Scenic Northumberland in Northeast England offers so much variety for tourists. Friendly towns, bustling cities and quaint villages blend with stunning scenery. Its historic sites sit comfortably with an unspoiled North Sea coast of outstanding natural beauty. Castles dominate along with sheltered bays, award-winning sandy beaches, caves and two nature reserves.
For backpackers, the Northumberland Coastal Path – forming part of the International North Sea Trail – runs for 64 miles, a comfortable hike of around six days. For watersports enthusiasts, the region serves up plenty of choices year in, year out. Among them, kayaking on the county’s rivers and along the rugged coastline is very popular.
Adventure Northumberland – based in Alnwick – offers kayak tours of the rugged North Sea coast, and for the truly adventurous, kayak surfing. Their experienced guides will help develop your skills whether novice or seasoned, and their tours – on tandem seat kayaks – will give you a unique view of the stunning Northumberland coast. For full details go to www.adventurenorthumberland.co.uk.
Active4seasons in Berwick upon Tweed, is an ideal option whether you are just starting out, are more experienced or advanced. The area’s rivers are a great classroom for kayak enthusiasts of all abilities, and Active4seasons will provide first class tuition. For a real adrenalin rush, try sea kayaking. The coastal area around Berwick provides some great locations to polish up your skills or learn from scratch.
For the more experienced, kayak trips to the Farne Islands with their abundant wildlife, run in April and August. The Islands are around two miles off the Northumberland coast and as well as being a major sea bird sanctuary, are also home to a large colony of grey seals. A challenge to get to, but so rewarding once there: www.active4seasons.co.uk has more details.
In Southeast Northumberland, the Blyth Kayak Club – a recreational club run by volunteers – offers a warm welcome for all ages and skill levels. They have a full calendar of events including indoor pool sessions in winter and club camps every summer. One of their specialities is flat water paddling which is a great way for beginners to learn the ropes and gain valuable BCU awards. For the more adventurous, white water kayaking on the River Tees is very popular, along with competitive paddling in various annual race meetings. For more information, go to www.blythkayakclub.co.uk.
If you prefer to combine your kayaking skills with your annual vacation, Northumberland is an ideal choice. With 80 miles of coastline – including Holy Island – and its many rivers, the county is tailor-made. Accommodation is plentiful. Holiday cottages, dog friendly lodges and barn conversions all guarantee a restful stay. Among them is Sally’s Cottage on Holy Island. Spacious and cozy, it’s where historic past meets present day. The stunning cottage is open year round and ideal for families and couples. Prices start from £450 and the cottage sleeps four: www.holyislandcottages.com has more details.
Northumberland is very much the outdoor enthusiasts county so you’ll never be short of things to do, on or off the water. For more information on “Britain’s best kept secret”, go to www.outdoorsnorthumberland.co.uk.