Lobster pots, small boats and a distant castle on a hill
England,  Landscape,  Lens-Artists,  Travel galleries

Gallery: an ode to beautiful Northumberland (shhh!)

Are there places you know and love which you hesitate to tell others about, because you are tempted to keep them to yourself? Places relatively unknown that you fear might become spoiled if discovered by too many? And yet, they are so lovely you can’t resist singing their praises!

Such a place, for me, is England’s northernmost county, Northumberland. Visitors looking for beautiful scenery here flock to the Cotswolds, the Lake District or to Devon and Cornwall. Those in search of our history look to London, Stonehenge, Oxford and Cambridge, or maybe Stratford on Avon. But if you seek both, Northumberland is the place to go.

It has a stunning coastline dotted with ancient castles, while inland is home to wild moorland, dark skies and of course to Hadrian’s Wall, the one-time edge of the Roman Empire.

For Tina’s Lens Artists ‘Home Sweet Home’ challenge I want to show you some of my favourite sights there. I hope you love the look of them. But please don’t visit, I wouldn’t want them to get too crowded lol!

View of a lake with small boats
Kielder Water

Kielder is the largest artificial lake in the UK, surrounded by England’s largest forest. This is a Dark Sky Park, with an impressive observatory that hosts nightly star-gazing events.

Clumps of heather and large boulders
Lordenshaws Hill Fort

On the moors above the small town of Rothbury you can still see the remains of an Iron Age hillfort built 2,000 years ago.

Rocky escarpment with the line of a wall climbing the slope
Steel Rigg

This is one of the best places to see Hadrian’s Wall. The wall once marked the border between Roman Britannia and the unconquered lands to the north, making it the furthest outpost of the Roman Empire.

Low stone walls outlining former buildings
Housesteads Fort

Housesteads is one of the most impressive of the ruined Roman forts on Hadrian’s Wall. You can see the wall stretching away into the distance on the right.

Castle with foreground of daffodils
Alnwick Castle

This is a still-inhabited castle, the seat of the 12th Duke of Northumberland. It’s now best known as a filming location for Harry Potter, Downton Abbey and others.

Wall of a ruined castle on a hill
Warkworth Castle

For contrast, Warkworth is a ruined medieval castle. It dominates the small village of the same name, one of my favourites in Northumberland.

Water with small boats and castle in the distance
Warkworth Castle from Amble

Warkworth is just a mile from the coast and there are great views of the castle from the fishing village of Amble.

Small red boat in an inlet by dunes

Amble has an attractive harbour offering boat trips, seafood eateries, and pastel-painted beach huts.

Beach with castle on a ridge beyond
Bamburgh Castle from the beach

Bamburgh is much restored and still occasionally in use by the owning Armstrong family, descendents of the Victorian era industrialist William Armstrong.

Ruins of an abbey with sheep grazing
Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island

Lindisfarne Priory was founded by St Aidan and was one of the most important centres of early Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England. Its ruins stand on Holy Island, connected to the mainland by a causeway that is covered at high tide (my featured photo is also of Holy Island). This is my favourite place in the county!

White lighthouse on an island
The Farne Islands

This group of islands lies off the Northumberland coast and can be visited on boat trips from Seahouses. They are home to important breeding colonies of seabirds and grey seals.

Ruins of a castle in the mist
Dunstanburgh Castle in the mist

The weather may not always be wonderful, but there is always somewhere interesting to visit. Dunstanburgh is an impressive ruin on a headland a short walk from the fishing village of Craster.

PS. I will return to my recent Nepal trip for subsequent posts, but that can hardly be called my ‘home sweet home’. And no doubt many of you were ready for a change of scene!

I visit Northumberland frequently; these photos were taken between 2012 and 2020


  • Annie Berger

    Clearly Steven and I spent far too little time exploring Northumberland, Sarah, when we hiked along part of Hadrian’s Wall. You’ve certainly opened my eyes to the county’s ample charms!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      The countryside around the Wall is spectacular but the county has a lot more to offer too, especially along the coast and up in the Cheviot Hills 😮 You must come back one day and we’ll show you some favourite spots!

