Top 5 Places to Visit in North East of England
The North East of England is a hidden gem, offering a plethora of stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. From breathtaking coastlines to charming market towns, this region has something for everyone. Here are the top 5 places that you should not miss when exploring the North East of England.
1. Durham Cathedral and Castle:
Durham Cathedral and Castle are two iconic landmarks located in the historic city of Durham in North East England. These magnificent structures stand side by side on a rocky hilltop overlooking the River Wear, dominating the city’s skyline. With their rich history and stunning architecture, Durham Cathedral and Castle attract visitors from all over the world.
Durham Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham, is a masterpiece of Norman architecture. It was built in the late 11th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cathedral’s design features intricate stone carvings, towering ribbed vaults, and magnificent stained glass windows. The central tower, called the Lantern Tower, is particularly impressive as it reaches a height of 66 meters and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Inside the cathedral, visitors can marvel at the impressive Rose Window, situated in the eastern wall of the North Transept. This stunning stained glass window depicts biblical scenes and figures from the 19th century. Another highlight is the tomb of Saint Cuthbert, the patron saint of Durham, located in the elaborately decorated Feretory. The Great Kitchen, one of the oldest intact surviving monastic kitchens in the world, is also worth a visit. It features a stunning vaulted ceiling and houses a collection of medieval kitchenware.
Just a stone’s throw away from the cathedral stands Durham Castle, which was constructed shortly after the cathedral. The castle originally served as a palace for the Bishop of Durham, with its commanding position overlooking the city emphasizing the bishop’s power and authority. Today, Durham Castle is part of Durham University, and many of its rooms are used by students and staff.
The castle’s imposing keep, known as the Norman Chapel, is a must-see. It is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe and retains many original features, including a beautifully carved wooden ceiling and an ornate stone fireplace. The Norman Chapel also houses a collection of religious art and artifacts from the medieval period.
Visitors to Durham Castle can explore the Black Staircase, which leads to the Great Hall. The walls of the Great Hall are adorned with portraits of past bishops and kings, creating a sense of grandeur. Adjoining the Great Hall is the Bishop’s Dining Room, which showcases stunning rococo-inspired plasterwork on its ceiling.
Both Durham Cathedral and Castle offer a wide range of events and activities throughout the year. The cathedral hosts daily services, including choir recitals, and holds special events such as concerts and exhibitions. The castle often holds guided tours, where visitors can explore the castle’s grounds and hear fascinating stories about its history.
When visiting Durham, make sure to climb the 325 steps of the cathedral’s tower for panoramic views of the city and the River Wear. The cathedral and castle also boast beautiful gardens and outdoor spaces, perfect for a leisurely stroll and a moment of tranquility amidst the bustling city.
In conclusion, Durham Cathedral and Castle are not only architectural marvels but also symbols of the city’s rich history and heritage. Whether you are interested in medieval architecture, religious art, or simply want to soak in the serene atmosphere, a visit to Durham Cathedral and Castle is an unforgettable experience.
2. Alnwick Castle and Gardens: Known as the “Windsor of the North,” Alnwick Castle is a magnificent medieval fortress that will transport you back in time. This iconic castle has been featured in numerous films and television series, including the famous Harry Potter films. Explore its grand halls and enchanting gardens, which are home to various rare plant species. Enthusiastic visitors can even take part in broomstick training, inspired by the magical world of Hogwarts.
3. Hadrian’s Wall: A Remarkable Wonder of Ancient Rome
Hadrian’s Wall, a magnificent monument stretching across northern England, is an awe-inspiring testament to the engineering prowess of the ancient Romans. This iconic structure stands as a symbol of Rome’s imperial might and the significance it held in shaping the region’s history. Spanning approximately 73 miles (117 kilometers) from coast to coast, this extraordinary fortification is a UNESCO World Heritage site and attracts visitors from around the globe. Let’s delve into the fascinating history and impressive features of Hadrian’s Wall.
Construction of Hadrian’s Wall began in AD 122 and was completed in just six years. Named after the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who ordered its construction, this massive structure marked the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain. The wall was built to defend against the potential invasions by northern barbarian tribes, primarily the Picts from Caledonia (modern-day Scotland).
The wall spanned from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea in the east to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea in the west. It was a strategic masterpiece, incorporating various elements such as milecastles, forts, turrets, and a wide ditch known as the Vallum. Throughout its length, several forts were constructed to house soldiers who patrolled and protected the wall. The most famous of these forts is Housesteads, which boasts the best-preserved remains today.
