Here at Overland Adventures, we prioritise ensuring our customers get the most out of their overland adventure. With over 30 years of experience in the outdoors and a lifetime exploring Northumberland, Scotland and the Lakes, we are confident in our ability to deliver exceptional experiences.

We’re here to help with route ideas and can provide guidance on accommodation options to personalise your trip according to your preferences. Whether you’re interested in wild camping, a touch of glamping, or a journey that encompasses all the highlights.

Here we set out some ideas to help you plan your experience whether that’s a long weekend a mid-week break or a longer trip that might incorporate the occassional night in a hotel or B&B – just to mix it up a bit!

For those of you travelling up to Northumberland to collect your Overland Land Rover Defender from afar there are some fantastic campsites located just a few miles from our headquarters. For instance, Bolam Lake, Kirkhale, and Tranwell are all within a 4-5 mile radius, offering diverse and accredited options for camping. Remember out meet and greet options too – from Newcastle, Teeside or Edinburgh Airports, North Shields Ferry Terminal or regional train stations like Morpeth and Newcastle.

Overland Adventures in Northumberland and beyond aboard your Land Rover Defender Camper

THE 3-DAY ROUTE – NORTHUMBERLAND

Kielder and the Northumberland Coast offer a quick whistle-stop tour, capturing the essence of the region’s highlights. Explore our blog for more details on this 3-day tour.

DAY 1

Beginning from our headquarters, embark on a 45-minute journey to Kielder Water, where you’ll immediately immerse yourself in the beauty of Northumberland. Kielder is a haven for biking and hiking enthusiasts, as well as dog lovers. Our customers enjoy a 15% discount at the excellent campsite managed by Steve, nestled serenely at the lake’s edge with a nearby pub. This site warmly welcomes guests and permits campfires. Kielder boasts Northumberland’s largest man-made reservoir and largest bike park, with a superb hire shop catering to all biking preferences, from novice to expert trails.

DAY 2

Venture toward the coast via the Kielder Forest Drive, where your Land Rover thrives. This scenic drive, one of England’s highest roads spanning 12 miles, demands attention, especially around the corners, yet promises exhilarating fun. Follow the NLAND250 route, showcasing Northumberland’s most picturesque roads. Consider a brief detour to Harthorpe Valley, a secluded gem with tranquil single-track lanes along the river, perfect for a peaceful picnic.

Continue your journey through Ford and Etal, an enchanting area adorned with thatched-roof cottages and abundant activities, including a charming steam railway. Don’t miss the opportunity to cross the ford near Etal Castle for a whimsical experience, weather permitting, but it needs to be a good summers day with little flow as it can be a little dangerous in the wrong conditions.

After departing from Etal, you have the option to continue along the NLAND250 route to Berwick or to cut straight across to the coast and head towards Holy Island, a truly magical place with an enchanting atmosphere.

If you were to drive directly from Kielder to Holy Island, passing through Harthorpe Valley and Etal, the journey would take just under 3 hours. The Causeway leading to Holy Island is remarkably scenic, but it’s crucial to check tide times as access to the island is limited to certain parts of the day. Be sure to watch our video of crossing at sunrise.

For your second night, consider staying at Elwick or Budle Hall. Both offer stunning accommodations; Elwick is a wild camping spot, with no facilities apart from the unbelievable view while Budle Hall provides a luxurious camping experience with only two pitches, each featuring its own deluxe shower and toilet facilities.

DAY 3

You have the option to stay at Kirharle or Bolam Lake, or extend your coastal stay due to the plethora of activities available. The journey back to Overland Adventures HQ from the coast takes approximately 45 minutes.

As you head down the coast, make sure to stop at Bamburgh Castle and Village, known for its exceptional butcher’s shop with its own farm and renowned pies. Bamburgh has been voted the best seaside town in Britain for three consecutive years, and its castle is regarded as one of the finest in the UK.

Continuing onwards, pass through Seahouses and reach Newton by the Sea, our personal favorite spot in Northumberland. Nestled amidst the old fisherman’s cottages, The Ship Inn offers local delicacies and its own microbrewery. The picturesque beach, with Dunstanburgh Castle in the distance and dunes dotted with beach huts, is truly captivating, especially during quieter times outside of peak summer season.

