The northern county with the magic touch
British breaks: Northumberland
Sunday 11 October 2009
Haltwhistle – the geographical centre of Britain – is holding its 14th Walking Festival (halt whistle.org) until 18 October.
Walk the beautiful Haltwhistle Burn Gorge, which leads from the town centre up to Hadrian's Wall National Trail, covering the most complete and highest section of this World Heritage site. Other guided trails, from one to 17 miles, explore the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the town itself and the remote South Tyne Valley.
Alnwick Castle (alnwick castle.com) is now famous as Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books. But since filming ended, a deep and dark new dungeon has been discovered in the bowels of the castle. On 29 and 30 October it will host a mysterious professor who will be holding some explosive potion-mixing classes for children, and telling chilling tales twice daily at 2pm and 3.30pm. And the Duchess of Northumberland is inviting diners to put on their best fancy dress for a Halloween evening in the Treehouse restaurant at the Alnwick Garden (alnwickgarden.com) on 31 October. A themed menu will be served, followed by a spooky tour.
The Wallington Food and Craft Festival at Wallington House (nationaltrust.org.uk) celebrates produce from Northumbria and Cumbria on 17 and 18 October (10am to 5pm). The property, which sits in Border Reiver moorland, contains huge pre-Raphaelite paintings, an intriguing Cabinet of Curiosities and a collection of dolls' houses. The gardens are sensational, too.
The 7th Kielder Forest Star Camp (kielderobservatory.org) for serious astronomers will be staged over five nights from 14 October. It's organised by the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society which runs the new £480,000 observatory, built 1,270 feet above England's most remote village. You can use the facility from 2pm to 4pm on 15 to 17 October.
See the sights
Follow the Lowry Trail (berwick-pt .co.uk) in Berwick-upon-Tweed and discover why this was the artist's favourite holiday destination. The six-mile walk passes 18 points of interest where easel-shaped boards display Lowry paintings produced in the town.
Active4Seasons (active4 seasons.co.uk) does trips and training courses in England's final wilderness where, if you're lucky, you can spot otters, grey seals, basking shark, minke whales, dolphin and porpoise.
Download a free cycle map (northumberland.gov.uk) to explore the county's scenery on two wheels. A variety of routes are offered, including the northern stretch of the Pennine Cycleway and a route along the coast with great views of Bamburgh Castle and out to the island of Lindisfarne.
Check out the Pitman Painters (the subject of Lee Hall's recent hit play) at Woodhorn Museum, Archive and Country Park, near Ashington (experiencewoodhorn.com). You'll also be able to learn about pit life in Coal Town.
For more ideas and accommodation suggestions go to visitnorthumberland.com
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