Up in the North East of England sits one of the quietest yet most beautiful National Parks, Northumberland. Known as the least visited of the National Parks but that would baffle any previous visitor. Taking the time to step inland away from the coast in this area can capture your imagination to the full. Rothbury, a small historic town, sits right on the edge of the National Park itself and from experience I can honestly say it holds it's own in views, history and adventure and that's before springboarding to explore the vast green hills, fields, forests and lakes ahead.
Rising up from one side of the town is the hilltop of Simonside and the crags along the tops. Any walker/hiker of any experience can take in the walks and sights. Car parking gets you close to the top to start with if you wish, plus with all the time in the world, you can enjoy magnificent views back to Rothbury and down the Coquet Valley or the other way over the rolling hills of the National Park. Escapism without effort. Refreshing, head clearing and unique. If you have been you will know what I mean.
Beside Rothbury sits the garden and estate of Cragside. Geeky history buffs, nature lovers and walkers will all find something special here. Lord Armstrong built the family home and today you can see some of the marvels of his inventions during Victorian times. Gadgets galore and lots that were way ahead of their time. Being a very keen gardener and with the house positioned on the side of a cragged hill Lord Armstrong took also his imagination to the land. One of the largest landscaped rock gardens in Europe, one of the oldest iron bridges of it's type in the UK and approximately 40 miles of footpaths through and above the trees. Trim trails, mazes, viewing spots and more and more. Awaiting those making their way to the top are his man made lakes, calmly reflecting the trees in beautiful surroundings. But, their reason? They allowed the house below to be the first in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity! Go explore, great for all the family.
The walks do not stop there and neither do the views. Any side of the valley provides miles of open walks whether going up and over Rothbury Terraces (with a great view across to the Cheviots) or down the river that winds through. All in all you can spend days there and still not see all you need to. Wets the appetite for more and then of course the remaining tens of thousand square miles of the National Park. Good times ahoy as I know I will go for plenty.
The town itself is full of charm, very welcoming and friendly indeed. Specialist shops line the way, art galleries and tea rooms. I would highly recommend the Baileys Latte at Harleys Tea Room .... delicious! :)
For accommodation you cannot go wrong. Linhope House is a 5 star B&B in Rothbury that gives comfort, warmth, relaxation and friendly atmosphere right from the moment you enter. Large lush rooms, wonderful hosts and after each day of exploring the area it becomes a perfect place to relax, rest and relive. The fresh Northumberland grown Full English breakfast is a treat too. Yummy!
If You would like to see more of Paul Steele's ramblings both in Britain and around the world you can follow him on Twitter @paul_steele, his Blog BaldHiker, Huffington Post and more VisitBritain posts