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Discover treasures along the north east coast with the whole family
- Deborah Chu
- 27 March 2019
Nature reserves, historic cathedrals and beautiful coastal walks await the weekend warrior
Now that spring is officially upon us, why spend another day on the couch when there are so many easily-accessible gems to explore along the UK's gorgeous east coast? From atmospheric ruins to stately grounds, take the family out on a trip to remember.
Lindisfarne Nature Reserve and Island
Closest stop: Berwick-upon-Tweed
A tidal island just off the Northumbrian coast, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne is renowned for its vital role in the history of Celtic Christianity, having produced the sumptuously illustrated Lindisfarne Gospels and housed many famous medieval saints. The causeway connecting the island to the mainland is often cut off by the tide, but as long as you keep to the time table, this can make for a lovely walk along the scenic beaches and mudflats during periods of low tide. In addition to monks and saints, Lindisfarne is also internationally recognised as being the home to many important bird populations and grey seals, so be sure to bring along your binoculars.
Arts & Culture in Newcastle
Closest stop: Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Though perhaps better known for its excellent night life, Newcastle-upon-Tyne in fact boasts an embarrassment of cultural riches that'll be sure to inspire your wee future scientist, artist or historian. In the city centre, the Great North Museum: Hancock has an incredible collection of fossils and artefacts, plenty of family-friendly crafts sessions, as well as an incredible planetarium for those looking to explore amongst the stars. Or prepare to have your mind blown by the clever folk down at the Life Science Centre, with revolving theatre shows, live demonstrations and immersive workshops on all things brainy and brilliant. The Baltic Centre of Contemporary Arts also has an excellent family programme running throughout their monumental collection, with guided tours, pop-up sensory play rooms and artist-led art activities designed to make the arts fun and accessible for even the smallest of visitors.
The Ramparts of River Tweed
Closest stop: Berwick-upon-Tweed
Step back in time to the tumultuous days of the Anglo-Saxon period and explore the crumbling ruins which were once mighty fortresses along the River Tweed. Situated on the border between England and Scotland, Berwick-upon-Tweed was a strategically important location during the Anglo-Scottish wars, and boasts an impressive circuit of ramparts that still ring around the historic town today, and are considered the best preserved example of Tudor town defences. Be sure to also have a clamber through the ruins of Berwick Castle, where King Edward I of England once took oaths of allegiance from Scottish noblemen.
Beamish, the Living Museum of the North
Closest stop: Newcastle or Durham
Explore what life was like in North East England at the turn of the 20th century at Beamish, an open-air museum spread across 300 acres of land. Considered a 'living museum', discover faithful recreations of a town in the lead up to the First World War, a working colliery from the 1900s, or a farm on the Home Front during the Second World War. There are also hands-on experiences for visitors looking to truly immerse themselves in the period, such as candle making, basket weaving, blacksmithing and more.
Closest stop: Durham
If it's a quiet city break you're looking for, then things don't get much more ideal than historic Durham. Situated on the banks of the River Wear, Durham is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its iconic cathedral widely considered the best example of Norman architecture in Europe, and the final resting place of the relics of Saint Cuthbert, the patron saint of Northumbria. You can also poke your head around the famous Durham Castle and Palace Green, now owned by the esteemed Durham University and frequented by students aplenty. So if you're looking to get away from the humdrum of everyday life for a few days, make sure Durham's winding medieval streets and sylvan riverbank walks are at the top of your list.
Organising a family outing to the east coast is now simpler than ever with LNER. Their Family Return Ticket – covering up to two adults and four children – lets the whole family travel together for one fixed price, starting at just £59. And with on-board loos, free wifi and an excellent selection of food and drink, you'll be amazed at how stress-free travelling with wee ones can be. Book from their website directly and avoid those pesky booking fees, or if you find a cheaper ticket than the one advertised, have the price matched and the difference refunded through their Price Promise.
Also be sure to keep a lookout for the new Azuma trains rolling out along the line this year. Built using Japanese bullet train technology, travelling along the east coast will be smoother, quieter, more reliable and extra comfortable, with more leg and luggage room, power sockets for every seat and free improved wifi on both Standard and First Class. Think this lap of luxury is out of reach? Think again: LNER are currently running a competition for a few lucky folk to win up to four First Class tickets, so there's never been a better time to start planning your next getaway.
Visit the LNER website for more details on train times and ticket prices.