I love to write about the North East of England, my birthplace, I am sure you can tell by now. Reason being I feel this fabulous part of the United Kingdom looses out to bigger cities or more famous/well known places. There is just so much to offer the traveller or tourist alike up in this region, this is why when I am not travelling abroad I am exploring more of the North East, I myself still have parts to see. This blog is going to concentrate on forts & castles in the region which are all English Heritage sites to which I am a member, I have hand picked a few that I believe are essential to see if and when you come to visit! Feel free to contact me for any more information on the North East.
These 4 places are definitely worth exploring, whether it be for their history, the setting or their amazing views.
Tynemouth Castle & Priory
Tynemouth Castle & Priory is located in Tynemouth itself, at the bottom of the main street overlooking the coast and the North Sea. The large site stands dominant on the headland, offering beautiful views for all to see. It is easy to find and about a 20 minute car ride from Newcastle City Centre, you can also take the metro from Newcastle to Tynemouth too!
This was once one of the largest fortified areas in England. It was founded in the early 7th century, by Edwin of Northumbria, with a 2000 year history Tynemouth Castle & Priory is a perfect day out for everyone, young and old. Learn about it’s beginnings as an Anglo Saxon settlement, a royal castle and artillery fort! It played a very important role in the two world wars as there is a gun battery built into the cliff, which was used to defend the Tyne. Currently some restoration is taking place of one of the gun cannons, which you can see when you visit.
My top tip would be to enjoy some fish and chips after you have visited the castle & priory, there are several places on Tynemouth main street, I recommend Longsands Fish Kitchen for takeaway fish and chips with a can of Irn Bru, as I truly believe they need to be eaten outside by the coast for the perfect experience.
Opening Times & Prices–
Members go FREE
Family of 4 (2 Adults, 3 Children) £14.60
Overseas visitor passes are available online
Chesters Roman Fort
Chesters Roman Fort is located in Chollerford near Hexham. It is the ruins of a Roman fort built on Hadrian’s Wall, in order to protect the border and is now preserved by the English Heritage. Out of all of the Roman Forts Chesters is the most complete Roman Cavalry Fort in Britain, you can enjoy a leisurely walk around the fort taking in the baths and steam room plus the officers quarters. There is also a museum on the site called the Clayton Museum, named after John Clayton who was a wealthy landowner. He started excavating Chesters in the 1840’s. This houses a great collection of Roman objects and artefacts.
At the moment there is a special exhibit at Chesters to celebrate the 30 th anniversary of the inscription of Hadrian’s Wall onto the UNESCO World Heritage List and the 1900 th anniversary of the accession of Hadrian to the Roman Imperial throne, it is called Cavalry 360, ‘Bringing Horses Back To Chesters’. This is a bespoke piece of work designed to connect the visitor with the environment, it is a large installation of wind driven turbines, arranged in pairs to sound like running horses and recreating what it would have been like many many years ago.
My tip at Chesters is to enjoy a cuppa after wandering the fort ruins and museum at Chesters Tearoom. Enjoy!
Opening Times & Prices
Free for English Heritage members
Child (5-15) £3.70
Dunstanburgh Castle is located in between Craster and Embleton Villages, near Alnwick. If you park at the main car park as you enter Craster itself, you can walk along the coastal route to the castle. It is just over 2 miles to the castle and takes around 40/45 mins to walk depending on how fast you walk of course…
Dunstanburgh Castle is a 14th Century fortification on the stunningly beautiful Northumberland Coast, in North East England. It stands prominently on the headland, like Tynemouth Priory. It’s origins date back to 1313 when the fortress was built, at a time of hostility between King Edward the II and Earl Thomas of Lancaster, who was his most powerful baron. It was Lancaster that began the build, wanting it to be as grand as possible as a symbol of his own opposition to the king. He didn’t reach Dunstanburgh however, when his rebellion was defeated, he was executed in 1322. The castle then went to John of Gaunt, who strengthened it by converting the gatehouse into a keep, in defence against the scots! Due to years of fighting and wars, it fell into decay.
My top tips whilst visiting are to climb as far as you can top the castle for the most spectacular views, not for the faint hearted and enjoy the walk there and back to Craster taking in the Northumberland Coast and the views of the Castle, perfect for a picture and treasured memory. When back in Craster go and buy some of their famous kippers at L Robson & Sons Ltd, the traditional fish smokers, they are the best!!
Opening Times & Prices
Members are FREE
Child (5-15) £3
Family (2 Adults, 3 Children) £13
Overseas passes are available online.
Barnard Castle’ Castle is situated in Barnard Castle itself, I know don’t try and say that too fast! A town in County Durham named the same name. The castle is a ruined medieval castle, named after it’s 12th century founder, Bernard de Balliol. After him, Barnard Castle was developed by the Beauchamp family and later passed into the hands of Richard the III. It sits on a high rock overlooking the River Tees, the views of Barnard Castle town also known as ‘Barney’ by the locals and the Tees Gorge are lovely, very picture worthy!
After looking around the castle grounds and ruins, pop into the sensory garden to see some scented plants. You will not be disappointed as after your visit you can go and have a wander around Barnard Castle itself, the shops and local cafes, restaurants.
Barnard Castle’ Castle is Scheduled Ancient Monument and was given the status of a Grade 1 listed building in 1950.
My top tip is to enjoy coffee and a cake in Barnard Castle town and be sure to look up Bowes Museum further down the road, it is worth a visit!
Opening Times & Prices
FREE to Members
Child (5-15) £3.20
The North East of England has so much to offer in way of local history and culture, this post is merely scratching the surface. I urge you if you haven’t yet been here add it to your list, you won’t regret it.