You can't go far in Northumberland without coming across one of the county's stunning castles, you really are spoiled for choice! The dramatic view of Bamburgh Castle from the beach is shown above. Bamburgh is the home of the legend of Grace Darling and a museum has been built by the RNLI in her honour. Other Castles nearby include:
Alnwick Castle is one of the most beautiful Castles in the UK and It's a great day out for the entire family. They offer tours that reveal the history of the Castle from Harry Hotspur to Harry Potter! The Castle has also been used in films such as Elizabeth and even TV comedy Blackadder. The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland still live in the Castle as their family has for hundreds of years. They offer an exciting calendar of activities and events including hands-on workshops, theatrical falconry magic and re-enactments.
Warkworth Castle is an English Heritage site and is located in the charming village of Warkworth, just a few miles from the Cottage. Once home to the powerful Percy family who now reside in Alnwick Castle, Warkworth was and remains one of the largest and most impressive fortresses in North East England. It was once home to 'Harry Hotspur', hero of many Border ballads and the bane of Scots raiders. The village of Warkworth is also well worth exploring with it's charming cafes, gift shops and country style pubs.
Lindisfarne Castle is dramatically perched on a rocky crag and only accessible at low tide via a three mile causeway to Holy Island. 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 upon the charming walled garden planned by Gertrude Jekyll.
The island of Holy Island itself was chosen by Saint Aiden in 635AD as the place to found his monestary and was used to spread the Christian message throughout the world. This has not only made Holy Island a centre of pilgrimage but it's tranquillity, spirituality and scenic beauty attracts a multitude of visitors to it's shores every year. Northumberland County Council publishes safe crossing times to Holy Island.
If the crossing times don't quite match when you arrive at the causeway we can highly recommend The Barn at Beal for it's coffee shop and restaurant. It has spectacular views of Holy Island, serves good local food and has an owl sanctuary and a gift shop.
Dunstanburgh Castle is a National Trust property and one of the most photographed ruins in the country and i'm sure you can appreciate why. The Castle is accessed via Craster, a small fishing village famous for it's Kippers. If you want to visit the Castle please be aware that it is only accessible by foot from Craster, so it is not suitable for the less mobile. However, it was named one of the UK's top ten coastal walks by the Guardian newspaper who said:
"The seacliffs are excellent and the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle summon up every possible image of Macbeth, Richard the Lionheart and all those other mighty chaps. Find particularly interesting birdlife on the cliffs and at Newton beach and Newton Pool nature reserve"
Cragside House and Gardens, whilst not strictly a Castle it is well worth a visit for it's unique place in History. This National Trust property was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. The revolutionary home of Lord Armstrong, Victorian inventor and landscape genius, was a wonder of it's age. Built on a rocky crag high above the Debdon Burn, Cragside is crammed with ingenious gadgets and surrounded on all sides by one of the largest rock gardens in Europe. The lakeside walks, adventure play area and labyrinth are all good reasons for children to visit Cragside again and again.
Cragside gardens are at their most spectacular in late spring when literally tens of thousands of rhododendrons are in full bloom.
These are our favourite Castles to visit and I would recommend them as a good starting place for visitors new to the area. However, there are plenty of other exciting places to visit, including: Ford Castle, Etal Castle, Chillingham Castle, Wallington Hall, Belsay Hall and Gardens, Howick Hall and Gardens, Hadrian's Wall....
The list goes on, and that doesn't even cover historic sites and other places of interest! You will never be short of an exciting place to visit while you're in Northumberland and you certainly won't be able to explore them all in one visit. You'll find information about all these places and how to get there in our 'Things to do' guide in the Cottage.
For everything you need to know to plan your trip including Town Guides, interactive visitor maps, events and things to do, visit our sister site Your Northumberland Guide.