Situated in north-east England, Northumberland is a region steeped in history and legend.
From the dramatic Northumberland National Park, which stretches from the iconic Hadrian’s Wall to the Scottish Borders, and the rugged Cheviot hills, to the coastal Area of Outstanding Beauty, there’s much for dogs and owners to explore.
Dog-friendly days out and attractions in Northumberland...
- Home to northern Europe’s largest man-made lake and England’s largest forest, Kielder Water and Forest Park is in Northumberland National Park. Four-legged visitors are welcome to explore Kielder Water with their owners but need to be on leads around the fishing areas. If you need refreshments after all the walking, the Boat Inn restaurant has an area inside where dogs are welcome. For further information visit www.visitkielder.com or call 0845 155 0236.
- Dogs are welcomed with open arms at Wallington Hall, Cambo, near Morpeth. Although dogs are not allowed inside the mansion house, they are welcome in all the outside areas on leads, including the gardens and walled garden. There are miles of walks through the woods and along the river. Dog water bowls can be found around the site, and home-made dog treats are available to buy from the Clocktower Cafe. If owners forget poo bags they can get some from staff. The National Trust site also invites visitors to send a photo and some details about their dog and their favourite walk at Wallington which will be uploaded to its website. The gardens and grounds at Wallington Hall are open all year round including Christmas Day. For further information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallington
- If you fancy brushing up on a bit of history, why not head to Warkworth Castle — a ruined medieval castle above the River Coquet? Based in the town of Warkworth, the castle was once home to the powerful Percy family and was one of the largest and most impressive fortresses in north-east England. Dogs on leads are able to explore the magnificent ruins with their owners. For opening times and further information call 0870 333 1181 or visit www.english-heritage.org.uk
- The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is a must-visit area of the Northumberland coast. Access to the tidal island is by a paved causeway which vehicles can only cross when the tide is out. People should check the causeway opening times before setting off. Once on the island, there are lots of walks owners can enjoy with their dogs — taking in the sea air and panoramic views — including the mile walk from the car park to Lindisfarne Castle. Lindisfarne Priory, owned by English Heritage, is dog friendly. For further information visit www.lindisfarne.org.uk
Dog-friendly beaches in Northumberland
Northumberland’s coastline encompasses rugged cliffs and sand dunes so it’s no wonder that the 40-mile stretch of coast is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Many of the beaches in Northumberland are dog friendly but it’s best to check before you visit. Druridge Bay, situated between Amble and Cresswell, has miles of sandy beach to explore, and is a popular place with local dog walkers. Another beach worth visiting is Bamburgh beach, where you and your dog can enjoy a breezy walk with the imposing Bamburgh Castle looming in the background.
Ancient Roman remains can be found everywhere in Northumberland, particularly in and around the Hadrian’s Wall area. The Romans relied heavily on watchdogs for protection — a tradition thought to stem from the belief that a three-headed dog guarded the gates of Hell.
They used dogs in battle and trained war dog units. The dogs wore spiked collars and armour, and were released during the first onslaught, in front of soldiers, to attack the legs of the enemy. Breeds used by the Romans are thought to have included the ancestors of breeds such as Rottweilers, Mastiffs, St Bernards, Great Danes, and Wolfhounds, as well as the Saluki and Dachshund.
The Romans were also known for the earliest classification system of dogs, grouping them into the following categories: house dogs, shepherd dogs, sporting dogs, war dogs, scent dogs, and sight dogs.
Dog-friendly places to eat in Northumberland
Pop into Tomlinson’s Cafe and Bunkhouse in the rural town of Rothbury following a day in the great outdoors. Four-legged explorers are welcome inside the cafe where water bowls are provided for thirsty canines. The cafe is located in a historic former schoolhouse and boasts quirky original features mixed with contemporary interiors. The big windows give great views overlooking the River Coquet and surrounding countryside. For further information visit www.tomlinsonrothbury.co.uk
If you’re looking for a traditional English pub, the Robin Hood Inn is an ideal stop-off. Based in East Wallhouses next to the historic towns of Corbridge and Hexham, this pub sits immediately next to Hadrian’s Wall. It has lots of cosy corners and lounges; dogs on leads are welcome with their owners in the bar area. Keep an eye out for the quirky bench carvings; the pub’s oak settles have a character from the turf or the hunt hand-carved into the armrests — a legacy from decades ago when a previous owner was mad about horses and racing. The Robin Hood Inn also has three B&B rooms which are also dog friendly. For further information visit www.robinhoodinn-militaryroad.co.uk
Kielder Water and Forest Park walk guide
Kielder Water and Forest Park has more than 600 square kilometres of forest and 27 miles of shoreline.
The park has the largest expanse of dark night sky in the whole of Europe, thanks to minimal light pollution. Kielder Observatory is located in the heart of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park.
The park has a number of different waymarked trails of varying lengths and for all fitness levels, including routes around the Lakeside Way, which goes all the way around Kielder Reservoir.
Staff at Kielder Water and Forest Park recommended the Duke and Duchess trails as being good routes for dog walkers. Owners can choose to do either one of these walks or combine one after the other.
Owners should ensure that dogs are under control at all times.
- The Duke’s trail is just under three miles in length and will take around one and a half hours to complete. It starts at Kielder Castle visitor centre where walkers should follow the blue waymarkers. It is a pleasant stroll through the grounds of Kielder Castle and the adjacent woodland. There are observation points where birds and Britain’s native red squirrel may be seen. The fi rst mile of the route, which has slight inclines, has a stone and tarmac surface and is suitable for wheelchair users and families with buggies. The remaining two miles is on a mixture of forest road and surfaced path. A sharp descent through Ravenshill Wood means this section of the walk is unsuitable for wheelchair users.
- The Duchess trail is shorter at just under two miles and also starts at Kielder Castle visitor centre. The second Duchess of Northumberland loved to take her pony and trap over the old packhorse bridge to the quieter, more picturesque parts of the estate. This track follows one of her favourite routes — still a magical experience 200 years later. The Duchess trail is on both surfaced and unsurfaced forest paths. Before the old packhorse bridge, the trail passes through two kissing gates. After the bridge are moderate inclines as well as two sets of steps to take visitors to the top of Jamie’s Crags viewpoint.
The fastest route to Kielder Water and Forest Park is via the A69 Carlisle to Newcastle road. From the east, leave at the junction for Corbridge and follow the brown tourist signs on to the A68. From the west, exit the A69 at the turn for Bellingham on the B6320 and follow the brown tourist signs for the forest. If you are travelling from the Scottish Borders you can either take the A68 from Jedburgh and turn on to the Kielder Forest Drive toll road two miles north of Rochester, or follow the B6357 from Bonchester Bridge or Newcastleton to Kielder.