  • wetanddustyroads

    My answer to your question: Yes, there are a couple of places here in SA (especially the wild camping spots) that we’re hesitant to share … but some of them are just so beautiful that it’s hard not to! And, looking at your photos, Northumberland is definitely a (hidden) gem! Love the lake, the castles and ruins. Enjoyed your photos (and promise, I won’t visit – soon)!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Ah, but your special places are hard to reach – Northumberland is just six hours drive from London! Glad you loved it, and I promise to let you in if you decide to visit 😀

  • Leya

    A wonderful tour, Sarah! So many lovely castles and your photography is excellent as usual – this could make a calender…but you would not want THAT many people to know! I love your opener very much, and Lindisfarne – we were there once in the 70s. Beautiful . Still and always. History that involves us northeners as well. I’d love to visit again, even though I remember how much rain we had – and camping. But so many years after, the good memories remain!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Ann Christine 🙂 Yes, the history of this region is closely linked to Scandinavia. I’m glad you enjoyed visiting although it’s a shame about the rain. It can be cooler here than further south in England but it’s not especially wet – the north west is far more so. You must have been unlucky.

  • Amy

    Thank you for the fabulous tour of Northumberland, Sarah. Beautiful photos and rich history! Love the landscape and beaches, excellent selections!

  • Heyjude

    No secret to me Sarah, I have been to most of these places and loved them all. We actually stayed in the North Pennines though near Alston which claims to be the highest market settlement in England. We had a great holiday exploring the countryside around us and a trip up the Northumberland coast. So much so it was on our list of places to retire to! Your feature photo is a beauty, I really like how you have framed the castle with those lobster pots.

  • Wind Kisses

    Your first photo of Holy Island is stunning, and your leading quote speaks truth. That said…this is now on my list bucket list, and I promise to sneak in unannounced and love it with quiet respect. That Alnwick Castle is still-inhabited is interesting beyond having its location as a filming location. I love Bamburgh sitting above the shoreline and my favorite photo is Lindisfarne Priory with the sheep.

    Always an impressive lesson in history with your photos Sarah. Very nice.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I’ll let you in quietly for sure Donna, as I know you’ll love and respect it. Holy Island in particular is a must so I’m happy you especially liked those two shots 🙂

  • thehungrytravellers.blog

    Very well sold! Michaela’s brother now lives in Northumberland and we absolutely loved their new home and area on our one visit so far – they live in the countryside near Corbridge. My personal “it’s mine don’t tell too many people” is, inevitably, the Derbyshire Dales…not the ones that half of Sheffield rushes to at weekends but those lesser known ones which “we” keep for ourselves!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Maybe all of us have got such places? I’m glad you’re learning to love Northumberland. Corbridge is in such a pretty area too, handy for the Wall and Tyne Valley 🙂

  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    Bravo, Sarah! I loved this post, but I can’t say that I won’t ever visit because Northumberland is so beautiful that I wouldn’t want to pass it by. My “England” to do list is getting longer and longer.

  • Anne Sandler

    Thank you Sarah for taking me to this beautiful, and more obscure, part of England. I guess you let the secret out now! Your images are stunning. Alnwick Castle with the flowers in the foreground is beautiful. And the Roman wall is certainly historical.

  • Tina Schell

    I am so happy to see your images of your home country Sarah. I know how widely-traveled you are but often we pay less attention to the beauty closer to home. These are stunning from start to finish, every bit as amazing as your travel photos, which is really saying something! Loved every image which makes one want to pack a suitcase and head there tomorrow! Beautifully said and shown.

  • Alli Templeton

    Hi Sarah, I’m just beginning to emerge from the dust, chaos and general fug of the big move to be able to do a little more blogging on the run-up to the festive season, and was delighted to see your Ode to Northumberland! Truly wonderful photos that certainly do justice to the place, and bring back so many lovely memories for us as a family. As you can probably guess, Northumberland is my favourite county too, and I couldn’t agree more that it’s perfect for both amazing scenery and history. In fact, we’re looking forward to going back next summer for our annual holiday, so will hopefully go back to all the fantastic places you’ve highlighted here. Love the castles, of course, especially that shot of Dunstanburgh in the mist! Wow! Roll on next year! 🙂

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Hi Alli, great to hear from you 😀 I hope the move went well and you’re settling in nicely? I’m happy to have brought back good memories for you and to have excited you for next year’s visit!

  • Alison

    Looks very impressive Sarah, we’ve never been but visited close by. Isn’t Bamburgh Castle where The Last Kingdom was filmed, one of my all time favourite shows.
    Well I might have to put that on my list now ,😁

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Yes, Bamburgh been used for filming a lot, including the Last Kingdom. Check out my post on the castle, linked above, if you’re interested in reading about the real Uhtred, Uhtred the Bold 🙂 It’s a must visit if you’re in that area, but if you’re adding it to your list I clearly wasn’t off-putting enough 😆

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