Scattered a couple of miles off the coast near Seahouses, this cluster of islands was declared by broadcaster Sir David Attenborough as his favourite place in the UK to see nature at its best. The Farne Islands have also featured in ITV’s Robson Green’s 2013 series “Tales of Northumberland”.

During summertime around 150,000 breeding pairs of seabirds cram onto the islands. Around 23 different varieties of birds can be spotted here, including razorbills, guillemots, eider ducks and colourful puffinsare just some of the varieties that flock here.

Look out for the island’s colony of grey or Atlantic seals hauled up on the rocks or bobbing inquisitively in the sea. The islands have the largest breeding colony in England with some 1,000 pups born here each autumn.

Land on Inner Farne, Staple Island, and Longstone when the islands open in spring until autumn time. If seeing the seabird spectacle is your goal, plan your visit between mid April and late July to see the largest number of birds. Fluffy white seal pups can be seen on the islands from late October.

Boarding the National Trust owned islands takes you right among the nesting birds – which can get closer than you might expect.  Arctic terns protecting their nest sites swoop and dive-bomb unsuspecting visitors, so be sure to wear a hat to protect your head.

Take a boat ride to the islands from Seahouses with Serenity Farne Island Boat Tours, where gaily-painted booking kiosks line the harbour. Boats run daily in the summer months and at weekends and school holidays throughout the year, weather permitting.
The islands have strong links with Celtic Christianity and St Cuthbert, who lived on the islands as a hermit in the 7th century. 
The island’s other famous resident was young Victorian heroine Grace Darling who with her father William, the keeper of Longstone Lighthouse, set out in their small open coble boat to rescue survivors of the stricken paddle steamer SS Forfarshire which had struck Big Harcar rock in 1838. Grace, aged just 22 years old was hailed a national heroine. 

Follow in Grace’s footsteps and experience lighthouse living with a boat trip to Longstone Lighthouse.



Skim over the sands and causeway to Holy Island and prepare to enter another world. Lying just a few miles off the Northumberland coast, Holy Island as seen on Robson Green’s Tales from Northumberland is cut off twice-daily from the rest of the world by fast-moving tides. Both an island and a picturesque village, Holy Island carries a wealth of history within its tidal walls.

See one of the region’s most revered treasures Lindisfarne Priory.  The epicentre of Christianity in Anglo Saxon times, Lindisfarne Priory was once the home of St Oswald. This serene setting was the birthplace of the Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the world’s most precious books.

Ransacked by marauding Viking raiders in the 8th century, the evocative ruins of Lindisfarne Priory includes the famous ‘rainbow bridge’ which spirals skywards with the ghost of a long-vanished tower.

Holy Island remains a place of pilgrimage today. The island is the final destination of long distance walking route and one of Scotland’s Great Trails, the St Cuthbert’s Way.

Rising from the sheer rock face at the tip of the island is Lindisfarne Castle. Built to defend a harbour sheltering English ships during skirmishes with Scotland, the castle caught the eye of Edward Hudson, founder of Country Life magazine.

Celebrated architect Edward Lutyens gave the castle a luxurious makeover turning it into a comfortable but quirky holiday home. Explore the castle’s rooms today, which remain largely unchanged.

Aside its historical pedigree, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne has an exciting array of wildlife. Its island status protects tidal mudflats, saltmarshes and dunes which together form the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve.  Rare plants and an abundance of food supplies attract visiting birds from thousands of miles.

Autumn is the best time to look out for internationally important species of wildfowl and wading birds that overwinter on the reserve.
Spot pale-bellied brent geese flying in from Svalbard (Spitsbergen), pink footed and greylag geese, wigeon, grey plovers and bar-tailed godwits are just some of the island’s other visitors. Grey seals bob in the waters here and can be spotted sunning themselves on the sands, joined by the occasional common seal.

A word of caution: Be sure to check for safe crossing times on the causeway’s notice board before journeying to Holy Island. Berwick Tourist Information Centre has full details of both the tides and bus service to the island.




Feel the sand beneath your feet and the refreshing sea breeze in your hair with a visit to Northumberland’s magnificent coastline.

With more than 30 miles of beaches the Northumberland Coast is simply spectacular.  Promenade along piers, play at penny arcades and tuck into fish and chips whilst enjoying the sea view at retro-chic seaside towns such as Seahouses. Visit Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, a seaside village making artistic waves with The Couples, Britain’s first permanent coastal sculpture.  Discover picturesque fishing communities, clustered around sandy coves, like Newton-by-the-Sea.

Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England.  Many of these castles, including Warkworth, Dunstanburgh, Bamburgh and Lindisfarne, stand guard along our dramatic coast.

