TRAVEL NORTHUMBERLAND IN STYLE…
One of the oldest counties in England, Northumberland dates back to mid 600 A.D. Recently voted the best National Park in the UK yet still remains a vast rural expanse with the least visitors of pretty much any other county in our glorious country.
Steeped in history and boasting over 70 castles, more than any other county in the UK, with one of the best coastlines in Europe, Northumberland is a diverse and unspoilt hidden gem. Among its many accolades is Hadrian’s Wall, one of the most historical landmarks in Europe given world heritage status in 1987.
Its rugged landscapes, picturesque medieval towns and bountiful historical sites make Northumberland a must to visit but, we think to explore this majestic county to its fullest, the mode of transport you choose can make a truly memorable trip into an epic adventure.
A recently mapped route to feature for Northumberland is the “Northumberland 250”. A route stretching from the North Pennines to Berwick with 250 features and 50 points of interest that takes you through some of the most dramatic and scenic roads the region offers as well as some of the oldest landmarks and places of historial importance in the county.
The Northumberland 250 is still in its infancy with very little traffic so you can explore it in many different ways whether that’s by car, by motorbike or by cycling it – each has its own special appeal and we’ve looked at how you can traverse this landscape whichever way you choose to give you an idea of what to expect:
By car is probably the most obvious way to travel the N250. Set your own pace and make stops whereever you choose. You’ll have the flexibility to change your plans if you find a place you’d like to stay longer, especially if you’re planning to camp on your trip. Don’t be fooled by the road less travelled adage though – during peak holiday season, if you’re planning on booking onto campsites or into the array of fantastic BnB’s, Guest Houses, Boutique Hotels, Pubs or the relatively newly launched glamping huts around we’d advise pre-booking.
There are several drawbacks associated with using a car for the Kielder Forest drive. Firstly, this picturesque route spans a distance of 12 miles, winding through the forest and featuring a variety of road types. Depending on the time of year, the driver’s skills, and the overall condition of the track, it can be quite challenging, especially when it constitutes a part of a 250-mile journey. Furthermore, depending on the type of vehicle being used, it may present certain difficulties. Additionally, the route includes a number of shallow streams to cross, known as fords, which, once again, can pose a certain level of risk depending on the prevailing seasonal conditions, particularly in heavy rainfall.
BY 4 X 4 LAND ROVER DEFENDER
Taking a 4 x 4 Land Rover is a great way to take in all the sites the N250 has to offer. The Defender particularly comes into its own on the Keidler Forest Drive, a 12-mile stretch of the Northumberland 250. Its a spectacular road that takes you through Kielder and the Dark Skies Observatory, a stunning stop when the dark nights have drawn in for earlier visits. Open until 11pm so just as exceptional during the Summer months too.
Northumberland is also great for ‘green-laning’ (not to be confused with off-roading!) although some experience is advised for a safe journey. Landowners permission is a must for this activity. For all the know-how on Green Laning check out the Green Lane Association.
Defenders are designed for exploring a little more adventurous and challenging routes. Their four wheel drive and high clearance make them ideal vehicles to tackle most terrains from rough tracks to muddy roads and most importantly to us, finding that extra special camp spot!
Perfect too for bringing along your four legged best friend as its got a really spacious boot area. Our defenders all have a guard between the boot and the passenger area. You can hire a special dog pack with us for the back passenger seats that means your dog can sit close and enjoy the scenery and the ride just as much as you.
From Overland Adventures you can hire our Land Rover Defenders in a range of different set ups from a vehicle only to our 1 and 2 tent expedition ready luxury campers.
And the beauty of taking one of our iconic Land Rover Defenders campers is that you’re in charge of your adventure!
EXPLORING NORTHUMBERLAND BY MOTORBIKE
A great way to explore the region, the roads are great for bikes and there are certain parts of the Northumberand 250 route that are really popular with the motorbike fraternity and it can get a litte busier on a sunny Sunday but still, nothing that will slow you down. Most of the roads are in good condition but you do need to be wary of the odd pot hole.
As any biker will tell you there are always certain drawbacks such as being exposed to the elements – Northumberland being Northumberland means the weather can be a little hard to predict and travelling by bike can be a little uncomfortable for lengthy periods. In this neck of the woods parts of the route like the Kielder Forest track would be more suited to a tourer bike. There’s also the luggage capacity. If you intend spending a little time in Northumberland and want to experience what it has to offer then panniers might not cut it.
CYCLING THE NORTHUMBERLAND 250
If you have the time, the energy and above all the heart and legs for it then cycling the Northumberland 250 is a great way to explore and get off the beaten track. What’s more the environment will thank you! You’ll need 4 – 7 days depending on your bike and your level of fitness for an enjoyable experience. There are also sections where you can jump onto one of the National Cycle Routes as mentioned below.
I’d suggest a gravel bike is your best option as there are certain parts of the route where it’s track rather than road.
One of the highlights is the Coast and Castles route. You can pick this up at Craster following the coastline all the way up to Holy Island. Veering off a little allows you to get up close to Dunstanburgh Castle. Cycling from the mainland across the Holy Island Causeway, particularly at sunrise, is something quite special.
Another highlight in our opinion is heading over to Kielder via the forest track. Kielder offers cycle tracks for all cyclists. With over 100 miles of trails from downhill to family trails long and short. It also boasts a bike hire centre where you can hire bycicles or drop in for repairs and servicing. Just be wary of the midges when its wet and warm.
Another firm favourite is the national cycle route Hadrian’s Wall Cycleway. The best guide out there to help you navigate the wall and get up close is a guide by Sustrans.
As with a motorbike cycling can be tough with exposure to the elements. If you’re planning on cycling your way around the Northumberland 250 it’s a good idea to spend a considerable amount of time planning. Having pre-booked accommodation or campsites in place is a must with back up plans incase the weather takes a turn for the worse.
THE BEST WAY TO DRIVE THE NORTHUMBERLAND 250
Northumberland offers adventure, exploration, historical landmarks dating back to 200BC, rugged landscapes and coastlines to die for plus about every activity you can think of. There are numerous ways to explore the region, some with more benefits than others but one thing is for certain, if you have a sense of adventure, hiring one of our Land Rover Defenders will allow you the freedom to see Northumberland to its full potential in iconic British style. It’s road capabilities, size and safety are unmatched and you’ll be the envy of all on the open road and whereever you pitch or park up. Along with all the camp equipment you could need packed as standard you’ll need for nothing other than a toothbrush and a change. You can even hire extras like a bike rack, ooni pizza oven a kayak and much more!