NORTHUMBRIA

Northumberland is pretty much characterised by windswept moorlands and the rolling Cheviot Hills. It is also home to Hadrian's Wall, that impressive Roman defensive rampart built between AD122 and AD133 to keep out bothersome neighbours to the north.

One of the best preserved forts along the Wall's length is at Housteads, and there are others at Hexham and Vindolanda.

The other great treasure of Northumberland is Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island. Such is the religious mystique behind Lindisfarne that it's probably likely a good many people around the world have heard of the Priory with its precariously suspended 'Rainbow Arch' but haven't the foggiest notion where Northumberland is. The ruins of the Priory are reached by walking across a causeway to Holy Island during low tide. There's also a castle on Holy Island.

Northumberland is littered with ruined castles - a legacy of centuries of fighting for ownership of the border territories. Turner painted 14th century Dunstanburgh Castle with its jagged fingers of ruined walls. The castle is reached by a coastal path which runs northwards from the small village of Craster.

The small village of Warkworth is home to a magnificent 14th century castle (and added to over the centuries) which stands above the River Coquet. It's got lots of dark corners to explore.

Perhaps Northumberland's most famous castle - mainly because it's red sandstone outline has been painted so many times - is Bambugh Castle. For anyone interested in sea birds there's a nature reserve at Budle Bay close to Bamburgh. Bird fanciers can also brave a three to four mile boat journey out the the Farne Islands which has an abundance of sea birds. Boats leave from Seahouses.

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