In Northumberland, there are over 70 castles left for you to explore. They all played some part in the regions incredible history. Now then don’t worry, this post doesn’t have information about ALL of them (because that would be a thesis sized post!). This is full of all the ones I have visited so far and will continue to update it as I go.
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As I have already said there are over 70 castles in the county of Northumberland all full of incredible history and played a part in this ever-changing place. The two most famous and beautiful castles are Alnwick Castle and Bamburgh Castle.
Alnwick is perhaps best known for being used as a filming set for the first two Harry Potter films. It has been years since I visited the castle itself, and if I remember correctly, they were doing a huge Harry Potter promotion at the time. So it must have been the early 2000s.
The castle is one of the most expensive in Northumberland to visit as tickets cost £18.50 per adult.
Children (5yrs – 16yrs): £9.75
Family tickets are available. Due to covid, you need to book in advance and book a timeslot to enter. Because of this they no longer offer combination tickets if you wanted to visit the gardens as well. Check their website for more info on booking etc.
The gardens at Alnwick are incredible too and there is always something going on depending on what time of year you visit. Having visited last winter to see their winter light display, and to see the blossom trees in bloom during spring, I highly recommend visiting these beautiful gardens!
The gardens are still on the pricier side however, I think they are worth it:
Family tickets are available, check out their website for more info and booking.
Also, check out my Guide to Visiting the Alnwick Gardens.
While you’re in Alnwick, you should definitely pop into Barter Books while you’re there. It’s one of the largest collections of second-hand books and is a book lover heaven!
Bamburgh is another one of Northumberland’s most famous castles, and this is probably down to it being the MOST beautiful and stunning architecturally in the county.
Most recently, it was used as a filming set for the newest Indiana Jones film. And it is clear why. Bamburgh is a really beautiful castle from the outside, and inside. Although if you wanted to skip paying to go inside, you wouldn’t be necessarily missing out in my opinion.
Tickets do not need to be pre-booked or timeslots required which is incredibly refreshing right now. You can just book for the day and turn up whenever you’d like. However, if you just turn up without booking and they are full, you won’t be allowed in until it’s quieter.
Tickets cost £12.50 for adults and £6.15 for children (5yrs-16yrs). You can book your tickets here.
However, if you do choose to visit Bamburgh, you should definitely visit some of the other areas along the Northumberland coast nearby. Bamburgh beach offers spectacular views of the castle itself and is worth a visit! Alternatively, you could go south to some of the seaside towns there such as Seahouses or Beadnell. Or if you wanted to keep with the castle theme, you could go a little north to Lindisfarne Castle.
Lindisfarne Castle is an incredibly beautiful one located on Holy Island named so because the island was once home to a monastery and priory. The island is only accessible at certain parts of the day due to the rising tide flooding the causeway. This means that you MUST CHECK THE TIDE TIMES before your visit to make sure that you can not only get there but also get back (A lesson I have learned from experience!). You can check the time times here.
The island itself is definitely worth a visit as it is full of sweet cafes, beautiful views of the Northumberland Coastline, done to Bamburgh and up to Berwick-Upon-Tweed, and of course the castle itself.
If you want to go inside the castle, it is a National Trust site so members get in for free. Otherwise, you need to book your tickets in advance including a timeslot for your visit.
Tickets cost £9 for adults and £4.50 for children. They also have family tickets available. If you want to know more and book up click here.
Now then, in my personal opinion, Lindisfarne Castle looks 1000x better from the outside, and if we didn’t have our national trust passes, I would have been pissed to have paid £36 for the four of us to go inside. It literally takes 15 minutes to walk around and the views aren’t much better than what you can get from the island itself. So really I’m not sure it’s worth it, but the island itself is absolutely worth it!
Chillingham Castle is the opposite of Lindisfarne as it looks incredible from the outside, but the inside is just as worth seeing! It is still a family home for the Wakefield Family. The owners are the in-laws for Dominic Cummings which is interesting… While we visited we actually met Sir Edward Humphry Tyrell Wakefield who owns the castle. He was a close friend of the late Prince Phillip and throughout the castle, you can see photographs of them together.
