I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like this has been a very long winter. When the magic of Christmas is over, it’s easy to fall into a slump, especially when the weather has been so bad, making getting out in nature much harder for many of us.
So, with that in mind, I think a lot of people will be turning their attention to the spring and summer holidays. Planning a holiday is one of the best ways to get out of a January slump and give yourself something to look forward to.
Even after the pandemic restrictions were lifted, many people chose to stay in the UK for their holidays. The time at home gave many of us a renewed appreciation for what’s on our doorstep or even a short drive away. Northumberland has held onto its popularity in recent years, with a recent poll putting it in the top five of all UK holiday destinations.
So, whether you’re looking for a winter weekend away, planning for the half-term break or considering staying local this summer, here are some of my top places to visit on a holiday in the North East.
For avid hill walkers
You’re not short of places to go walking in the North East. However, you might find that if you are planning a visit during the school holidays, then some of the more popular spots will be very busy, especially if the weather is nice.
Fortunately, there are still plenty of hidden gems that don’t attract the crowds. The Cheviot Hills are a great example of this. Straddling Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, this area is a vast range of hills for all walking abilities.
Experienced hill walkers might choose to ascend The Cheviot, the park’s highest peak at 815 metres. On a clear day, you can see across the Pennine Way as far as the Lake District. If you’re travelling with kids, or simply want an easier hike, then Linhope Spout offers an easy 3.2-mile walk, including a stunning 60-foot waterfall. Not far from here, you’ll also find Ingram Valley, a lovely spot perfect for picnics and even a dip in the stream on a hot day.
If you fancy a holiday in the Cheviots this year, there are plenty of places to stay on both sides of the border, including guesthouses in Alwinton, Otterburn and Jedburgh, as well as the popular River Breamish Club Campsite in Powburn.
For coastal calmness
There’s really no denying the impact being by the sea can have on our mental health. I live and work near the coast, and I still find myself venturing up to the Northumberland coastline regularly for both a break and to get inspiration for my artwork.
Popular areas like Seahouses, Bamburgh and Craster are all gorgeous places to stay for a long weekend or even a week by the sea. In fact, you’ll even find artwork and greeting cards in Drift, a lovely gift shop located on Main Street in Seahouses.
If you are looking to get away from it all, then there are a few quieter spots to stay in, from which you can explore all of the more popular spots. Alnmouth, Beadnell, Boulmer and Newton By The Sea are some of the lovely, quieter places to stay when exploring the award-winning Northumberland coastline.
For shopping, scranning and surfing
I’d be amiss not to mention my gallery’s home, Cullercoats. The North Tyneside coastline has undergone significant regeneration in recent years, and there’s so much to see and do within just a few miles. Explore Tynemouth’s bustling nightlife, venture to the station for the weekly market, and even enjoy some shopping on Park View in Whitley Bay - named one of the top 10 coolest shopping districts in the Guardian!
Again, there are plenty of places to stay for all budgets, including Whitley Bay’s popular caravan park and the newly renovated Tynemouth Castle Inn, which overlooks the beach and is just a ten-minute walk from us in Cullercoats! We’re on St Georges Road; we’re open Wed-Sun, 10 am to 5 pm.
For history lovers
Beamish Museum is one of my absolute favourite places to visit, any time of the year. The world-famous open-air museum covers a wide period of history, with so much to see and do for all the family. The museum recently opened a new 1950s exhibition with homes, a Coronation park and a community centre. This is such a lovely spot to take older parents and grandparents, as many of these homes mirror the places they grew up across the region.
If you recently went to Beamish at Christmas, for example, your ticket will last for the full year. So, this is a great day out - whether you’re local or visiting the region for a holiday.
It’s safe to say the region isn’t short of historic places to stay! Popular holiday spots in County Durham include Beamish Hall Hotel, Lumley Castle and South Causey Inn. There are also plenty of holiday homes and guest houses in the surrounding villages and towns.
Are you planning a holiday in the North East this year? Let me know your favourite places to stay over on Instagram @Joanne.Wishart.Art.