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Northumberland, God's Own Country

10 Posts

I was at Durham University in the 1960s and fell in love with the North East. Over the years, we have holidayed regularly in Tynedale. Each time we go back, it feels like going home. I love the wide open spaces and feel I can breathe again. It truly is God’s Own Country.

It is also one of England’s hidden secrets. Most people rush through on their way to Scotland. This is a shame as Northumberland has everything- from the Romans, early Christian Heritage, to the industrial revolution.

There are glorious empty beaches stretching for miles to the largest man made lake and man made forest in the country.

There is Lindisfarne, Holy Island, only approachable at low tide across a causeway over the sand and the Farne Islands of Grace Darling Fame.

Northumberland has huge defensive castles to deter the Scots and pele towers or bastles from the times of the Border Reivers. (It wasn’t called the debatable lands for nothing!). Fans of Harry Potter head for Alnwick Castle.

There are abbeys and delightful small churches, a handful of small market towns and many small villages.

The walking is some of the best in the country with the Hadrian’s Wall Footpath and the Pennine Way for starters.

Northumberland is a time well spent. Take it slowly and don’t rush. The Northumbrians are delightful and welcoming. You will leave feeling you have made many friends.


One of my favourite areas has to be Hadrian’s Wall. It has the lot with its history and dramatic scenery. To many people their visual image of Northumberland and the north is Hadrian’s Wall snaking across the countryside. Go and see for yourself.’s_Wall

For a map marking the main sites:

For those wanting to explore the wall on foot (much the best way) there is a national trail along the length of the wall. … p?PageId=1

Unless you specifically want to walk the whole length of the wall, limit yourself to the middle section between Housesteads and Walltown. This has the best remains, the best scenery and the best walking. It is the most rewarding part of the wall for visitors. For more detailed information about walking see the thread in the Walking & Cycling section here:

Further east, there is less of the wall left as it has been ‘robbed out’ and the stones used for building. Many old buildings will have Roman wall stones. Corbridge Church has a saxon tower with a Roman arch inside. … dge_08.jpg

Hexham Abbey also has many roman stones including sculpted ones.
Not Roman but equally significant is the Anglo Saxon Crypt reached by a step stair in the nave.

Best access to the wall is along B6318, which roller coasters across the landscape following the line of the wall. This is a very fast road and not suitable for walking along. You get good views of the wall, the ditch to the north and the vallum to the south. It is referred to as the ‘Military Road’, but it is NOT Roman. It is one of a series of roads built by General Wade across Britain after the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, when Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender, was defeated by the Army of King George. These roads were designed to let Hanoverian troops move quickly across the country if there was another invasion.

The Romans built their supply road to the south of the wall. This is called the "Stanegate" and can still be seen in places. Stanegate gave access to a series of supply forts to the south of the wall at Corbridge and Vindolanda. Both of these are worth visiting.

Corbridge is one of the less visited Roman forts with large, well preserved granaries. … ians-wall/
Corbridge itself is a charming village and, if you have time, it repays a visit.

Vindolanda was a fort on the Stanegate to the south of the wall which had a large civilian settlement outside.
This has been excavated over the last 40 years and has revealed a tremendous amount of information about the way of life. The soil is acid which means that textiles, leather and writing tablets have been preserved. Some of these can be seen in the museum, another worthwhile stop. A small section of the stone wall and the turf wall have been reconstructed on part of the site and make you realise just how impressive they must have been when built. It also illustrates the superiority of the stone wall.

The owners of Vindolanda also have a Roman Army Museum at Carvoran. This was the site of another fort on the wall. This includes a 3D film and hands on activities for the kids.

Sites along the Wall
Coming out of Newcastle, you will see small sections of wall just a few stones high that will give you a glimpse of what is to come. The two most popular sights are Chesters and Housesteads.

Chesters Roman Fort
Call in to look at the remains of the bath houses. The museum is old fashioned and a collection of stones.
The remains of the bridge abutment crossing the river are best seen from the side opposite to the fort. These are signed down a footpath from B6320 … bridge.htm

Housesteads Roman Fort
This is the place EVERYONE goes to visit, if only to see the latrines. … 000112.jpg
It is a marvellous setting on the hillside above the South Tyne Valley. Be warned it is a steep 10 minute walk up from the car park to the fort. … ians-wall/

There is excellent walking from the fort along the wall in both directions. Most people go west following the wall through the trees to the remains of a milecastle. You can continue west over Hotbank Crags to Hotbank and views of Crag Lough to Steel Rigg. To lose the crowds, go east to the top of Sewing Shields Crags, one of the legendary burial places of King Arthur. Make sure you know what to do if he wakes …

Bird Oswald Roman Fort … ians-wall/

Strictly speaking this shouldn’t be included as it is in Cumbria. However it seems logical to include it here. It is built on a splendid site high above the River Irthing. There is less to see than at Housesteads but it is worth visiting for the views. You can drop down and cross the river to see the remains of where the wall crossed the river.

Not strictly Roman, but Lanercost Priory is also an interesting place to visit. The church is still used and the ruins are nice to wander round. … st-priory/

This is very much scratching the surface. There is a lot more to the wall than the places I’ve mentioned and I am sure others will have their own favourites and happy memories of the wall.


For information about walking in the South Tyne, look here:

For information about walking in the North Tyne look here:


This is very impressive information – you should be working for the Tourist Board!

I wanted to let everyone else on the Forum know that our Guest Blogger invitation this month is, by happy coincidence, to review three beautiful inns in Northumberland, staying for one night at each with dinner bed and breakfast for two people. All we ask is that you write a review for our site in return about each property.

See here for more information Meet our guest bloggers



I have to agree. I spent holidays in Northumberland as a kid and loved it so much that when I grew up I chose it as my home!


I really don’t know how I missed this thread when first posted back in January this year, but it has inspired me to pay a visit to Northumberland next year, and hopefully I will be as enchanted with it as others appear to be…….

and hopefully I will be as enchanted with it as others appear to be…….

I do hope you are. Lets us know afterwards.


Inspired by the many references to Northumberland on the Forum (particularly the ones from Eleanor), we returned to have another short look at more that this county had to offer:

Northumberlandia: … ductReview

The Cheese Farm: … ductReview

Billy Shiels Boat Trips: … ductReview

Alnwick Castle: … ductReview

Essex UK

Sounds as if you had a good time Steve.


Loved it & can’t wait to go back. Thanks for all the comments on the reviews themselves.

Essex UK
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