Why Alnwick is fast becoming a popular short break destination


April 8, 2013 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Destination Guide


The delightful market town of Alnwick in Northumberland is fast becoming a highly popular short break destination, and when you visit you will soon discover why. The town is home to the magnificent Alnwick Castle and the inspired Alnwick Garden. It also has one of the largest second hand bookshops in the UK – Barter Books which is housed in the town’s old railway station.

Regional Cottages have the best selection of cottages in Alnwick to rent with a dozen or more in the town and many others in the surrounding area. Sykes Cottages have a few cottages in the town and several nearby. English Country Cottages also have a few cottages in the surrounding area including a 5 Star cottage.

The castle dominates Alnwick. It is one of the most stunning fortified buildings in Europe and one of the largest inhabited castles in England. Not surprisingly it is known as The Windsor of the North. The castle has stood over the town since medieval times and you may recognise it from its recent starring role as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series of films.

Beyond the castle is the fabulous Alnwick Garden which is a joy not just for keen gardeners but also families and warrants a full day’s visit itself. Cleverly designed with lots of opportunities for the kids to get wet and play, the gardens are of great interest horticulturally.  Children can collect water in the mini tractors, paddle in the rills, see the many ways water can move in the Serpent Garden and dodge the Grand Cascade’s jets. Plus, there’s also one of the world’s largest wooden tree houses to explore.

Alnwick originally prospered as a medieval market town, and it still retains many of its cobbled streets, narrow alleys and fine stone buildings which now house a range of specialist shops. Barter Books has the most extensive collection of books to suit all ages, enormous and yet cosy – with open fires – it provides a convivial atmosphere to browse in a leisurely manner. Some have called it The British Library of second-hand bookshops.

Just a few miles from Alnwick you can find mile upon mile of empty sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see, punctuated by picturesque coastal villages such as Craster – famed for its kippers – and Alnmouth. From Seahouses, tourist boats leave for the Farne Islands. This group of low-lying, uninhabited rocks is home to millions of seabirds including puffins, shags and guillemots, as well as colonies of seals. Along the coast there are also several impressive medieval castles some, like Bamburgh, occupied others, such as Dunstanburgh, now hauntingly ruined.

A short country drive from Alnwick is Chillingham with its fascinating castle. The grounds are home to the only remaining herd of truly wild cattle in the country. These magnificent white beasts of ancient bloodline roam the parkland at will, free from interference by man.

A little further afield, Northumberland possesses other historic sites aplenty. Roman remains abound along the World Heritage site of Hadrian’s Wall, while lying just off the coast to which it is linked by tidal causeway is Lindisfarne (Holy Island), cradle of English Christianity.

For lovers of the great outdoors there is plenty to do around Alnwick. To the north are the lonely Cheviot Hills, their bare summits forming a natural barrier between England and Scotland and offering fantastic opportunities for walkers and mountain bikers. To the west lies a wilderness landscape which forms the Northumbria National Park with Kielder Water at its heart. This is Europe’s largest man-made lake, the perfect location for water sports which range from water-skiing to fishing.

My pick of the cottages in Alnwick to rent

cottages in Alnwick to rent choice

Cobbler’s Cottage is a beautiful stone-built cottage tucked behind the market square within the heart of Alnwick. It is one of a pair of holiday cottages that have been completely refurbished throughout and simply ooze style.  Cobbler’s Cottage is the larger of the two and is immaculately presented with an open plan living /dining / kitchen space on the ground floor and two bedrooms and contemporary bathroom on the first. Click here for more details.