What better month could there be to get out and about in Northumberland than May? Not only are there are two bank holidays and a school half term break, but longer days and warmer weather mean you can make the most of the great outdoors to go exploring on your next family adventure.
Whether you fancy following in the footsteps of Harry Potter at Alnwick Castle or seeing what you can spot on a Northumberland National Park Nature Trail, there’s always lots to see and do during a family-friendly getaway to Northumberland.
Here are our top five reasons to make sure Northumberland is on your visit list this Spring.
1. Beautiful (and dog-friendly) Northumberland beaches
Northumberland enjoys a long stretch of coastline (around 30 miles in total) with sandy beaches that are dog-friendly all year round.
One of our favourite family things to do is go rock-pooling on the beach at Bamburgh. You can enjoy a lovely view of Bamburgh castle as the children hunt for beasties in the pools of water.
Another great choice is the sandy beach at Cresswell which is ideal for taking a bucket and spade to build sandcastles. The vast stretch of sand is protected from the wind by sand dunes, so it’s also perfect for a walk (with or without your four-legged friend).
A top pick for food and drink is The Ship Inn at Alnwick where you can enjoy a fresh crab sandwich or local kippers as you look out over the beach. Alternatively, Riley’s Fish Shack at Tynemouth has developed a reputation in recent years for serving the freshest seafood in the region. The shack is located down on the beach and the menu changes daily depending on the catch.
For more Northumberland Beach inspiration read our guide to The Best Beaches in Northumberland.
2. Springtime Northumberland activities for kids
There are lots of family-friendly activities to try in Northumberland during the May half-term holidays.
Our favourites include The Alnwick Joust which takes place over the spring bank holiday and features a medieval encampment with traditional songs and plenty of valiant knights ready to win the hands of fair maidens!
We highly recommend combining a visit to the joust with a spot of Harry Potter Broomstick Training at Alnwick Castle which will keep any budding witches and wizards very happy indeed.
Kielder Forest is always a firm family favourite and the James and the Giant Peach ‘My Forest Adventure Kit’ is a great way to get children to learn about their environment. The kit includes everything from foldout binoculars to a collecting tray and forest finds card to start young explorers on their way.
If you fancy getting up close with the animals, then Northumberland Zoo has lots of hands-on experiences including feeding meerkats and stepping into the shoes of a zookeeper for a day. Of course, you can always wander around the various mammal and farm animal enclosures to see what you can find.
3. Gorgeous Northumberland gardens in spring bloom
Northumberland certainly isn’t short of gorgeous gardens and May is a great time to wander round them and enjoy the colours and scents of springtime flowers in bloom.
The Alnwick Garden includes a bamboo labyrinth, a tranquil orchard full of cherry blossom and some impressive water sculptures (including a Grand Cascade which is made up of 120 jets). You can have fun and games at The Forgotten Garden Adventure Golf and then get a bite to eat (or even a glass of prosecco) at The Pavilion Kitchen to round off your day.
Cragside is a National Trust property that dates back to Victorian times and is one of the most impressive houses and gardens of that era. The Formal Garden covers 3 acres and it still has lots of original features such as a surviving glasshouse from the 1870s. Cragside also houses one of the largest rock gardens in Europe and has the tallest Scots pine conifer in the UK within its Pinetum. There’s lots to keep children entertained during a visit too with den building, an adventure play area and woodland creatures to seek out within a magical labyrinth.
If you fancy a garden by the beach, Howick Hall Gardens and Arboretum near Alnwick was named one of the top five coastal gardens in the UK by Gardeners World magazine. It’s also been the ancestral home of every Earl Grey since 1319. The famous tea was named after the second Earl Grey in case you are wondering so we recommend enjoying a cup in the Earl Grey Tea House after exploring the beautiful wildflower gardens and impressive arboretum. You can finish your day by take a scenic 1.5 mile walk through the arboretum (it’s named The Long Walk) which goes right down to the sea.
4. Outdoor adventures in Northumberland National Park
Not only is Northumberland home to one of England’s most peaceful National Parks but it’s also where you can find the clearest air and cleanest rivers in the country.
Children can play, splash (and generally have a whale of a time) in this unpolluted environment and the scenery is spectacular. You’ll find dramatic waterfalls, woodland walks and lots of nature to spot along the way. Northumberland is one of the few places you can still see native red squirrels, whilstother wildlife you may come across includes: roe deer, curlew, otter and grouse.
We recommend trying the Reaveley Farm Family Stroll which is a gentle 3-mile woodland walk where you can spot many varieties of birds (including red kites, heron and kestrels) as well as red squirrels and even otters in the River Breamish. You can call in the Ingram Cafe for refreshments on your return.
Find out more about the Northumberland National Park
5. Spotting puffins on the Farne Islands
May is one of the peak times for visiting the Farne Islands in Northumberland and you’ll find puffins, kittiwakes and guillemots amongst the species of birds nesting here.
Daily boat trips take place from Seahouses and these will typically take a boat trip around the well-loved islands (there are 28 Farne Islands in total) before landing on Inner Farne. You can take a look around the National Trust site (usually for around an hour) and see the breeding birds up close.
Boats to the Farne Islands set sail from the harbour at Seahouses and you’ll find an assortment of shops, pubs in this pretty Northumberland village. We recommend getting some takeaway fish and chips which you can eat looking out over the harbour.
Browse our range of Seahouses Holiday cottages
Has this inspired you to pay a visit to Northumberland this May? Cottages in Northumberland have a range of family-friendly holiday cottages that are perfect for a half-term holiday or a weekend break. Whether you are looking to stay in a coastal retreat near the beach or a rural country cottage near Northumberland National Park, take a look and start planning your next family adventure today.