At its peak, Hadrian’s Wall stood at an impressive height of around 15 feet (4.6 meters) and was up to 10 feet (3 meters) wide. Made primarily of stone, quarried from nearby areas, the wall was a formidable barrier that stretched across challenging terrain, including hills, valleys, and rivers. Various archaeologists believe that the wall was at least partially plastered and possibly painted, enhancing both its strength and aesthetic appeal.
One of the notable features of Hadrian’s Wall was its milecastles, which were small forts located at one-mile intervals along the wall. These milecastles were the backbone of Roman patrol and communication systems. They were manned by a small garrison of troops responsible for maintaining security and surveillance. Together with the turrets, these milecastles demonstrated the Romans’ meticulous planning and organizational skills.
In addition to the milecastles, the wall also incorporated larger forts known as “milefortlets” every five Roman miles (about 4.8 miles or 7.8 kilometers). These fortified structures housed a larger garrison and served as major administrative centers. Interestingly, Hadrian’s Wall had a total of 16 forts, including the famed Housesteads, Vindolanda, and Birdoswald. These forts supported not only military activities but also trade and civilian life.
Hadrian’s Wall, apart from its defensive capabilities, provided an insight into the social and economic aspects of Roman Britain. The wall was not a solid, continuous barrier but rather a dynamic entity. It was a transit point, enabling the movement of people, goods, and ideas between the frontier zone and the rest of the empire. It created a sense of Roman identity and control, fostering a gradual Romanization process among the locals. Traces of soldiers’ barracks, bathhouses, shops, and even brothels have been unearthed along the wall, underscoring the diverse activities that thrived within its vicinity.
While the primary function of the wall was to deter invasions, it did not entirely prevent occasional conflicts. Despite its imposing structure, Hadrian’s Wall had several small breaches during its occupation. However, these breaches were quickly repaired, and the wall continued to serve its purpose for nearly three centuries. Eventually, the Roman Empire’s decline led to the wall’s abandonment in the early 5th century AD.
Today, Hadrian’s Wall remains an enduring symbol of Roman influence and architectural brilliance, attracting history enthusiasts, hikers, and tourists from all corners of the globe. The wall’s well-preserved sections can be explored through various walking trails, offering visitors an insightful journey back in time. The forts and ruins along the wall continue to yield significant archaeological discoveries, shedding light on ancient Roman military tactics and daily life.
In conclusion, Hadrian’s Wall stands as an extraordinary testament to the architectural genius and strategic vision of the ancient Romans. Its massive scale, combined with its historical and cultural significance, make it an unparalleled landmark. As we walk in the footsteps of those who patrolled this frontier, we can appreciate the sheer engineering brilliance that created such a remarkable wonder of the ancient world.
Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, is a small tidal island located off the northeast coast of England. It is situated in Northumberland, close to the border with Scotland. Lindisfarne holds immense historical, religious, and cultural significance as it was the site of the influential medieval monastery of Lindisfarne Priory. The island attracts visitors from all over the world who are drawn to its breathtaking scenery, spiritual heritage, and unique wildlife.
One of the highlights of Lindisfarne is the ancient ruins of the Lindisfarne Priory, an important center of Christianity in Anglo-Saxon times. Founded by Saint Aidan in AD 635, it served as a base for the Christianization of Northumbria. The priory flourished, becoming a renowned center for learning and the arts. However, its prominence was threatened by Viking invasions in the 8th and 9th centuries. The monks were eventually forced to flee and carried with them the precious Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the most beautiful and important illuminated manuscripts in existence. Today, visitors can explore the ruins of the priory and imagine the monastic life that once thrived here.
Aside from its historical significance, Holy Island is also known for its stunning natural beauty. The island is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including a variety of bird species. It is a designated National Nature Reserve and a popular spot for birdwatching. During the winter months, thousands of migratory birds make their way to the island, including barnacle geese and pale-bellied brent geese. The island’s coastal habitats and its position within the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty make Lindisfarne a haven for nature enthusiasts.
To access Lindisfarne, visitors must be aware of the island’s tidal nature. The only road to the island is submerged twice a day during high tide, making it essential to plan the visit according to the tide times. There is a safe crossing for pedestrians and vehicles that is open for a few hours each day. It is advisable to consult tide tables or local information before making the journey to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. The crossing itself holds its own charm, allowing visitors to witness the transformation of the island from a secluded sanctuary to a flourishing tourist destination.