A stop in Craster, a working fishing village renowned for its superb restaurant, The Jolly Fisherman, and its famous Craster Kipper Smokehouse, is always worthwhile.

Heading back inland, consider visiting Alnwick Castle and Gardens, home to Lilidore, the world’s largest children’s play structure. This destination alone could easily occupy an entire day.

Your final stop will either be Bolam Lake or Kirkharle, both charming campsites located close to Overland Adventures HQ. Bolam Lake offers serene views of a gorgeous lake and lush pastures, while Kirkharle, though seemingly remote, is just a short stroll away from artisan shops, a coffee shop, and a deli at Kirkharle Courtyard.

Aidan & Armstrong Overlanding in Northumberland

THE 4-5 DAY ROUTE – THE NLAND250

Extend your adventure with an extra day or two to fully immerse yourself in the NLAND250, allowing ample time to discover its hidden gems without rushing. Utilise the interactive NLAND250 map and explore our blog highlighting the top places to visit in 2024 to optimize your overland experience.

DAY 1

Departing from our headquarters, head straight to Rothbury to begin the NLAND250 route, approximately a 20-minute drive. A stop at Cragside is essential—a pioneering eco house, the first globally powered by hydroelectricity. Heritage enthusiasts can opt for visits to Belsay Hall or Wallington Hall, both just a few miles from our HQ.

Rothbury boasts excellent camping options, such as the beloved Low Trewitt River Valley, accessible only via 4WD—a picturesque spot nestled beside a meandering river. Alternatively, for more amenities, consider Butterwell Camping & Caravan Site or Snitter Farm.

DAY 2

After breakfast, journey to Otterburn to join the A68, admittedly the least scenic stretch of the trip leading to Corbridge. This affluent Roman town exudes charm with its upscale shops, antique stores, and delightful dining options. The Sycamore Corbridge is a personal favorite for its exceptional cuisine.

Continuing southward, arrive at the charming Blanchland, a highlight of Northumberland steeped in history and charm. Don’t miss the award-winning Lord Crewe Arms, dating back to 1165, rumoured to be haunted by a monk and the ghost of Dorothy Foster and boasting hidden staircases and a priest hole—an experience not to be missed.

DAYS 3 – 5

Depending on your schedule, consider staying at one of the many campsites scattered along Hadrian’s Wall, with plenty of tourist sites to explore. Alternatively, for cycling enthusiasts, continue north to Kielder and embark on our recommended 3-day route (above). Venturing further north reveals even more sights to behold, with a charming campsite on the outskirts of Etal awaiting your arrival.

The Northumberland Coast offers spectacular vistas, ideal for families interested in castle exploration, notably Alnwick Castle and Garden, featuring Lilidori, the world’s largest children’s play structure. A visit here warrants an entire day, making a 5-night stay advisable. Conclude your day by unwinding at one of the campsites near our headquarters, savouring the tranquillity of the surroundings.

Lord Crewe Arms Blanchland

THE 5 DAY TOUR – LAKE DISTRICT

Having frequented the Lake District for over 35 years, I’ve developed an intimate knowledge of its terrain. Here, I’ve curated a list of my favorite spots. I prefer avoiding large commercial towns and campsites, so I’ve tailored the itinerary towards well-maintained sites nestled in beautiful valleys, with charming villages nearby. These locations not only offer serene camping experiences but also showcase some of the most picturesque villages along the way, providing a true taste of the Lakes.

With hundreds of campsites to choose from, here’s a suggested itinerary:

DAYS 1 & 2

Embark on your journey and head straight for the Langdales via the A69, approximately a 2.5-hour drive depending on the time of day. Your destination is the Great Langdale Campsite, managed by the National Trust, nestled in a stunning valley—the epitome of tranquility. This well-organized site sprawls across several fields, offering a variety of options for accommodation. Recently, a new shower and toilet block were added, enhancing the facilities. Adjacent to the site are two traditional Lakeland pubs, with The Old Dungeon Ghyll being a personal favorite.

I recommend a two-night stay here.

For enthusiasts of walking or cycling, the surrounding area offers an array of trails, ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging hikes, all accessible from the campsite. Nearby, the quaint village of Elterwater adds to the charm with its pastoral setting, complete with sheep roaming the green spaces.

