Northumberland 250

Why We Love The Northumberland 250

  • Landscapes - From rugged coastlines to rolling hills, the Northumberland 250 offers diverse landscapes, including Kielder Forest, Europe's largest area of protected night sky.
  • History - There are approximately 20 castles along the Northumberland 250 route, each with its own unique history and architectural charm. Step inside one of the best preserved Roman forts in Britain at Vindolanda on Hadrian’s Wall.
  • Wildlife - Witness puffins, seals, and dolphins along the coast. Watch red squirrels in ancient woodlands like Kielder Forest, and spot rare birds of prey including the Peregrine falcon.

Northumberland 250 Itineraries

What is the Northumberland 250?

The Northumberland 250 is a 250-mile road trip route that roughly follows the county borderlines of Northumberland. The route passes rugged coastline, ancient woodlands and quaint villages. I‘d recommend doing the route over 7-10 days to experience as many of the sites as possible. If you can spare more time, even better!

Whether you're a seasoned road tripper or this is your first time, the Northumberland 250 promises an epic adventure filled with breathtaking views, intriguing history, and friendly locals.

The View from Housesteads Roman FortThe View from Housesteads Roman Fort

Northumberland 250 route

The Northumberland 250 route roughly follows the county border of Northumberland and between Berwick-Upon-Tweed and Kielder, crosses the border into Scotland. I’d recommend starting the route in Blanchland so that all 4 stages of your trip have something unique to offer.

  • Stage 1: Blanchland to Alnwick - Explore the quintessentially British villages of Blanchland, Corbridge, and Rothbury. Marvel at the Simonside Hills before visiting Cragside House, one of the UK’s favourite National Trust properties. 
  • Stage 2: Alnwick to Berwick-Upon-Tweed - Explore Alnwick’s Castle and Gardens, travel through Craster and Beadnell to discover coastal gems like Dunstanburgh Castle and the majestic Bamburgh Castle, before venturing onto windswept Holy Island.
  • Stage 3: Berwick to Kielder - Discover the ancient abbey ruins of Kelso and Jedburgh, venture into the beautiful forest of Kielder and marvel at far away stars and galaxies from Kielder Observatory.
  • Stage 4: Kielder to Allendale - Enjoy Hexham’s charm by visiting Hexham Abbey, discover Roman forts along Hadrian’s Wall, and live luxuriously at the mediaeval fortress of Langley Castle Hotel.
Alnwick CastleAlnwick Castle

Stage 1: Blanchland to Alnwick

The countryside between Blanchland and Alnwick will take you through the heart of Northumberland. Marvel at enchanting villages like Blanchland, Corbridge and Rothbury.  Enjoy breathtaking views as you pass by the rugged Simonside Hills and enrich yourself in the history of Cragside House before you arrive at the beautiful town of Alnwick.

Top things to do between Blanchland and Alnwick

  • Lord Crewe Arms - Visit the Lord Crewe Arms, a historic 12th-century abbot's lodge turned charming inn, nestled in the picturesque village of Blanchland.
  • Slaley Forest - Follow hiking trails through the dense woodland of Slaley Forest. 
  • Corbridge - Discover the enchanting village of Corbridge and enjoy a delicious pastry at the Grant's Bakery.
  • Simonside Hills - Trek through the rolling hills of Simonside for breathtaking views of the Northumberland countryside.
  • Rothbury - Explore the quaint village of Rothbury and the charming cafes, tea rooms, and bakeries of Front Street.
  • Thrunton Woods - Enjoy scenic walks and mountain biking at Thrunton Woods.
  • Cragside House - Step inside one of the most loved National Trust properties in Britain at Cragside, home of the 19th-century inventor Lord Armstrong. Cragside features an eclectic collection of artefacts, beautiful woodland walks, and Lord Armstrong’s study, the first room ever to be powered by electricity.
  • Alnwick Castle and Gardens - Explore Alnwick Castle, the private home of the Percy family and the original film set for Hogwarts. Venture into Alnwick Gardens, famous for their lush greenery and unique Poison Garden.
  • Barter Books - Lose yourself in a world-famous secondhand bookshop housed within a magnificent Victorian railway station at Barter Books.
  • Hulne Park - Enjoy a river walk through the enchanting landscape of Hulne Park, home to the rare Dawn Redwood trees.
Lindisfarne Castle on Holy IslandLindisfarne Castle on Holy Island

Stage 2: Alnwick to Berwick-Upon-Tweed

From Alnwick, venture up the rugged coastline of Northumberland to the most northerly town in England, Berwick-Upon-Tweed. Stroll along the beautiful beaches of Alnmouth, Embleton, and Beadnell Bay, soak up the rich history of Warkworth Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle, and Bamburgh Castle, before completing the causeway crossing to Holy Island.