Once on the island, there are numerous activities and attractions to explore. The picturesque village offers charming shops, traditional pubs, and cozy accommodations for those looking to stay overnight. Stroll along the quaint streets, soak in the serene atmosphere, and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding coastline.
Another must-visit site on Lindisfarne is the Lindisfarne Castle, located atop a dramatic volcanic mound called Beblowe Crag. Built in the 16th century as a fortification, the castle has undergone several transformations throughout its history. It was eventually restored by famed architect Edwin Lutyens in the early 20th century and became a holiday home for Edward Hudson, the founder of Country Life magazine. Now owned by the National Trust, the castle is open to the public, offering tours that provide an insight into its fascinating history and panoramic views from its battlements.
Lastly, Lindisfarne is also renowned for its vibrant arts and crafts community. Visitors can browse through art galleries and craft studios, showcasing the work of local artists inspired by the island’s natural beauty. From paintings and sculptures to handmade jewelry and ceramics, there is something to suit every taste and interest.
In conclusion, Lindisfarne is a historically significant and visually stunning destination that captivates visitors with its rich heritage and breathtaking scenery. Whether it is exploring the ancient ruins of the Lindisfarne Priory, observing the diverse wildlife, admiring the views from Lindisfarne Castle, or immersing oneself in the vibrant arts and crafts community, there is no shortage of experiences to enjoy on this unique island. So, plan your visit and embark on a journey to Lindisfarne to discover its many wonders.
5. Newcastle upon Tyne:
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne, often simply referred to as Newcastle, is a vibrant city in the northeastern part of England. It is the largest city in North East England and the eighth most populous city in the United Kingdom. Located on the northern bank of the River Tyne, the city has a rich history, stunning architecture, and is renowned for its friendly locals.
One of the most iconic landmarks in Newcastle is the Tyne Bridge. This majestic structure, built in 1928, connects Newcastle with its neighboring town of Gateshead. With its distinctive arches, the Tyne Bridge offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the River Tyne. It has become an emblem of Newcastle and is a must-visit spot for tourists.
Newcastle is also famous for its vibrant nightlife and thriving entertainment scene. The city boasts a wide range of bars, pubs, clubs, and music venues, making it a popular destination for party-goers and music enthusiasts. The Diamond Strip, located in the city center, is particularly well-known for its trendy nightclubs and glamorous bars. Whether you’re looking for a wild night out or a laid-back evening listening to live music, Newcastle has something for everyone.
The history of Newcastle upon Tyne dates back to Roman times when it was a key military and trading outpost. The city grew rapidly during the Industrial Revolution, becoming a major center for coal mining and shipbuilding. The remnants of this industrial heritage can still be seen today. The Discovery Museum, located in the former Co-operative Wholesale Society building, provides an insight into the city’s industrial past. Visitors can explore interactive exhibits that showcase Newcastle’s achievements in science, technology, and design.
For those interested in cultural experiences, Newcastle has a wealth of museums and art galleries to explore. The Laing Art Gallery houses an impressive collection of British art, including works by renowned artists such as Turner, Gainsborough, and Constable. The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, located on the south bank of the River Tyne, showcases cutting-edge contemporary art exhibitions and offers stunning views of the city.
If you’re a football fan, a visit to St James’ Park is a must. Home to Newcastle United Football Club, one of England’s most famous and historic football teams, the stadium has a capacity of over 52,000 spectators. Attending a match at St James’ Park is an exhilarating experience, as the passionate fans create an electric atmosphere.
In addition to its vibrant city life, Newcastle is also surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes. The city is located within close proximity to stunning coastal areas such as Tynemouth and Whitley Bay, where visitors can enjoy sandy beaches, picturesque harbors, and delicious seafood. Newcastle is also a gateway to the breathtaking Northumberland National Park, which offers scenic hiking trails, historical sites, and the iconic Hadrian’s Wall.
In conclusion, Newcastle upon Tyne is a vibrant city with a rich history, stunning architecture, and a bustling cultural scene. Whether you’re interested in exploring its historical landmarks, indulging in its lively nightlife, or immersing yourself in its art and cultural offerings, Newcastle has something for everyone. With its friendly locals and beautiful surrounding landscapes, it truly is a gem in the northeast of England.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or a culture seeker, the North East of England has an abundance of treasures waiting to be discovered. From ancient castles to picturesque coastline, this region offers a diverse range of experiences. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to explore the top 5 places in the North East of England and create memories that will last a lifetime.