About the Area
The Northumberland National Park
Welcome to Northumberland National Park! Along the western edge of this magnificent county are 405 square miles of outstanding landscape from Hadrian’s Wall - part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire -World Heritage Site in the south, to Kielder Water & Forest Park to the west, then reaching up along the Cheviot Hills towards the Scottish Border. We have the clearest air and darkest skies in Britain; and four of the country’s cleanest rivers are sourced in our hills. The least populated of all the National Parks, it is home to less than 2,000 people, most of whom live along one of its six main river valleys. It is officially the country’s most tranquil location, criss-crossed by 700 miles of footpaths and rights of way, where you can walk, cycle or horse-ride with only the sounds of nature for company.
Situated in the north of Northumberland National Park less than an hour from Newcastle, the Cheviot Hills mark the border with Scotland, a wild, romantic landscape of hills and valleys.
You’ll experience the warmest of welcomes and meet friendly folk who are passionate about celebrating what is distinctive in their thriving local communities. Taste traditional foods and flavours, take in dramatic scenery, observe unique wildlife, ancient habitats and cutting-edge, low-carbon, green enterprises. And even though the National Park has a clearly defined boundary, there are many ‘gateway’ towns and villages close by where you’ll be greeted just as cordially and where the same enthusiasm for our special values exists. Northumberland National Park is a place to refresh both mind and spirit, a place for the whole family to enjoy, with something to reward visitors of all ages. Come and explore one of Britain’s ‘breathing spaces’ and be inspired!
The Northumberland Coast
This bright, wild, lonely coast sweeps along some of Britain's finest beaches and is internationally noted for its wildlife.
Where the coastline is broken by the Whin Sill, ancient black basalt meets the sea in low headlands and rocky coves, dramatic setting for Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh Castles and shelter for working harbours such as Craster.
Much of the coast is owned or managed by conservation organisations and includes many Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The dunes, marshes and mud-flats of the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve are one of the best sites in Europe for waders and waterfowl and offshore, the Farne Islands are a protected seabird sanctuary. The AONB's dune systems are a particularly fine example of this fragile habitat.
The local rural economy is based on mixed arable farming, livestock fattening and dairying together with fishing. The AONB, with a population of 12,500, includes small ports such as Seahouses and Alnmouth and some of Britain's last inshore fleets sail from its harbours. Tourism is an important supplement to the local economy.
Although the coast is less intensively used than most, it attracts many peak period visitors, both as a holiday destination and as a day trip from nearby towns and Tyneside. The coast remains relatively undeveloped for tourism which is largely based on caravan and camp sites. There is no continuous coastal road or footpath running the length of the coast which contributes to and protects its remoteness.
The AONB, a narrow coastal strip, stretches from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Amble. Soft sandstone and limestone rocks dipping gently as a plain to the sea make this essentially a low-lying coast with long views. Open miles of beach are backed in places by extensive sand dunes and the AONB takes in the island of Lindisfarne and its treacherous intertidal flats, as well as the numerous small islands and rocks of the Farne Islands further out from the coast.
The Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is among the finest landscapes in the country.
The Northumberland Coast AONB was designated in 1958 and covers 39 miles of coast from Berwick to the Coquet estuary. Within this stretch of coastline is some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in the country.
The area is best known for its sweeping sandy beaches, rolling dunes, high rocky cliffs and isolated islands. Amidst this striking landscape is the evidence of an area steeped in history, covering 7,000 years of human activity. A host of conservation sites, including two National Nature Reserves, testify to the great variety of wildlife and habitats also found in the AONB.
• It has two National Nature Reserves (Lindisfarne and the Farne Islands)
• It has 3 Special Protection Areas for birds
• It has 2 Special Areas of Conservation
• It has 2 Ramsar sites – wetlands of international importance
• The Farne Islands supports a population of 4000 grey seals, the largest colony on the east coast