with sumptuous interiors that belie its fearsome appearance. It is the second largest occupied castle in Britain, after Windsor.


The earliest sections of the castle were built in the 11th century, although it has been added to on many occasions over the years. As with all Northumbrian castles, its history involves many conflicts, with the Scots and the Border Rievers, and during the Wars of the Roses.


In recent times Alnwick Castle, with its archetypal appearance, has been used as a backdrop for many films and TV series. These include the first Harry Potter film, as well as Blackadder, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and many others.


In contrast to the castle, the Alnwick Garden is a very recent addition. Although there have been gardens at Alnwick Castle for hundreds of years, the current garden is the brainchild of the current Duchess of Northumberland. Many millions of pounds have been spent creating the most lavish formal garden constructed in Britain since the Second World War, featuring dramatic water cascades, a maze, a poison garden, a traditional walled garden, and a rose garden. The gardens also boast an extraordinary tree house, one of the biggest in the world. The treehouse hosts an excellent restaurant as well as a more informal cafe.

 

 
Farne Islands (9 miles)

The Farne Islands, less formally known as "the Farnes", are a group of islands off the Northumberland coast. There are between 15 and 20 or more islands depending on the state of the tide. The Farnes are best known for their wildlife, particular the population of nesting birds. Puffins are one of major attractions, with some 50,000 nesting birds at the right time of year. The Farnes also have a large population of grey seals.

 

One of the great attractions of the Farne Islands is the story of Grace Darling and the wreck of the Forfarshire. Grace Darling was the daughter of Longstone lighthouse-keeper, William Darling, and on September 7, 1838, at the age of 22 years, she and her father rescued nine people in a strong gale and thick fog from the wreck of the Forfarshire, which had run aground on Harker rock. The story of the rescue attracted extraordinary attention throughout Britain and made Grace Darling a heroine who has gone down in British folklore. You will find a museum devoted to Grace Darling in Bamburgh.

 

The Farne Islands are accessible only by boat from the local fishing village of Seahouses, which has a number of attractions for children, including amusement arcades and a crazy golf course.

 
Bamburgh Castle (10 miles)

Bamburgh Castle is one of the most imposing castles in the country, perched on its rocky outcrop and dominating the village it overlooks. However it has not always been the magnificent building you now see. In the 18th and 19th centuries it fell into disrepair (in Seaview Cottage you can see a 19th century drawing of the castle as a ruin), but was restored by the industrialist Lord Armstrong in the late 19th century.


The castle still belongs to the Armstrong family, but is open to the public. Like Alnwick Castle, it has been in considerable demand as a film set, featuring in films such as  Mary, Queen of Scots (1972), and Elizabeth (1998).

 
Warkworth Castle (12 miles)

Unlike the castles at Alnwick and Bamburgh, Warkworth Castle is a ruin, but a well-preserved one and well worth a visit, particularly on a bright, dry day! Its history dates back to the 11th century, and for several centuries it was a family home for the Percy family. Much of the castle that you now see was built in the 16th century, although it was refurbished in the 19th century. As you stand in the particularly well preserved keep, it's easy to imagine how splendid the castle must have been in its heyday.

 

Warkworth Castle is owned and maintained by English Heritage.

 
Lindisfarne Island (27 miles)

Lindisfarne, also known as "Holy Island", is an island off the north-east coast of Northumberland. It has a fascinating history. The monastery of Lindisfarne was founded by Saint Aidan, who had been sent from Iona off the west coast of Scotland to Northumbria at the request of King Oswald, back in the 7th century AD. The monastery became the base for Christian evangelising in the North of England, with monks from the community of Iona settling on the island. Northumberland's patron saint, Saint Cuthbert, was a monk and later Abbot of the monastery.


Lindisfarne Castle is also fascinating. Unlike other Northumbrian castles, it is built on a much smaller scale. The original castle dates back to the 16th century, but it was much altered by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1901, and has a cosy, lived-in feel. It is now managed by the National Trust. If you visit the castle, do take the short walk to the walled castle garden, which was designed by Lutyens' long-time friend and collaborator, Gertrude Jekyll, between 1906 and 1912.


Lindisfarne is accessible by causeway, and is cut off at high tide. So do check the tide tables before planning your visit.

 

Other local attractions:

  • Howick Hall Gardens (4 miles): A superb garden just a few miles from Embleton. Howick Hall was the family home of Earl Grey, and unsurprisingly the tearoom serves excellent Earl Grey tea!
  • Cragside (18 miles): One of the National Trust's finest properties, a magnificent country house which was the country home of Lord Armstrong, and was the first house in the world to be powered by hydro electricity.
  • Barter Books (7 miles): One of the largest second-hand bookshops in Britain.