Nestled in the heart of North East England, Northumberland is the northernmost county of the country, rendering engrossing history and scenic charm. It is laden with an expansive coastline, beautiful countryside, unique local traditions, and distinctive architecture.

This guide is designed to give you an overview of life in Northumberland, a county dotted with quaint market towns, ancient castles, beautiful beaches and hills. We'll explore its historical significance, famous landmarks, top activities, property market, and practical facets of living in the region, such as local transport and top-notch education.

History of Northumberland

The history of Northumberland is deep-rooted dating back to the Roman era. It was a significant part of the Roman Empire, with Hadrian's Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, constructed to safeguard the empire from the northern tribes. The region became a battleground during the Viking invasions and the Norman Conquest. It was steeped in warfare during the medieval period, leading to the construction of many prominent castles, which served as strongholds. It is also famous for its history coupled with Christianity, which began with the establishment of the holy island of Lindisfarne.


The breathtakingly beautiful highlands and coastline are dotted by significant landmarks that make Northumberland unique. The Hadrian's Wall is not only a historic but also a hiking paradise. The Alnwick Castle, famously recognised as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, is another major tourist attraction. Lastly, the Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, is a spiritual centre and a remarkable landmark known for its serenity and stunning landscapes.

Landmarks We Love

  • Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh: Dominating Northumberland's coastline, Bamburgh Castle is one of the finest castles in the country. Its fascinating history, stunning views and impressive architecture make it a must-visit site.
  • Cragside, Rothbury: Known as the first house to be lit by hydroelectric power, Cragside is a beautiful and historic estate surrounded by enchanting gardens.
  • Hexham Abbey, Hexham: It's a thriving church at the heart of Hexham, which dates back to the 7th Century. Its beautiful architecture and aura of tranquillity offer a calming retreat.
  • Dunstanburgh Castle, Alnwick: The striking ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle stand on a remote headland, providing captivating coastal views along the way.
  • Kielder Water and Forest Park, Kielder: This park is paradise for adventure lovers, offering plenty of outdoor activities like sailing, hiking and stargazing.

Top 10 Things to Do in Northumberland

  • Stargaze at Kielder Observatory, Kielder: As part of Europe's largest Dark Sky Park, the Kielder Observatory makes an excellent stargazing spot.
  • Step back in time at Beamish Museum, Stanley: An open-air museum that tells the story of life in North East England in the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s. Uncover the region's industrial history through excellent recreations and exhibitions.
  • Explore the sailing town of Amble: Often referred to as 'the friendliest port', Amble is a lively waterfront town teeming with independent shops, an impressive marina and a delightful long beach.
  • Take a Farne Islands boat tour: Home to a large bird colony and a colony of Atlantic seals, the Farne Islands are a wonderful place to visit for wildlife lovers.
  • Visit George Stephenson's Birthplace, Wylam: Uncover the story of George Stephenson, the 'Father of the Railways', in this charming 18th-century colliery cottage where he was born.
  • Explore Rothbury and Coquet Valley: This location is recognized by the serene river walks, Simonside Hills and Cragside estate making it an outdoor lover's paradise.
  • Take a Wellington Walk, Belford: A historic circular trail around the peaceful village of Belford, offering fascinating insight into the area's World War II history.
  • Wander around Barter Books, Alnwick: Housed in a converted railway station, Barter Books is one of the largest second-hand bookshops in Britain. It’s known for its endearing charm and massive collection.
  • Visit the Northumberland National Park: The park is a spot of untouched beauty, home to the tranquil River Coquet, vast moorlands, Greek-Roman archaeology at The Sill, and opportunities for hiking and cycling.
  • Walk along Druridge Bay: It’s a majestic seven-mile stretch of sand located between Amble and Cresswell and is a delightful place for a stroll. The bay is a haven for a rich variety of wildlife.

Our Recommended Areas to Live in Northumberland

  • Morpeth: Known as the gateway to Northumberland, Morpeth is a historic market town steeped in history offering excellent schools, shopping, dining and entertainment options. From strolls in Carlisle Park to shopping at Sanderson Arcade, it offers all the amenities for a comfortable lifestyle with excellent transport links to Newcastle Upon Tyne.
  • Hexham: A charming market town, Hexham is characterized by its beautiful Hexham Abbey, offerings of quaint shops, cafés and the Queens Hall Arts Centre. It has a good selection of schools and swift transport routes to Newcastle and Carlisle.
  • Alnwick: Rich in history, home to the iconic Alnwick Castle, The Alnwick Garden and the bustling Alnwick Market, it offers a blend of historic wonders and modern amenities. There is a good choice of schools, health services and variety of shops and restaurants to explore.
  • Amble: Dubbed as the friendliest port, Amble is a thriving coastal town popularly known for its high street filled with eclectic shops, array of eateries and harbour. It’s an idyllic area perfectly suited for those who love waterside living, and offers good local schools and leisure options too.
  • Bamburgh: Home to the majestic Bamburgh Castle and a glorious beach, this area offers serene country living with incredible sea views. The village features excellent restaurants, and provides close proximity to Lindisfarne and Farne Islands. It’s perfect for those seeking tranquillity and walkers’ paradise.

Best Schools in Northumberland

Education in Northumberland is held to high standards, renowned for maintaining high quality throughout its primary, secondary, and further education establishments. For primary education, schools such as Morpeth All Saints CofE Aided First School, Hexham's Sele First School, and Hipsburn Primary School, near Alnwick, consistently get high ratings. For secondary education, The Duchess's Community High School in Alnwick and Queen Elizabeth High School in Hexham hold a strong reputation. For further education, Northumberland College provides an extensive range of vocational and professional courses. Additionally, the county is within easy reach of esteemed higher education institutions like Durham University and Newcastle University.

Transport Links in Northumberland

Northumberland boasts of an efficient transport network. The A1 and the A69 are the two main roads running through the county, both providing swift connections to major cities like Newcastle and Carlisle. The county is served by the Tyne and Wear Metro system, connecting it with Newcastle, Sunderland and the surrounding area. The region is catered by Northern and CrossCountry trains too. For air travel, Newcastle Airport is just a short drive away making national and international travel convenient. Local bus and coach services offer comprehensive coverage of the area, while bicycle enthusiasts will enjoy the various cycling routes.

In conclusion, Northumberland is a county that strikes a perfect balance between sprawling landscapes and modern conveniences. Its rich history, iconic landmarks, exciting recreational activities, excellent education system, thriving property market and efficient transport links make it an excellent place to live. Life in Northumberland is less hurried, where one can enjoy tranquil countryside living, panoramic vistas, and a strong sense of community. Whether it's the hustle and bustle of market towns like Morpeth and Alnwick, or the serene charm of coastal towns like Bamburgh and Amble, every corner of Northumberland offers something special, making it a beloved region for residents and visitors alike.

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