Things to Do Between Alnwick and Berwick-Upon-Tweed

  • The Running Fox - Visit The Running Fox, a delightful cafe nestled in the heart of Shilbottle. Indulge yourself with delicious homemade quiches, pies, cakes, scones and sandwiches.
  • Warkworth Castle - Explore the mediaeval ruins of Warkworth Castle and enjoy breathtaking views of the River Coquet and Northumberland countryside.
  • Amble Harbour Village - Stroll along the picturesque harbour and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the village's famous craft stalls featuring handcrafted jewellery, pottery, unique artwork and ice cream.
  • Howick Hall Gardens & Arboretum - Visit Howick Hall, the ancestral home of Earl Grey and wander through its expansive gardens and arboretum.
  • Craster and Dunstanburgh Castle - Stop in the charming fishing village of Craster for some local seafood and take a scenic walk along the coast to the dramatic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle.
  • Embleton Bay - Enjoy the pristine sands and clear waters of Embleton Bay, perfect for a leisurely beach walk or a picnic with stunning coastal views.
  • Beadnell Bay Beach - Visit this beautiful beach known for its sweeping sands and opportunities for water sports, bird watching, and relaxing by the sea.
  • Seahouses Harbour - Explore the bustling Seahouses Harbour, where you can take a boat trip to the Farne Islands, famous for their seabird colonies and grey seals.
  • Bamburgh Castle - Discover the majestic Bamburgh Castle, perched on a hill overlooking the sea, and explore its impressive interiors and museum collections.
  • Holy Island of Lindisfarne - Plan your visit to coincide with low tide to access Holy Island, the home of Saint Cuthbert, where you can explore Lindisfarne Castle and the historic priory ruins.
Bamburgh CastleBamburgh Castle

Stage 3: Berwick-Upon-Tweed to Kielder

Explore the impressive town of Berwick-Upon-Tweed before crossing the border into Scotland. Explore the remains of ancient abbeys at Kelso, Melrose, and Jedburgh before descending back into Northumberland and toward the protected forest of Kielder.

Things to Do Between Berwick-Upon-Tweed and Kielder

  • Berwick Beach - Enjoy golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking coastal views at Berwick Beach  – perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and paddleboarding.
  • Berwick Town Walls - Explore Berwick's iconic Elizabethan walls, offering panoramic views of the town and its surroundings, steeped in centuries of history.
  • Ford & Etal Estates - Visit the charming village of Etal to explore the historic sites of Etal Castle, Cheviot Brewery, and Heatherslaw Corn Mill.
  • Kelso Abbey - Immerse yourself in the tranquillity of these ancient abbey ruins, nestled amidst lush greenery and offering glimpses into England’s past.
  • Floors Castle - Wander through the grandeur of Scotland's largest inhabited castle, admiring its magnificent architecture and exquisite interiors, set amidst stunning landscaped gardens.
  • Eildon Hills - Hike to the summit of these iconic hills for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, dotted with ancient forts and steeped in myth and legend.
  • Scott's View - Stop at this scenic viewpoint, favoured by Sir Walter Scott, for sweeping vistas of the River Tweed and the rolling hills beyond.
  • Abbotsford - Visit Abbotsford, the stunning home of Sir Walter Scott in the Scottish Borders. Explore the author's preserved study and library, before venturing into the gardens that inspired his legendary works.
  • Kielder Observatory -  Spot galaxies, stars, and planets in Europe's second largest area of protected night sky at Kielder Observatory.
  • Kielder Forest - Lose yourself in the tranquillity of England’s largest man-made forest, offering serene woodland walks and captivating wildlife encounters including otters, red squirrels, and pine martens.
Hadrian's Wall near Waltown CragsHadrian's Wall near Waltown Crags

Stage 4: Kielder to Allendale

Travel south along the waterside of Kielder Water, passing country pubs and the ancient woodland of Northumberland National Park. Explore Roman Ruins and hike through beautiful landscapes whilst following Hardian’s Wall.

Things to Do Between Kielder and Allendale

  • The Pheasant Inn - Swing by The Pheasant Inn, a county pub dating back to the 1600s and enjoy a fabulous Sunday lunch cooked with home-grown ingredients.
  • Hareshaw Linn Waterfall - Hike through the ancient woodlands of Northumberland National Park and marvel at the powerful cascades of Hareshaw Linn Waterfall.
  • The Rat Inn - Enjoy a meal cooked by an award-winning chef at The Rat Inn, currently ranked 14th in the Estrella Damm Top 50 UK gastropubs.
  • Hexham Abbey - Immerse yourself in history and architectural splendour at Hexham Abbey, a mediaeval masterpiece steeped in centuries of heritage.
  • Twice Brewed - Savour craft ales and delicious food at Twice Brewed Brew House, a charming inn nestled along Hadrian's Wall.
  • Steel Rigg, Hadrian’s Wall - Visit Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and soak up the breathtaking landscapes from Steel Rigg viewpoint.
  • Roman Vindolanda Museum - Step back in time at the Roman Armory Museum and Magna Fort of Vindolanda, an 200 year old auxiliary fort just south of Hadrian's Wall.
  • Langley Castle Hotel - Retire after some fun-filled road tripping, and enjoy an afternoon tea at Langley Castle Hotel, a stunning mediaeval fortress featuring luxury accommodation and fine dining.
  • Allendale Brewery - Visit the welcoming taproom of Allendale Brewery and sample their range of craft beer and traditional ales.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. Although the Northumberland 250 was originally designed for Land Rover Defenders, the full route features well tarmacked roads and roads wide enough for large motorhomes, campervans and caravans.

The summer months (June to August) offer the most favourable weather, but spring and autumn can also be great times to visit. Winter driving conditions may be more challenging, especially for larger vehicles like motorhomes and campervans.

Most people complete the route in 7-10 days, but I’d recommend staying as long as possible to make the most of the beaches, castles, hiking trails and wildlife.

Yes, many attractions along the route are pet-friendly. However, I’d recommend checking with any cafes, castles, and pubs before arrival. Make sure you bring treats to keep your furry friend comfortable on long drives!

The Northumberland 250 doesn’t have an official start or finish but I’d recommend starting the route in Blanchland and finishing in Allendale to ensure each stage of your trip has something unique to offer.