Alnwick (pronounced Ann-ick) is a hidden gem of North East England. It’s a small town located close to the Scottish Borders in the county of Northumberland. I’m biased, growing up in neighbouring Cumbria, and having got married in Alnwick a couple of years ago, but all of our wedding guests loved the place, despite most not having heard of it beforehand! It’s a characterful town surrounded by rugged landscapes perfect for walking and nearby stunning sea-views and coastlines. Here are some reasons why you should visit:
Photo: Alnwick Castle, Ally Hook
The castle was used to film parts of the Harry Potter Films, such as the flying lesson. Dating back to the Norman Conquest, it’s not a castle in ruins and you can look around both the castle and parts of the Stately Home, as well as the castle grounds. There are regular events and exhibitions which take place (some Harry Potter themed!), aimed at both adults and children. You can explore it at your own pace or following a guided tour.
Photos: Alnwick Castle, Ally Hook
The Alnwick Garden
Photo: The Alnwick Garden, Paul Harrison
Next door to the Castle is the Alnwick Garden. The Garden has many different sections or themes, including the Cherry Orchard and the Poison Garden. On entering the Garden, you see the Grand Cascade and other water sculptures- don’t stand too close if you don’t want to get wet! Like the castle, the Garden has different events and displays on at different times of year. We went around Hallowe’en and found lots of spooky additions to the grounds, as well as musical performances.
Photos: The Alnwick Garden, Paul Harrison
Photo: The Alnwick Garden, Beccy Bernamont
Photo: The Alnwick Garden, Elaine Altuccini
Photo: The Treehouse
Close to the entrance of the Garden is the Treehouse Restaurant. This is where we got married and is well worth a visit, even if it’s just to walk around the raised walkways and rope bridge! There is a small bar/cafe area, The Potting Shed, or you can eat in the Restaurant itself. The food is incredible and features a lot of local produce.
Photo: The Treehouse Restaurant & The Potting Shed
Photo: Rope Bridge at The Treehouse, Paul Harrison
Photo: The Treehouse, Verity Barnes
Photo: Barter Books, Luke Dawson
Found close to Alnwick centre, Barter Books is a large second hand bookshop with a book or section for pretty much any topic you can imagine. Also inside is a lovely cafe area and log fires, where you can sit and read to your heart’s content.
Photo: Cafe area, Barter Books
Getting to Alnwick
Because it’s rural in comparison to other parts of England, driving is the easiest and most convenient way to see Alnwick and the surrounding area. If you drive from the South, you’ll drive past the Angel of the North, which you can stop off at and explore.
Photo: Angel of the North, Stuart Young
By train, the nearest mainline train station is in nearby Alnmouth, 4 miles away, with bus services running to Alnwick. The nearest international airport is Newcastle, with Edinburgh a couple of hours away. Bus services, taxis and mobile phone signal can be scarce in the area, depending on the time of year/day/season, so it’s best to plan your journey ahead of time!
The weather on the north east coast tends to be pretty windy, but it’s very variable, meaning that it can be pouring with rain in the morning but blue, clear skies by lunchtime. Whatever the weather, it’s still a stunning place to visit.
These are just a few of my favourite places in Alnwick, there are plenty more and also in the rest of Northumberland.
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Banner Photo: Paul Harrison
Photos either my own or credited to photographers mentioned and used with consent.