Home to England’s cleanest rivers, clearest air, the darkest skies and The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre.
Covering an area of more than 410 square miles between the Scottish border in the north to just south of Hadrian’s Wall UNESCO World Heritage site, Northumberland is the least populated of all of the UK’s 15 National Parks.
The least populated of all of the UK’s 15 National Parks, the diverse landscape of Northumberland attracts visitors from all over the world who come to enjoy the heritage, history and culture of this ancient, unspoilt place.
Nestled within the Hadrian’s Wall UNESCO World Heritage site, The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre is your gateway to a National Park experience.
England’s darkest skies are the perfect place to stargaze. Discover our many dark sky sites where you can see millions of stars, far away from light pollution.
Our walking routes are some of the best ways to uncover our wide skies, dramatic landscapes and glorious history.
10 reasons why Northumberland National Park is a special place
Northumberland National Park is the northernmost national park in England. It covers an area of more than 1,050 square kilometres (410 sq mi) between the Scottish border in the north to just south of Hadrian’s Wall, and it is one of the least populated and least visited of the National Parks.
The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre is situated at Once Brewed next to the most iconic stretches of Hadrian’s Wall. Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Sill was one of the biggest projects ever undertaken by an English National Park. Its aim – to help more people access and learn about the park landscapes, geography and habitats – is enjoyed by around 140,000 each year and features a fully accessible Whin Sill Grassland roof walk and rich programme of activities, events and exhibitions.
In December 2013 the International Dark Sky Association conferred Dark Sky Park status on an area including Northumberland National Park; it is the largest protected Dark Sky Park in Europe. Dark Sky viewing platforms can be found across the National Park including Walltown and Cawfields on Hadrian’s Wall.
From prehistoric rock art and hill forts to the ruins of medieval castles and bastles, or fortified farmhouses and UNESCO World Heritage Site Hadrian’s Wall, the 10,000 year history of human habitation in our historic landscape reflects its frontier past. A third of North East England’s 1,389 scheduled monuments are found in the park, which also has 229 listed buildings and structures.
The Ministry of Defence in the United Kingdom owns much of the land in the national park as the Otterburn Training Area. Some parts of this training area are off-limits; others can be accessed only at certain times or with permission. The training area accounts for 23% of the Northumberland National Park. There are 75 Scheduled Monuments within the Otterburn Training Area, England’s second largest military training area established in 1911.
Four out of the five of the cleanest rivers in Britain are sourced in Northumberland National Park. All these rivers tumble down from the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland National Park. They are home to migrating salmon and sea trout, which swim upstream from the sea to lay their eggs, and to otters and other wildlife such as dippers and the water crow-foot, a floating member of the buttercup family.
Northumberland is the most remote and least populated of all England’s national parks, with a population of only around 2,000. This equates to just 0.02 persons per hectare – 10 times less dense than any other national park. It is also officially the most tranquil National Park.
The variety of landscapes mean that almost a third of the park (32,758 hectares) is made up of priority habitats, which are recognised for their national and international environmental importance and wildlife, while 10,000 hectares are sites of special scientific interest.
Not surprisingly, walking is the top activity for visitors, with 72% of the park classed as open access land and there are more than 1,140km of public rights of way. Hugely popular are walks around Hadrian’s Wall and in the stunning scenery and solitude of the Cheviot Hills. With everything from waterfalls to woodland, you can’t fail to find the most beautiful backdrop to your adventures in the countryside.
Around 70 per cent of Northumberland National Park is open moorland covered with grasses that feed sheep and cattle from more than 200 farms located within the Park. In areas like Simonside and Cheviot Hills, where sheep grazing has been restricted, purple heather cover abounds, a habitat found few other places in the world. The curlew, Britain’s biggest wading bird, breeds on the wet edges of the moors in spring.
Come to the land of the far horizons for breathtaking landscape, intriguing history and a warm welcome in England’s most tranquil corner. We have more than 400 square miles of scenery in which to escape from the everyday.
The iconic ridge of the Whin Sill with Hadrian’s Wall striding along its crest stretches along our southern boundary. To the west lies the beguiling valley of North Tyne with hay meadows and waterfalls. It neighbours the wild valley of Redesdale, site of ancient battles and defiant moorland.
In our centre is Coquetdale, with the landmark Simonside Hills and the beautiful villages of Harbottle and Holystone. To the north towards the border with Scotland, the landscape changes again. Here are the rolling moors and grasslands of the Cheviot Hills, with their ancient hillforts and pristine rivers.
The most iconic stretches of Hadrian’s Wall can be explored by a short walk or drive from The Sill. Walk to Steel Rigg and Sycamore Gap, following the wall as it snakes through the Whin Sill landscape. Travelling west you can visit Cawfields and Walltown where you will find toilets, picnic sites and dark sky viewing platforms.
Walk along the top of Simonside where you have a 360 degree view of the Cheviot Hills and Northumberland coastline. This distinctive ridge, with its craggy profile, teems with wildlife such as the curlew, red grouse, wild goats, and red squirrels. Ancient cairns mark the summit of the ridge and below the ridge lies Lordenshaws hillfort.
The Cheviots are a range of rolling hills straddling the Anglo-Scottish border between Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. Check out the dramatic waterfall of Linhope Spout or tucked-away ponds of Wooler Common and for those seeking adventure you can walk to the summit of Cheviot, Northumberland’s highest point.