If you’re visiting Northumberland you will undoubtedly want to take in some of Hadrian’s Wall and there is nowhere better to appreciate this epic UNESCO World Heritage Site than at Housesteads Roman Fort.
Set high on a dramatic escarpment on Hadrian’s Wall, Housesteads was one of the16 permanent bases along Hadrian’s Wall and is the most complete example of a Roman fort in Britain. The fort is the most well known in the whole of the Roman Empire and is home to some of the most outstanding original features of a Roman fortress.
Although owned by The National Trust the site is run by English Heritage and their interactive museum showcases a great display of objects that once belonged to the Roman soldiers, and the short film that shows in the mini-cinema takes you on a journey through time as you watch the fort brought to life with stunning recreations of the original Roman buildings. You’ll get a real insight into Roman military life and discover the past behind the archaeological remains as you stroll around the barrack blocks, the Commander’s House, the granaries, the hospital and as you peer into the communal and undoubtedly the oldest toilets you’re ever likely to see.
A visit to Housesteads also gives the opportunity to enjoy a 5 mile circular walk which will take you past the site of Sycamore Gap following the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail before circling back to take you along the Roman Military Way.
Due to the nature of the site a visit to Housesteads involves a steep and uneven 750m walk from the car park, however the history of this ancient fortress together with the stunning panoramic views makes the walk worthwhile. A visit to Housesteads will leave you in awe of what the Romans achieved and gives real insight into the life of the soldiers based there and perhaps makes us realise just how tough and resilient they really were!
Walltown Country Park lies on the line of Hadrian’s Wall and within the stunning Northumberland National Park.
Up until 45 years ago Walltown was still a working quarry where the whinstone (that forms the crag along which Hadrian’s Wall runs) was blasted with dynamite to provide road stone for the expanding road network of the early 20th Century. After it closed in 1976 the quarry was filled in and landscaped, planted with trees and flowers, and today is a haven for wildlife.
Walltown is just a mile from Greenhead and around 6 miles from The Sill Discovery Centre and Vindolanda and only a stone’s throw from The Roman Army Museum making it really accessible if you’re exploring other parts of Hadrian’s Wall. There’s plenty parking, EV charge points, loos, a visitor centre and there’s really handy information boards making it easy to decide which walk or route you might like to take once you get there. Choose from short 10 minute or 25 minute walks or a longer 40 minute nature trail where you will discover the park’s wildlife, birdlife, ponds and a peace labyrinth which was planted in 2011 with 2000 willow trees which once fully grown will form a giant labyrinth.
The car park at Walltown also gives access to the Thirlwall Castle Walk which is an easy 2 mile circular route which takes you along the Tipalt Burn and past the ruins of Thirlwall Castle. This relic of troubled times dates back to the 12th Century to when John Thirlwall built this defensive home to protect his family and of course it was a well chosen spot as he had a plentiful supply of dressed stone from a nearby very large wall.
From Walltown Country Park you can walk along Hadrian’s Wall to Walltown Crags to see one of the most dramatic views of Hadrian’s Wall. The wall is so well preserved at this site and the sheer volcanic rock edge plunges into the landscape along the crags of the Whin Sill creating a spectacular viewpoint.
A day time visit to Walltown Country Park is all about woodlands, walking and wildlife, you’ll find it perfectly peaceful and wonderfully scenic and yet as night falls it is also the perfect place to see the amazing dark and starlit skies of Northumberland. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Nothing says ‘holiday’ more than heading out into the great outdoors with a picnic, so whether you simply throw some crusty bread and cheese in your backpack or you carefully prepare a gourmet basket of goodies, you will find plenty of perfect picnic spots in Northumberland.
National Trust and English Heritage sites are always a great choice for an al fresco lunch with benches, picnic tables and grassy areas aplenty. At Wallington Hall throw down your picnic blanket in the grassy courtyard or saunter off along one of the many walks to find some dappled shade or sit and enjoy the peace and tranquility within the walled garden. A trip to Cragside offers a huge area in which to enjoy your perfect picnic with perhaps some of the best spots being as you navigate The Carriage Drive with lots of lakeside dining areas to choose from and some hidden in the beautiful woodland of the Cragside Estate.
A visit to our Northumbrian Market Towns are a great day trip and a picnic can make for a relaxing lunchtime pitstop. Hexham boasts the beautiful Abbey grounds which includes the pretty bowling green surrounded by seating where you can enjoy an outdoor lunch and if you’re lucky you may even be able to enjoy all the sights and sounds of an outdoor bowls match. Carlisle Park in Morpeth is another great destination for a a picnic lunch and this lovely market town also offers the opportunity to stroll along the banks of the River Wansbeck or even row, row, row your boat up the river.
As far as scenic picnic spots go there can be few better than the dramatic landscape of Hadrian’s Wall, so throw a picnic together and venture out to enjoy some of the wonderful walks this area provides, although with so many wonderful vistas to admire it can be hard to choose. A short 20 minute drive takes you to the very impressive Cawfields which is one of the best preserved stretches of the Wall and provides the opportunity enjoy your packed lunch by the lake or at the sheltered picnic site before burning off some of those calories and taking the scenic walk to Milecastle 42.
Kielder Water & Forest Park covers an area of hundreds of square miles so finding a secluded but picturesque place to picnic is easy. With large grassed areas, picnic tables dotted all over, designated picnic areas and miles and miles of wide open space Kielder is the perfect place to escape and just enjoy the quiet and the vastness of this remote part of Northumberland. The Visit Kielder website is packed full of information on everything that can be enjoyed at Kielder.
Fancy a picnic and a paddle? Well just pick a beach, any beach on the North East coast. All of our Northumberland beaches are heavenly, the whole of our coastline offers wide, sweeping beaches of golden sands that boast to be some of the quietest in the country, there are hidden coves, huge sea views together with pathways, rockpools and dunes, all perfect for a romantic picnic for two. Although I’m afraid we can’t guarantee you won’t get sand in your sandwiches!
The beauty of a picnic means you can enjoy one anytime anywhere and you certainly don’t have to travel far to enjoy some open air dining when you stay at St Oswald’s Farm. We invite you to use our farm map and take a walk around our farmland and head to ‘our favourite spot’ on the farm. Brady’s Crag or The Bottom Crag as we call it, is the most perfect place to admire one of the best views from St Oswald’s and it’s a great place to enjoy an evening walk and witness our huge skies and spectacular Northumbrian sunsets. We provide a rug and a backpack in the cottage so all you need to do is chill a bottle of something lovely, grab some glasses and some tasty bites and take the 10 minute walk. We hope you are able to sit back and enjoy what we truly love about where we live.
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