North-East gems – explore what’s on the doorstep this Christmas

IMG_1142My top 12 things to see and do in the North-East by Liliana Rose Dalbins (born and bred in Stockton with a passion for adventure who still thinks there’s no place like home).

Whenever people ask me where I’m from and I reply with the North-East, there is always three main things they think of; heavy industry, economic decline and high teenage pregnancy.

I’m here to tell (and show) you that the North East is so much more than that! With around three million of us we might be the least populated and the smallest region (outside of London), but we certainly make up for it with the beautiful, historic and often hidden treasures we can find right on our doorsteps.

After travelling most of Europe over the past seven years, experiencing breathtaking sights and exploring new cities, I’ve come to realise that the North-East has its own attractions – as long as you know where to look. Getting it down to just 12 was a challenge; I’ve combined some so I can include more of what the North East has to offer…

1) Afternoon Tea
Take your pick from beautiful locations across the North East; Rockliffe Hall, Wynyard Hall, Maften Hall to name a few. You’re bound to be blown away by the stunning architecture, rich heritage and delicious food.

2) Durham Cathedral
After a walk through the cobbled streets of historic Durham, a visit to the cathedral is a must. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting stunning stain glass windows and Romanesque architecture.

3) Redcar
A walk along the beach (weather permitting!) and a Lemon Top from the renowned Pacittos is one of my favourite things to do.

4) Farne Islands
There are around 15 islands, 2 lighthouses and countless varieties of wildlife. Take a boat trip from Seahouses (also great for fish and chips) to see seal colonies, groups of puffins and learn all about heroine Grace Darling.

5) Newcastle Quayside
With no less than seven bridges along a mile stretch of the river banks, there is no shortage of things to look at. Different architectural styles and ages of the bridges make for an interesting walk along the quayside after a visit to the Sage or the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.

READ MORE from North-East guest blogger Liliana Rose Dalbins

6) Hadrian’s Wall
Around 70 miles in length and over 1,800 years old, it was the first border between Scotland and England. Although much of it has disappeared over the years, some of it is still standing and can be visited. Take a walk along one of the many trails along the wall.

7) Bamburgh Castle
This is one of my top three things to do in the North-East. Since being very young I’ve always visited Bamburgh Castle and been captivated by it size, location and history. Whether you do a tour of it or just take a walk on the beach in front, you won’t be disappointed – for me its one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen!

8) Roseberry Topping  
Roseberry Topping is one of the best places to witness the beauty of the North-East with views stretching miles and miles. After a morning climbing, make sure to stop in Great Ayton for a Suggitt’s ice cream or to check out the James Cook Birthplace Museum.

9) Holy Island
Perhaps one of the most iconic attractions of the North East, Holy Island is steeped in history and requires visitors to drive across a causeway only accessible at low tide! This is also in my top three as it is pretty unique and I love going to stay overnight knowing we will have to wait for the tide to go back out so we can get off the island.

10) Alnwick, Northumberland
Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or just like castles, Alnwick is the place to go! With Alnwick Castle (pictured above) and Gardens (including one of the biggest treehouses in the world) you will not be short of places to explore. Take time to visit Barter Books, it’s the largest second-hand bookshop in Europe and my favourite place.

11) Kielder Water Observatory
With no light pollution this is one of the best dark spots in the UK, allowing for almost perfect viewing of the night sky. Hire a boat and go sailing for the day on the UKs biggest reservoir.

12) Preston Park, Stockton
This 100 acre park has lots to offer. Want to walk along the River Tees and enjoy the tranquillity it offers? Or do you want to spend the afternoon in Victorian England? The replica street with its sweet shop, drapers and blacksmiths and costumed volunteers truly take you back in time. The museum also has other exhibits showing how Stocktonians lived through the ages.

Another great way to see a lot of the North East in just a few short hours is to take the train from Darlington to Edinburgh. Once you get through Newcastle the train line runs along the coastline, giving uninterrupted views from the comfort of your seat. In my opinion it’s the best train journey in the country – but then again I might be a bit biased!


Liliana can be found blogging at