Because the castle has been in part turned into a tourist attraction, it feels very untouched, authentic as a home and a little chaotic. It’s a bit like an elitist episode of hoarders! There are just incredible artefacts everywhere.
The castle itself is allegedly haunted and is meant to be one of the most haunted places in Britain. You can stay over and take part in their ghost tours if you so wished. Information can be found here. Alternatively, if you just wished to visit the castle itself, you can do so. You do not need to pre-book and they have no way of doing so, you simply turn up on the day you want to visit. Tickets cost £10.50 for adults and £6.50 for children. More information can be found here.
If you do plan on visiting, you should definitely go and explore the grounds and head up to the lake. Here we spotted many grey squirrels and a baby red deer so keep your eyes peeled!
Speaking of castles you can stay over in, Langley Castle is in a great location for anyone wanting to explore Northumberland. It is just a stone’s throw from Hadrian’s Wall, Hexham and Corbridge. We were lucky enough to stay there last year in the lul of the pandemic. And while there were a few hiccups with our stay, I do think everyone should stay in a castle at least once!
You can read my hotel review here on my blog.
The castle itself is incredible. We stayed in the old stables which gave us a beautiful view up to the castle where we were able to sit out and enjoy our breakfast.
Although the castle is predominantly a hotel now, you can book private tours of the place. Or you can dine in their restaurant or have an afternoon tea in the drawing-room which looked really good! Have a look at their website to book any of the experiences mentioned.
From a castle you can stay over in, to one you absolutely cannot, Dunstanburgh is an absolute must-visit in Northumberland! The fortress dates back to 1313 and the ruins that remain are merely a shadow of the former site. However, what remains is utterly fascinating.
You do need to book your visit through the English Heritage website which you can do here. Standard admission is £5.90 for adults, £3.50 for children with family tickets and concession tickets available.
However, if you didn’t want to pay to visit the castle, simply walking around the area will give you plenty of great views of this historic site.
You can see the site from very far away as it sits perched on a hill on the Northumberland Coast. The best place to park is at Craster which is just south of the castle and is a great spot to grab some lunch or a pint at one of the pubs there.
I wrote a post about our visit last time we were there which you can read here on my blog.
Another castle that has been reduced to ruins to view is the castle of Etal. Located just 20 minutes inland from Berwick-Upon-Tweed, the small castle remains to give you a glimpse into what life was like when the land was being fought over by the English and the Scots.
This castle was built as part of the defence of England and changed sides twice as a result of the scots taking it over, and then losing it following the battle of Flodden nearby. The battlegrounds of which you can go and see also.
Right now the site is free due to the exhibition not being deemed fit for covid safe practice so it is a great chance to see the site for nothing.
Because of the small size of this site and the fact that without the exhibition it is merely an incredibly old castle in a field I wouldn’t recommend going to visit this singularly. However, you could absolutely join it with the attractions of the nearby Ford and Etal estates which I highly recommend doing!
Ford Castle is another part of the Ford and Etal Estate however, it is not open for public viewing as it remains a family home. Instead, it Is used as an outdoor activity centre for school groups.
There is some incredible history here too, most notably it was used as a hospital by the red cross during the second world war. It is a shame it isn’t open to the public, maybe one day it will be. But you can spy a glimpse of it through the front gate and you can see how incredible it looks. It reminds me of Buckingham Palace!
If you do choose to come to Ford, then you really need to wander into the village itself. Ford village is a really sweet small town where everyone’s gardens are pristine, everyone is really friendly and it is really beautiful. Sit in the village and have a cuppa is highly recommended!
If you want to know more about what there is to see and do throughout the Ford and Etal estate then check out their website or have a read of this great itinerary from North East Family Fun.
Thank you for reading this post. Don’t worry if your favourite Northumberland Castle isn’t yet on here, I will be updating this post with every new castle I get to visit! Let me know your favourite down below or if you have any recommendations for which one I should visit next, I’d love to hear them!
Stay Safe and Happy Adventuring!
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