DAYS 3 & 4

Take your Land Rover and embark on an exploration. Positioned amidst the Lake there are many beautiful villages to discover. Begin with Grasmere, renowned for its picturesque charm, including a must-visit gingerbread shop. Continue to Ambleside, offering a blend of outdoor shops and traditional Lake District allure. Then route to Far Sawrey, where Beatrix Potter once resided and make a stop at Hawkshead, another beloved village.

The journey from Great Langdale to Far Sawrey spans approximately 12-13 miles and takes just over 30 minutes. You can even opt for a ferry ride across Windermere to Bowness, adding an element of fun to your trip.

Leaving Far Sawrey, head to Wasdale via a scenic route, albeit challenging due to steep hairpin bends. Alternatively, you can stick to the A593 towards Broughton in Furness, eventually reaching Eskdale and then Santon Bridge, the gateway to Wasdale Valley.

Wasdale Valley is simply breathtaking, with Wast Water, Britain’s deepest lake, nestled within its confines. This part of the Lakes exudes tranquility and offers a more laid-back atmosphere.

Consider spending two nights here, depending on your preferences. The Wasdale Campsite, overseen by the National Trust, is situated at the valley’s apex. The nearby Wasdale Head Inn offers delectable food, and on balmy summer evenings, savoring a pint while gazing up the valley is an experience to cherish. Additionally, the site provides direct access to Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak.

DAY 5

After a three-hour journey back, the following day offers a leisurely drive, allowing you to soak in the beauty of Lowes Water and Buttermere village, another cherished valley of mine, which will take just over an hour. Crummock Water, nestled in the valley, offers idyllic spots for a picnic.

Your final stop in the Lake District is Keswick, one of the larger, more renowned towns, but well worth a visit if time permits. It boasts excellent outdoor shops and is home to the world-famous Bryson Tea Rooms.

From here, you can either opt to stay at one of the campsites along Hadrian’s Wall or head back to ones closer to our HQ.

The English Lakes Overland Adventure

THE 7-8 DAY ROUTE – SCOTLAND, THE NC500 & ISLE OF SKYE

DAY 1

To reach the start of the NC500, it takes roughly 5 hours from our HQ. Depending on your departure time, it’s advisable to stop at one of the campsites along the way. Our usual route takes us directly to Aviemore, approximately a 4.30-hour drive away. Aviemore, Scotland’s outdoor hub, has a fantastic atmosphere.

There are excellent campsites in the area, including Dalraddy Holiday Park (https://www.campinginaviemore.co.uk/), known for its extensive facilities. However, our favorite is Glenmore Campsite (https://glenmore-campsite.com/) by Loch Morlich. Spending a night or even two here is highly recommended due to the abundance of activities available.

Overland Adventures NC500 Tour

DAY 2

Depending on your stay in Aviemore, you can join the NC500 by taking a more scenic route instead of the East Coast. Departing from Aviemore, a 2.30-hour drive along the A836 offers a spectacular journey through the heart of Scotland to Tongue. This route provides breathtaking views and avoids the monotony of the East Coast.

Once in Tongue, a left turn leads you onto the NC500 route along the west coast, offering a plethora of exploration opportunities, from islands to expansive white beaches stretching for miles.

Our own adventure along the NC500 began in Tongue, where we headed to our first night’s stop at Sheigra Beach Honor Campsite, approximately 1.40 hours away. This wild campsite is truly picturesque, offering an unforgettable experience.

Tongue itself is a charming village on Scotland’s north coast, featuring the ruins of Tongue Castle, providing a glimpse into the country’s rich history. As you journey onwards, you’ll pass by Ben Loyal, affectionately known as the “Queen of Scottish Mountains.”

Further along the route, near Durness, lies Smoo Cave, a must-visit large sea cave with fascinating freshwater and seawater features, offering guided tours. Durness itself is a delightful village boasting stunning beaches like Balnakeil Beach and unique attractions such as the Sango Sands Oasis, a garden oasis with tropical plants.

One of the highlights of our journey was the walk to Sandwood Bay Beach, Scotland’s most remote mainland beach, offering a truly fantastic experience. We spent two nights there, enjoying the idyllic setting with only a few other visitors, relishing the solitude and witnessing unforgettable sunsets with our most loyal companion.

