Northumberland is home to an awesome array of natural attractions, including glorious views of the sky at night afforded by the lack of light pollution.
You’ll find yourself amid wondrous wildlife habitats and stunning scenery, including a coastline designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a National Park providing plenty of the great outdoors!
Northumberland International Dark Sky Park
The Northumberland International Dark Sky Park is Europe’s largest area of protected night sky. Awarded gold tier designation by the International Dark Sky Association, it’s the fourth largest in the world, joining the likes of Death Valley and Big Bend Dark Sky Parks in the USA.
The observatory itself is powered by solar panels and a wind turbine. There are loads of fascinating talks, classes and events specially designed for families.
The best time for stargazing is during the autumn and winter. Simply take a pair of binoculars, a deckchair or two and a hot drink in a flask and then and sit back, look up, and contemplate the wonder of the universe. There is nowhere else like it!
Kielder Water and Forest Park, Kielder
Get back to nature in all its glory at Kielder. From woodland to bogs to marshy grasslands and sandy shores, there’s a whole host of flora and fauna. You might spot badgers and roe deer, shrews, up to seven species of bat, otters and many different birds of prey.
This is also where 50 per cent of the UK’s red squirrel population live. There is a dedicated hide created for those who want to catch a glimpse of this endangered and most elusive creature. You can even go on a red squirrel safari!
You won’t want to miss the wildlife garden in Leaplish Waterside Park either, with its raised pond, butterfly-shaped bed, drought and bog gardens and nest box demonstration area. There are adders, stoats, all manner of amphibians, dragonflies and butterflies galore, and not far away is the Kielder Water Birds of Prey Centre.
The Farne Islands, Seahouses
The Farne Islands are one of Europe’s most important seabird sanctuaries. 23 different bird species call these rocky isles their home, including around 37,000 pairs of puffins, eider ducks, guillemots, razorbills, and four species of tern. It’s also home to a grey sea colony, with more than 1,000 pups born each autumn!
The islands themselves have the most fantastical names, such as Elbow, Blue Caps, Nameless and Fang. Many are submerged at high tide, and to reach them you must take a boat from Seahouses harbour. As you bob your way across the waves, listening to the seabirds call and looking across to Bamburgh Castle in the distance, you’ll quickly realise the journey is taking you to a different world.
There is an easy access boardwalk to help you get onshore when you arrive, a visitor centre, a medieval pele tower and a Victorian lighthouse. But really, it’s the wildlife that attracts. The famed nature broadcaster David Attenborough declared the Farne Islands as his favourite place in the UK to see “magnificent nature” at its best.