A Travellerspoint blog

England’s Border country



Steel Rigg, Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland

This isn't a blog about a single trip but a collection of entries about the beautiful English county of Northumberland. I come here often on short visits while on our frequent trips to nearby Newcastle and want to share some of my favourite places.

Northumberland is one of England’s loveliest counties, and one of its least visited. This is due perhaps to its relative remoteness in the far north east of the country, and perhaps also to the fact that those of us who know how lovely it is choose not to shout its praises too loudly for fear that too many visitors will spoil it!

Despite that fear though, I can't resist the temptation to share some of its beauty and to encourage anyone who wants to see a different side of England to visit. Whether you’re looking for stunning coastal scenery, wild landscapes or ancient history, you will find them here.

Druridge Bay

Some of the country’s most beautiful beaches line the Northumbrian coast, although the chilly waters of the North Sea and the often cold winds that blow off it mean that they will be largely deserted on all but the hottest of summer days.

Inland the Cheviot Hills are almost completely unspoiled, and you can stand on the ancient Roman Hadrian’s Wall and look north across one of the least populated areas of the country. A series of majestic castles fringes the land on its seaward side, including Alnwick and Bamburgh – two of the most interesting castles in the country to visit. And to the south lies industrial Tyneside, which too has its attractions, not least in that very industrial heritage.

Dunstanburgh Castle

This blog does not claim to paint a comprehensive picture of this beautiful county, but is rather a collection of snapshots of destinations there that I have enjoyed visiting. I will add more suggestions as we continue to explore this lovely county.

The flag of Northumberland

At Heatherslaw Mill

Wherever you travel in Northumberland you are likely to come across this flag. It was adopted as the county council’s flag as recently as 1995 but it has clearly captured the imagination of local people who display it proudly on buildings, as a bumper sticker on their cars and even on their clothing (e.g. baseball caps). This popularity may be because its origins are much older than that appropriation by the council, and there are claims that it is the oldest known flag design in Britain. It is derived from the red and gold striped flag of the ancient Anglo kingdom of Bernicia, which merged with that of Deira in the early 7th century to form the Kingdom of Northumbria. Later, in medieval times, the colours of red and gold were adopted by the first Earl of Northumberland.

The British County flags website describes its history thus:

‘The 7th century King and Saint, Oswald, founded the kingdom of Northumbria by merging his domain of Bernicia with its southern neighbour Deira. The Venerable Bede, England’s first historian, writing in his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum describes Oswald’s tomb where “…they hung up over the monument his banner made of gold and purple.” It is probable that this description caused the medieval heralds to assign arms of eight alternate stripes of red and gold (yellow) to Bernicia.

It is reported that in the Middle Ages the same colours were flown by the first Earl of Northumberland, Henry Percy. Before its formal award of arms in 1951, the Northumberland County Council had informally used these attributed arms of Bernicia although the College of Arms modified the design, dividing the stripes by an “embattled” line, that is an indentation which resembles a castle’s crenellations; the red and yellow stripes in the lower half were then “counter changed”. The modification was intended to symbolise the interlocking stones of Hadrian’s Wall, which runs through the county, and Northumberland’s position as a border shire.’

It is quite probable that most people flying or displaying the flag know little of its history, but they reflect an ancient tradition when they do so, as well as demonstrating their pride in their county.

Posted by ToonSarah 09:01 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged landscapes beaches castles history national_park

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The photo of the castle fascinates me. I also have always been interested in Hadrian's wall. I've only been as far north as Liverpool in England but would love to explore more of the north.

by littlesam1

If I win the vote to host Euromeet 2019 in Newcastle you must definitely come. We will have a day trip to at least one of the castles here, and/or the Wall, and you could stay a bit longer and see all the main sights :)

by ToonSarah

So glad you're doing this because that is where we're going in the autumn. It is wild and beautiful county . .. with weather to match. We were hiking along Hadrian's Wall once and had sun, rain, sleet, hail and sun again within less than two hours. It was pretty funny and very memorable. We're spending a night on Lindisfarne on our upcoming trip. I'm really looking forward to following this blog.

by Beausoleil

What great timing on my part Sally ;) Lindisfarne, aka Holy Island, will be coming up very soon! I'm pleased to read that you're staying the night - that's by far the best way to experience it. Do message me if you have any queries about your trip planning

by ToonSarah

The only reservation I've made thus far is the one on Lindisfarne. We have plane tickets and a night reserved on Lindisfarne. The rest is waiting until we return from our earlier trip to Cornwall and the Cotswolds. I'm sure I'll have lots of questions for you. Thank you for the offer of help.

by Beausoleil

Your shameless promo did make me find my way here ;) The castles do look interesting :)

by hennaonthetrek

Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England, Henna, so it's a great place to go if that's something that interests you :)

by ToonSarah

I am more than eager to read more now that the snow is melting a little! :)

by Ils1976

It's a fraction warmer here to day too Ils :)

by ToonSarah

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