Karen is passionate about all things Northumberland and feels privileged to be able to live and work in this stunning Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, considered by so many visitors to be the perfect place in which to spend their precious holiday time.
Living in the seaside village of Beadnell, she has enjoyed her role as regional office manager for almost two decades now! Relishing a vital role in the unique challenge of creating and establishing the Northumbrian Cottages brand, Karen remains enthusiastic about promoting the region to tourists. Here are some of her top tips for holidaymakers:
What’s your favourite thing about living and working in this area?
Having the very best of both worlds! With easy access to explore the beautiful 20-mile stretch of Heritage coastline to the east and the wild and lonely expanses of the heather-capped Cheviot Hills to the west. Living right on the seashore gives me such pleasure, strolling along the beach with my husband and daughters (not forgetting Tilly, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) at the end of the day.
If someone is looking for an action-packed holiday, what are the best activities to try in the area?
Kielder Water & Forest Park to the west of the county is home to the largest man-made lake in Northern Europe. Cradled by the Forest Park it offers an abundance of outdoor pursuits, such as zip wires, high ropes courses, mountain bike routes and a number of boating activities on the lake. While you’re there, make sure not to miss the impressive Kielder Observatory, dedicated in honour of Sir Patrick Moore. It’s a magical experience under what are widely recognised as the finest dark skies in England.
If people are travelling with children, which attractions would you recommend?
With so many castles in the region, there’s ample opportunity for children to imagine themselves as King or Queen for the day. It’s always worth checking events calendars in advance as English Heritage often organises engaging activities for young ones and older ones alike! Alnwick Castle, the film set for Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Academy, is a particularly popular day out.
Where’s best to go for culture vultures?
In addition to all of the castles, there are also numerous National Trust properties to discover, such as Cragside, Wallington Hall and the fascinating Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Barter Books in the heart of Alnwick is one of the largest second hand book shop in Britain and a personal favourite!
What’s your favourite place for local food?
If you’re a fan of fresh fish, then you’re in for a treat in Northumberland. Some of the region’s best fish and chips is available in Seahouses. Alternatively, you can try The Mizen Head in Bamburgh, which specialises in a stylish range of seafood dishes that are a great way to celebrate a special occasion!
Are there any must-try local pubs or breweries?
I’m a red wine girl myself but there are certainly some very popular pubs and breweries in the region! The Ship Inn at Low Newton-by-the-Sea boasts its own micro-brewery on site and even bottles its own ales. Alternatively, Alnwick Rum, Alnwick IPA and Alnwick Gold are all worth trying. For a taste of something different, I’d recommend Lindisfarne Mead, which is a fortified alcoholic wine manufactured on Holy Island using a historic, honey-based recipe.
In your opinion, what is the most scenic spot in the area?
If it’s glorious countryside vistas that you yearn for, then head to Corby Crags on the road between Alnwick and Rothbury. Watching the sun set over the Cheviot Hills is really stunning. If you prefer a wide expanse of golden sands, then the beaches of Bamburgh and Beadnell Bay are hard to beat at sunrise.
Why should holidaymakers come to the region?
With Northumberland’s history, culture and so many attractions, you can ask why would you not? There’s something for everyone. Whether you’re climbing in the hills in search of peace and tranquillity, or having a picnic on the idyllic golden sandy beaches for a traditional seaside family holiday, these are memories in the making. Are the folk here canny? Whey Aye!