Sandwood Bay Beach with Nelson on our Overland Adventure

DAYS 3 & 4

Leaving from Sandwood Bay, the next stop is Altandhu in Ullapool, where you’ll find the delightful Port a Bhaigh campsite nestled in a picturesque bay. This slight deviation from the NC500 route is well worthwhile, offering excellent facilities and the opportunity for activities like kayaking to nearby islands – one of the highlights for us.

Altandhu boasts a charmingly quirky bar housed in what appears to be a tin shed but exudes character once you step inside. This area of Scotland holds a special place in my heart; it’s a perfect blend of coastlines, mountains, lochs, and breathtaking scenery at every turn. During our stay, we made sure to conquer Stac Pollaidh mountain, a must-do for its spectacular views and thrilling roads leading up to it.

We opted to linger here for a couple of nights, captivated by its beauty, but depending on your schedule, you might choose to stay for just one.

Kayaking on the NC500 on our Overland Adventure

DAY 5

From Altandhu, you reconnect with the NC500 at Drumrunie and make your way to Applecross, a journey of about 4 hours. This leg of the NC500 is renowned for its awe-inspiring coastal vistas, majestic mountains, and thrilling driving challenges. It traverses some of the most remote and rugged terrain in the Scottish Highlands, providing unparalleled scenery and a true sense of adventure, especially enjoyable in a Land Rover Defender.

Applecross offers a lovely campsite with excellent amenities, but we opted for a night of wild camping to fully immerse ourselves in the natural surroundings.

Exploring with Overland Adventures

DAY 6

Driving straight to Glencoe takes approximately 3 hours, but if you’re up for a detour to the Isle of Skye, it adds an extra dimension to your journey, including a scenic ferry crossing from Armadale to Mallaig. This adds about 4.30 hours to your trip, so plan accordingly, especially during peak season.

For those considering a stay on Skye, Glenbrittle campsite on the west coast offers a special experience, with the majestic Black Cuillin mountain range as your backdrop and a stunning bay to enjoy. With an early start from Applecross, you can explore much of Skye in just a few hours.

From Mallaig, it’s about 1.30 hours to Glencoe via the renowned “Road to the Isles,” a route celebrated as one of Scotland’s most scenic drives. Passing through Fort William, nestled beneath the towering Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak, you’ll find excellent spots for stocking up and indulging in some traditional fish and chips.

In Glencoe, we found sanctuary at the charming Red Squirrel Campsite, nestled beside a serene river and surrounded by the majestic mountains of Argyle. Glencoe itself is a breathtaking valley, renowned for its natural beauty and offering fantastic opportunities for hiking. The Lost Valley Walk, which I experienced years ago, is particularly impressive and can be completed in 2-3 hours, depending on your pace and the weather conditions.

A Scottish Hike on the NC500

DAYS 7 & 8

From Glencoe, it’s just over 200 miles back to HQ, taking approximately 4.30 hours. However, if you’re up for it, consider indulging in a night or two in Edinburgh or even Northumberland to add a touch of town or city luxury to your adventure.

Remember, there are no rules to an overland adventure that say you can’t enjoy a bit of comfort along the way. This is your journey, so make the rules as you see fit.

While some of the days on this route may be long, the itinerary provided is based on personal experience and can be adjusted to suit your preferences. Feel free to reach out and suggest alternative options. I have a passion for driving, especially through some of the most stunning scenery in Europe, if not the world. But if you prefer shorter days, don’t hesitate to tailor the route to better suit your needs.

Etal & Ford Northumberland 250

THE 10 DAY ROUTE – THE NORTHUMBERLAND COAST & THE NC500

For those who want a longer adventure why not combine Northumberland & Scotland breaking up the route with a cheeky night in Edinburgh – one of our favourite cities that is briming with history & culture. It offers a bit or retail therapy with fine or down to earth eateries.

Edinburgh Castle

THE 14 DAY GRAND TOUR – NORTHUMBERLAND, SCOTLAND & THE LAKES

Referencing the routes above take the parts of each area that suit you most. Consider three to four days in the Lakes, two on the Northumberland Coast then head up to Scotland – possibly overnight in Edinburgh City then take the remainder touring the NC500.

The Old Man of Storr - an NC500 Overland Adventure