Drive across the causeway to the unique Holy Island of Lindisfarne, the birthplace of the magnificent Lindisfarne Gospels. At the Lindisfane Centre you can turn virtual pages of a facsimile version of the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Northumberland’s coast is a giant adventure park where you can enjoy adrenaline-pumping sports like coasteering, kite and wind surfing. Or just relax with a deckchair while the children build sandcastles and go rock pooling.

Channel your inner David Attenborough with a visit to one of Northumberland’s amazing coastal nature reserves like the Farne Islands, Coquet Island and Druridge Bay.

Inland, head to the medieval market town of Alnwick, with its castle, celebrated garden and vintage shops.  A visit to Howick Hall and Garden, the home of Earl Grey tea, is highly recommended for garden and tea lovers alike.

Northumberland’s most northern area offers some thrilling history, with the Berwick Walls and ancient battlegrounds. Berwick-upon-Tweed has a rich culture, and inland you’ll find rolling hills and beautiful villages.

Tap into a rich seam of history and celebrate Northumberland’s mining heritage at the award-winning Woodhorn Museum.



Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in the country; home to the Duke of Northumberland’s family, the Percys, for over 700 years.

Combining magnificent medieval architecture with sumptuous Italianate State Rooms, Alnwick Castle is one of the UK’s most significant heritage destinations and best days out in Northumberland.

The castle’s rich history is brimming with drama, intrigue, and extraordinary people; from a gunpowder plotter and visionary collectors, to decadent hosts and medieval England’s most celebrated knight: Harry Hotspur.

In recent years it has also taken starring roles in a number of film and television productions, featuring as the magnificent Brancaster Castle in Downton Abbey’s 2014 and 2015 Christmas specials and previously appearing as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter films.




The Alnwick Garden is one of the world’s most ambitious new gardens. The Duchess of Northumberland’s vision for a forgotten plot is now a truly 21st century experience full of imagination, inspiration and fun. Designed by Jacques and Peter Wirtz, The Garden is a wonderful combination of spaces, themes, quirkiness and play.

From the tranquility of the Cherry Orchard, the excitement of the Grand Cascade and the mysteries of the Bamboo Labyrinth, to the Serpent Garden’s spell-binding water sculptures, the intrigue of the Poison Garden and one of the world’s largest tree houses – there is plenty to surprise and delight.

The Garden is a space designed to be enjoyed by all your senses, with a collection of over 4,000 plant varieties to discover, thousands of seasonal blooms and countless opportunities to get wet and play in The Garden’s water sculptures.




Chesters Roman Fort is the most complete Roman cavalry fort in Britain – wander around the unusually well-preserved baths and steam room, and the officers’ quarters. Discover an amazing collection of Roman objects and inscriptions in the Clayton Museum, re-launched in 2016.

Whilst relaxing in English Heritage’s most tranquil Fort, taste the Tearoom treats inside Chesters Tearoom.

A family trail, ‘Chesters Takeover’ will catapult you back in time. Become a Commander, Musician, Trooper or Messenger as you explore the Fort, picturesquely located by the North Tyne river.

Each year, Chesters hosts a range of lively events aimed at bringing the story of the Fort to life.



Set high on a dramatic escarpment on Hadrian’s Wall, a World Heritage Site,  Housesteads Roman Fort (English Heritage) takes you back to the Roman Empire.

Wander the barrack blocks and the hospital. Peer into the ancient communal Roman toilets and admire the stunning panoramic views from this ancient fortress.

The interactive museum managed by English Heritage showcases objects once belonging to Roman soldiers, and the mini-cinema will take you on a journey through time.

Younger visitors can meet Felix, a character of the Fort who will guide them around the Museum – quite an insight into life 2,000 years ago.

Housesteads Visitor Centre (National Trust) adjacent to the car park provides a warm visitor welcome, orientation and facilities. Outside you can find a large 3D map detailing the scale of the Fort and the surrounding Whin Sill escarpment, and a glazed seating area perfect to enjoy refreshments on a sunny day.

Admission to Housesteads Roman Fort is free for English Heritage and National Trust members. Parking charges apply. The car park is managed by Northumberland National Park.



At Corbridge Roman Town, an audio guide brings the story of the town to life and the modern museum has a fascinating array of finds. Writing tablets found at Vindolanda show that troops from Vindolanda were stationed here at times, or came here on leave.  Walk along the main street of this Roman garrison town, flanked by the remains of granaries, a fountain house, markets, workshops and temples. Corbridge was the most northerly town in the Roman Empire and one of only two on Hadrian’s Wall, the other being at Carlisle.

The most famous finds include a hoard of Roman armour and other equipment and the stone Corbridge Lion whose image is used to guide children on a trail round the museum. The open space of the former forum is used for events during the summer.

The site is managed by English Heritage. Light refreshments, books and souvenirs are available at the visitor centre.