From the crisp countryside air to the rolling hills and rocky coastline, there’s nothing better than exploring Northumberland by foot. As one of the most sparsely populated counties in England, this corner of the world promises everything from untouched natural landscapes to miles of rich history and culture. Home to Hadrian’s Wall, a variety of species of wildlife and a world-famous coastline, there’s every reason to take a hike in the North East.
Whether you’re a family of avid hikers or you’re looking for new ways to keep your little ones entertained, getting up close and personal with nature means that you can fill those long school holidays with exciting and educational adventures that each one of you will love. There’s no shortage of things to do in and around Newcastle, making this picturesque region a must-visit destination - and with the summertime fast approaching, we’re bringing you a handful of family-friendly hiking routes so that you can set about exploring the North East on foot.
For an 8 mile hike that boasts both a wealth of history and unbeatable rural views, this circular route around the ruins of the Roman fort, Vercovicium, is not to be missed. Park in Housesteads car park and head to the fort’s family-friendly museum to see what life was like on the Northern frontier of the Roman empire. See where the barracks block, hospital and Commander’s House all once stood, then head left on your journey to explore the north side of Hadrian’s Wall. Pass down the crag to the world famous Sycamore Gap, before taking the trail west to your halfway point, the 17th Century farm, Steel Rigg. On your return journey to Housesteads, immerse yourself in local folklore while exploring Kings Wicket, a dip in the crags which is also known as Busy Gap.
If you’re looking to get up close and personal with the area’s much-loved wildlife, the circular 2 mile walk to Hethpool Linn is the perfect choice. From the dramatic waterfall on the College Burn to the array of wild Cheviot goats, the magnificence of these unspoilt natural surroundings means that this hike through the Northumberland National Park will suit trekkers of all ages and ability. Starting from Hethpool car park, follow St Cuthbert’s Way and cross boardwalks, stiles and footbridges before reaching Hethpool Linn. Pause in front of this impressive cascade, before continuing along the path in search of the wild goats on the lower slopes of the Wester Tor.
With the 6 mile trek from Craster to Dunstanburgh rumoured to be home to some of the best sights on the Northumberland coast, this waterfront hike should be high on your itinerary. From the picturesque harbour village of Craster, head a mile north along the rocky shoreline and take in the impressive view of the 14th century fortress, Dunstanburgh Castle, standing boldly on the rocky North Sea headland. As you continue your journey across the unspoilt sands of Embleton Bay, note the concrete bunkers built in the Second World War, and see if you can spot oystercatchers overhead. At Low Newton, catch your breath in the fishing village’s quaint square, before heading inland and exploring the woodland towards Dunstan Steads.
Starting from the vibrant village of Bellingham, travel the 3 mile route through Hareshaw Dene and see the array of rare ferns and lichen with your own eyes. From red squirrels to woodpeckers and wood warblers, this woodland walk to the 30ft Hareshaw Linn means you can encounter flora and fauna up close. As you make your way along the trails in this ancient forest, enjoy several games of ‘poohsticks’ as you cross the six bridges connecting walkers to the impressive waterfall.
Just a stone’s throw from the village of Rothbury, there’s no shortage of things to see on this family-friendly walk in the Harwood Forest. Close to the Simonside Hills, start your 3.5 mile trek in the Simonside Forestry car park, before heading into the woods. As the trail reaches the edge of the trees, hikers will stumble across the striking view of the Coquet Valley and Cheviot Hills in the distance. Continuing along the footpath, follow signposts to Little Church Rock and pursue even more breath-taking panoramas - before retracing your steps through this historical forest.
Whether you and your family are looking to challenge yourselves on a trek in somewhere new or get up close and personal with Northumberland’s weird and wonderful wildlife, traversing the region by foot is no doubt the best way to experience all that the North East has to offer.
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