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Northumberland - A view from our expert author
From the Cheviot Hills to the Pennine moors; through England’s largest forest and across the empty beaches of Ross Back Sands and Druridge Bay – miles and miles of raw upland and coastal scenery beneath the most star-filled skies you will see anywhere.
There are six areas in which Northumberland excels: castles, heather moorland, industrial heritage, Roman architecture, sandy beaches and solitude. I can think of many more (prehistoric rock art, bridges, salmon rivers, railways, upland birds, waterfalls, Georgian architecture and fishing villages) but those are the six that really stand out.
Regarding solitude: a glance at a night sky map of England shows that the northeastern shank of the country is sparsely inhabited and supremely bleak in places. From the Cheviot Hills to the Pennine moors; through England’s largest forest and across the empty beaches of Ross Back Sands and Druridge Bay; over the rugged hills of Redesdale and the wild Whin Sill escarpment where the Roman emperor Hadrian built his wall – miles and miles of raw upland and coastal scenery beneath the most star-filled skies you will see anywhere.
Here you can hunker down in the dunes or walk all day through the heather and see only a handful of people on your trip; pitch a tent undisturbed on the fells; experience a private viewing of a hen harrier skydancing; take the plunge butt-naked in a Cheviot waterfall; and get up early and see Hadrian’s Wall ribboned across the hills without another rambler in sight.
The poet W H Auden, who dearly loved the North East’s fells, isolation and climate, wrote in an article for House and Garden in 1947: ‘the North of England was the Never-Never Land of my dreams . . . the wildly exciting frontier where the alien south ends and the north, my world, begins.’ That sense of escape and wildness is undoubtedly the region’s greatest appeal.
Bradt on Britain – our Slow Travel approach
Bradt’s coverage of Britain’s regions makes ‘Slow Travel’ its focus. To us, Slow Travel means ditching the tourist ticklists – deciding not to try to see ‘too much’ – and instead taking time to get properly under the skin of a special region. You don’t have to travel at a snail’s pace: you just have to allow yourself to savour the moment, appreciate the local differences that create a sense of place, and celebrate its food, people and traditions.