The Farne Islands are possibly the most exciting seabird colony in England and certainly in North Northumberland, with unrivalled views of many species, including around 40,000 pairs of puffin. They return every year to nest and breed here and you can get up close and personal when you take a boat rip out to the islands. It’s also home to a grey seal colony, with more than 1,000 pups born every autumn. Historically, the islands have strong links with Celtic Christianity and St Cuthbert, who lived here, as well as Lindesfarne, in the 7th Century. There is a medieval pele tower and Victorian lighthouse , plus a visitor centre and easy access boardwalk. The other famous inhabitant was of course Grace Darling who rowed her fathers boat out to the islands and back to the mainland to rescue sailors from a shipwreck. There is a museum dedicated to her heroism in Bamburgh.
Located in the old Alnwick railway station, this is one of the largest second hand bookshops in Europe and has upwards of 200,00 visitors a year, a high proportion of which are from outside the area. It runs a “barter” system whereby customers can, if they wish, exchange books for credit against future purchases. Barter Books was also in the news as being the birthplace of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” phenomenon after a WWII poster from 1939 was discovered in an old book that had been traded.
Ford and Etal
This location has a list of things to do. Ford Castle and Etal Castle are two of the larger attractions with Heatherslaw Mill, one of the few working water wheel powered flour mills in the country and the only one in Northumberland. You can take a tour and see the workings of the mill, visit the wonderful shop with its freshly milled flour and have a break in the coffee shop. Across the river is the Heatherslaw light railway which has regular runs over 6.5k to Etal village. Other attractions nearby are Flodden Field, site of the English victory over the Scots, and Duddo Standing Stones.