Northumberland is, in my opinion, England’s hidden gem. Unexplored by many, the large county holds many beautiful locations perfect for a spot of photography. Yes, I live in Northumberland, and yes, I’m biased (of course!), but I love the North East. With stunning beaches, the wilderness of the Cheviot Hills and Kielder, and the ancient Hadrian’s Wall, there is something for everyone.
Here I’ve pulled together my favourite seven photo spots in Northumberland…
One of a handful of well-proportioned and photogenic waterfalls in Northumberland, Roughting Linn is easily the most accessible. Within just a few minutes of your car you’re in an impressive tiny amphitheatre, probably alone. I’ve been here around a dozen times and have only seen one or two other people there in total. It’s just a lovely, peaceful and atmospheric place.
To add to the impressive nature of this spot, one of the best rock art examples around – a large whale-back style rock covered in cup and ring marks – is close by.
As with most waterfalls, Roughting Linn is at its best after a bit of rain.
To get to Roughting Linn, park up at the crossroads as indicated on my Photo Locations page (open the menu on the right-hand side of the map and click on Roughting Linn). Walk down the track towards the farm and as soon as you cross a small burn there is a barely visible path to your left. If you get as far as being able to hear the waterfall then you’ve gone too far along the track. It’s a very steep and risky route from the top of the falls.
Head down the small path and it will take you in a U shape around an outcrop and will bring you to the bottom of the waterfall. It shouldn’t take you much more than 5 minutes or so to get there from your car.
There are a number of impressive castle in Northumberland – some ruined and some inhabited. Two of these have made my list, the first of which is Dunstanburgh Castle just north of Craster on the coast. It is a stunning example of a ruin and makes for an imposing skyline when a photo subject. The ‘classic’ photograph of Dunstanburgh Castle is from the boulder-strewn bay just to the north of the ruins, as seen here:
There are, however, a number of other ways to photograph this spot. It is just as photogenic from the south, and makes for some great shots inside the ruins too. I’ve also seen (although not yet tried) some cracking star trail photos over the towers.
If you want to enter the castle, park up in Craster and walk north up the sea front. There is normally a charge to access the ruins (more details here). To see the vista from the north, try parking near Embleton Golf Course and walking onto Embleton Bay, then heading south along the beach.
Bamburgh Castle is one of the grandest and most striking castles in the North East of England. Once home to the Kings of Northumbria, it is still occupied to this day. The castle and area are stepped in centuries of history, and there are some fascinating stories that are well worth a read.
From a photography perspective, the castle commands a formidable skyline. Similar to Dunstanburgh Castle, it can be approached from the North or South. You can, however, stay on the beach and walk past the castle so it is easy to shift perspective.
My favourite angle by far is from the far side of the bay to the north. It is a very flat beach so the tide will fill most of the foreground, like in this example – one of my favourite photos.
Made famous through its inclusion in Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Sycamore Gap is a must-see spot in Northumberland. Located somewhere around the mid-point of the ancient Hadrian’s Wall, it is a lone Sycamore tree in a near symmetrical dip in the landscape.
It is a pretty barren landscape around Sycamore gap, and its rugged beauty is only part of the reason this spot is worth a visit. It is also steeped in history, being one of the best-maintained sections of the wall.
To get to Sycamore Gap, turn north at Once Brewed and follow the road for a short distance until you see the car park on your right. Park up and follow the path down to the wall, then along the wall itself (to the east) until you get to the tree.
In my opinion, the best view point is (as seen above) from the southern side of the wall. I’m planning a trip there soon at night to photograph the stars over the tree – watch the blog for details soon.
After a walk along the wall, you can always pop into the Twice Brewed Inn for a bite to eat and a pint/cuppa/glass of wine.*
*delete as appropriate…
Corby Crags offers one of the best and most accessible views in Northumberland. Looking towards the Cheviot Hills and Thrunton Woods, the small village of Edlingham sits nearby, and Edlingham Castle and the viaduct are great features of the vista spanning out before you. Corbys Crags and the accompanying parking spots sit on the B6341 between Alnwick and the A697.
The surrounding area is worth an explore too – there’s a great little waterfall tucked away just down the road for example.
*Following communication with the MOD, I have been asked to remove the photograph and details of this aircraft as it sits within the boundaries of a working RAF site. I wasn’t aware of this at the time, and would like to state that I don’t condone the unauthorised access to restricted MOD land.*
Again, not strictly in Northumberland, it’s impossible to ignore the lure of the Newcastle Gateshead Quayside. The photo you see below is taken from one of the most popular spots, as the Tyne Bridge and Millennium Bridge line up perfectly.
To get to this spot, walk along the Newcastle side of the Quayside away from the Tyne Bridge, past the Millennium Bridge, until you see the bridges start to line up. Set up and enjoy! Look around you and you’ll see the Sage Gateshead concert hall, the Baltic gallery, the Law Courts and of course the iconic bridges: the Tyne Bridge, the Millennium Bridge, the High Level Bridge and the Swing Bridge.
In my experience there isn’t a best time or condition to shoot here. Generally it’s more attractive at night or the golden hours, as are most landscapes, but there is enough going on here to work in most conditions.
So there you go – they are my seven favourite places to photograph in Northumberland (and a little beyond). I know there’s a fair few I haven’t included, like the Angel of the North, Lindisfarne, Kielder and Alnwick to name a few – that’s the beauty of living in the North East where there’s such an abundance of photogenic locations.
Let me know in the comments what your favourite spots are in the North East…
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