Things to Do With Your Kids in Northumberland

There are some great family-friendly great days out that await you during your holiday in Northumberland, guaranteed to be something for everyone to enjoy! Visit magnificent historic castles, walk in the footsteps of the Romans on Hadrian’s Wall, have ‘splash-tastic’ fun in the surf on one of Northumberland’s award-winning beaches or step aboard a sailboat to visit the Farne Islands for a wildlife adventure like no other. You can also stride out in the countryside and reach new heights by climbing the Cheviot Hills or for night owls, stargaze in the Northumberland National Park – the list is endless; the biggest problem you will face on holiday is trying to decide what to do first!

We have listed a few suggestions below for great days out.

Miles and Miles of Sandy Beaches

With over 30 miles of beautiful sandy beaches, your family can enjoy hours of endless fun. Cycle or walk some of the 69 miles of scenic coastal path stopping off for delicious ice cream along the way in one of the many seaside villages and towns. A more relaxing day can be spent enjoying a picnic on the beach, flying a kite and a paddle in the sea.

The more adventurous family members may enjoy learning how to ride the waves surfing or stand up paddle boarding. Northside Surf School is one of a few excellent schools that provide water sport lessons across all areas of Northumberland. Younger kids will love rock pooling, so don’t forget to pack a fishing net for your day at the beach, along with a beach ball and a bucket and spade for essential sand castle building.

Explore further out to sea, by a visit to one of the islands off the Northumberland Coast including: Holy Island, Coquet Island and the Farne Islands.

Boat Trip to the Farne Islands from Seahouses

If your family enjoys seeing wildlife in its natural environment, then a boat ride to the Farne Islands is a must. Regular boat trips can be booked from Seahouses harbour. Around the rocky islands, you can see thousands of colourful Puffins and grey seals as well as many other seabirds in their natural habitat. Some boats can also land on the Inner Farne, where you can enjoy a wildlife walk around the small island, spotting nesting seabirds all around you. You may also see some seals resting on the sandy shores of the island. Visit St. Cuthbert’s Chapel, see the Pele Tower and step inside the Visitor Centre to learn more about the great work that is done to protect the wildlife on this important nature reserve.  

Back on the boat, look out for Longstone Lighthouse, the former home of the Victorian heroine, Grace Darling who bravely rescued the lives of stranded survivors of the wrecked steamship -  the Forfarshire.

Once back on dry land, just opposite Seahouses harbour, is ‘The Bunker’, which has a fantastic outdoor ‘Northumberland-themed’ 18-hole crazy golf course. To finish off a perfect day at the seaside, visit one of the traditional fish restaurants in Seahouses and enjoy some delicious fish and chips before returning to your holiday cottage.

Castles, Castles  and more Castles…

Northumberland is home to over 70 castles, so there is lots of history to be explored. All of Northumberland’s castles are child-friendly with lots of interesting interactive experiences to be enjoyed from battle reenactments to dressing up as a Knight and in the case of Alnwick Castle – learn to fly on a broomstick, just like Harry Potter.

Explore some of the most popular family-friendly castles such as Bamburgh Castle, Alnwick Castle, Lindisfarne Castle on the remote island of Lindisfarne, Dunstanburgh Castle, Belsay Castle, Warkworth Castle and Britain’s most haunted – Chillingham Castle where ‘chilling’ adventures await the brave!

Alnwick Adventures Await

Alnwick is filled with lots of magical treats for all the family.  From the cobbled streets in the vibrant market town, you can browse the many interesting independent shops including a great chocolate shop which is sure to be popular with all chocolate lovers.

There is also a quirky second hand book shop – Barter Books which is one of Europe’s largest.  Set in an old Victorian Railway Station and home to a model railway that runs in a loop over the top of the bookcases. There is a great children’s section where little ones will love picking their holiday read! Once you have found your book, cosy up to the lovely warming fire in the café and start your reading adventure with a drink and a slice of cake!

No trip to Alnwick would be complete without a visit to the magnificent Alnwick Castle. The magical ‘home of the Hogwarts’ and also the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. There is lots of magic that awaits from broomstick training, Dragons Quest adventures, wand making, hill rolling, or be transformed into a noble prince or a brave princess (adults included!)

The Alnwick Garden is right next to the castle and is particularly enjoyable on a sunny day as there are lots of interactive water features and even a huge water fountain that children can stand under and wait until the water cascades down over them (spare change of clothes recommended!)

Explore the poison garden, little ones can have fun on the mini tractors and try scooping and catching the water as it falls at the bottom of the water cascade. Get lost in the bamboo labyrinth and try to reach the centre before other members of your family. Enjoy the fragrant smells in the rose garden and swing away on the banks of the cherry orchard which overlook the lake, where a rather large giant lies! There is also a crazy golf course, mouth-watering cafes, gift shop and one of the world’s largest treehouses to discover with wobbly bridges to walk over.

Northumberland National Park

Explore the beautiful Northumberland National Park. Kids will love playing by the rivers and streams, looking for ancient fossils, fishing or simply enjoying a paddle in the clear flowing waters set in the idyllic countryside. There are lots of great picnic spots where you can relax and have quality time together as a family.

With plenty of woodlands and nature reserves to visit in the National Park, there are some great nature trails with plenty of fascinating wildlife to spot from a variety of birds including Ospreys; water voles red squirrels, hares, deer and wild goats. Go wild at Kielder Water and Forest Park and explore Northern Europe’s largest man-made lake and largest working forest in England. There is lots of activities for families to enjoy from: water sports, cycling, mountain biking, horse-riding to fishing.

The Northumberland National Park is also home to Hadrian’s Wall which stretches for 73 miles. Kids will love walking or cycling along this famous landmark and learning all about the life of a Roman Soldier as well visiting the many museums such as The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre and Vindolanda.  See close up some of the many exciting Roman artefacts that have been found on these sites including coins, pottery, jewellery and shoes. Dress up as a Roman Soldier and go into a battle with your sword and shield in hand. You may also be able to join in an archaeological dig and find buried treasure of your own!

When night falls a new adventure awaits! Go stargazing in Northumberland’s Dark Sky Park and experience the largest area of protected dark skies in the UK. There are lots of stargazing events you can attend with your family including those at the renowned Kielder Observatory which offers daily events – experience the night sky like never before!

Heatherslaw Light Railway

This 15-inch gauge railway sets off from Heatherslaw in the Ford and Etal Estate which is near Wooler. It makes a four-mile round trip through the Northumberland countryside with views of the River Till on one side and open fields with sheep and cattle grazing on the other side of the train. The steam train will take you to the village of Etal where you can visit the English Heritage’s Etal Castle and explore the ruins before heading into the picturesque village to enjoy a refreshing drink and slice of cake at the lovely Lavender Tearooms. Explore a working corn mill, walk the Flodden battlefield or enjoy a family cycle ride through the beautiful Ford and Etal estate.

Cragside House, Gardens and Estate

Budding engineers will love visiting Cragside in Rothbury. Now owned by The National Trust, this grand home was formerly owned by Victorian inventor Lord Armstrong. It was the first building in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. There are lots of fun interactive exhibitions inside the house including a Young Engineer’s zone. Outside, the fun doesn’t stop as there are 30 miles of trails to explore leading through a landscape of lakes, riversides and woodlands. Kids will particularly love getting their feet messy on the barefoot walk, letting off steam in the adventure play area, getting lost in the labyrinth, building a den in the woods and swinging across the monkey bars on the trim trail. In the summer months at weekends, watersports can also be enjoyed at Cragside including: kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding. (pre-booking is advisable).