Northumberland is home to more castles than any other English county. Below are some of our top picks for groups, all with their own unique charms.
1. The Ford & Etal Estate is home to Etal Castle which is looked after by English Heritage. Built as a defence against Scots raiders the fortified tower house stands in a strategic position by the River Till and the 19th Century Chapel exhibition tells the story of the nearby Battle of Flodden.
2. Bamburgh Castle is a recognisable jewel in Northumberland’s crown. This stunning castle, once the seat of the ancient kings of Northumbria, stands watch on the coast offering amazing views across to Holy Island and the Farne Islands, and features a treasure trove of artefacts inside.
3. A visit to Chillingham Castle is not quickly forgotten. With a reputation as the most haunted castle in England, visitors are enthralled by the dungeons and torture chamber, but it’s not all ghosts and ghouls, the intricate Italian Garden features the longest herbaceous border in Northern England.
4. The White Swan Hotel is ideally situated in the heart of Alnwick, making it a great base to explore from. It has the added benefit of free coach parking and plenty of facilities within walking distance. Eat in the Olympic Restaurant, which is adorned with original features salvaged from RMS Olympic, the Titanic’s sister ship.
5. Still home to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, Alnwick Castle is the 2nd largest inhabited castle in the UK. Recently made famous by its role as a film location in Harry Potter and Downton Abbey, this castle offers a feast of unforgettable experiences with various tour themes available.
6. The impressive cross-shaped keep of Warkworth Castle sits atop a hill above the River Coquet, watching over the village below. Its circuit of towered walls are virtually intact and offer spectacular river and coastal views. The Castle was once home to Harry Hotspur who was immortalised by William Shakespeare as a rebel lord.
7. Belsay Hall is home to one of Northumberland’s lesser known castles. In the grounds of this Greek-revival mansion is a medieval castle whose 14th century pele tower provides a vantage point to take in the stunning views of this rural estate.
Tourist Information Centre
We have 11 Tourist Information Centres across the county.
Hopefully this itinerary has given you some ideas for planning your group visit to Northumberland. If you need any further help, please don’t hesitate to contact Natalie at Northumberland Tourism – your group travel liaison.
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Within half an hour's drive of the Northumberland National Park and Cheviot Hills, the historic border towns of Berwick-upon-Tweed and Kelso, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and magnificent Bamburgh Castle, this privately owned rural estate is the perfect group venue with a range of options for every age and interest, whether visiting for an hour or a whole day.
Spanning nine acres of land on its rocky plateau high above the Northumberland coastline, Bamburgh is one of the largest inhabited castles in the entire country. Explore 14 public areas and learn more about the castle and its inhabitants from over 3,000 items on display, including arms, armour, glass, china, furniture and artwork. Experience the sights, stories and atmosphere of over 2,000 years of exhilarating history.
Remarkable Castle dating back to the 13th century, with Staterooms, Museum, beautiful Italian Garden, Torture Chamber and Dungeon, Woodland Walks, Lake, Gift Shop and Tearoom situated in the Medieval Minstrels' Hall with its large and welcoming log fire, serving delicious homemade food.
Set in the heart of the historic market town of Alnwick and only a stone's throw from Alnwick Castle and Gardens, The White Swan is a charming 300 year old coaching inn that blends its unique heritage with superb accommodation.
Best known for its Olympic Dining Room, you can enjoy dinner surrounded by the magnificent panelling, mirrors and stained glass windows from the First Class Lounge of Titanic's sister ship, RMS Olympic. The White Swan also famously houses the grand staircase from RMS Olympic with its stunning gilt iron work.
The White Swan also houses Hardy's Bistro which is open daily to resident and non residents guests. Hardy's is a more contemporary informal bistro serving a seasonal menu, afternoon tea and refreshment. Hot drinks and ice cream also available to take away. Breakfast is available to non resident guests also served in Hardy's.
The White Swan is perfectly located to explore Northumberland or as a stopover en route to Scotland. Alnwick Castle and Gardens are within walking distance and you are ideally located to explore the magnificent coasts and castles of Northumberland.
Alnwick Castle is the one of the largest inhabited castles in England; it has been home to the Duke of Northumberland’s family, the Percys, for over 700 years.
Combining magnificent medieval architecture with spectacular Italianate State Rooms, Alnwick Castle is one of the UK’s most significant heritage destinations. In recent years, it has taken starring roles in a number of film and television productions, most famously featuring as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter films and as Brancaster Castle in ITV’s Downton Abbey.
Be king or queen for the day in this mighty Northumberland fortress crowning the hilltop above the River Coquet.
Lose yourself at Belsay with its unique combination of Grecian architecture, medieval ruins, formal terraces and lush jungle-esque Quarry Garden.