Discover great beauty and historically important attractions
With three breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Sites within an hour of the airport, it’s easy to discover great beauty and historically important attractions. Here’s our guide to the best of the best!
Hadrian’s Wall - visit the prime sites of Rome’s greatest frontier
When Emperor Hadrian ordered construction of his epic and lasting symbol of the north-western frontier of his mighty Roman empire, it’s unlikely that he’d have expected kinfolk from across Europe and beyond to still be flocking to the settlements and fortifications constructed in his name almost 2,000 years later.
The Frontier was punctuated by fort settlements, milecastles and turrets which served as controlled border ‘gateways’ through the Wall. In AD122 its scale and magnitude was extraordinary – matched today by its visitor appeal.
Spanning 80 Roman miles across the narrowest stretch of northern England, you could be mistaken for thinking the Romans arrived into the region via Newcastle! Paradoxically, Hadrian's Wall started in modern-day Wallsend! Here, Segedunum Roman Fort was built to guard the eastern end of the Wall, and housed 600 Roman soldiers. Across the River Tyne, Arbeia Roman Fort was a key garrison and military supply base for Segedunum and other frontier forts, guarding the main sea route to Hadrian's Wall.
Most impressive in scale and setting, Housesteads Roman Fort sits as a reminder of why the Wall is built where it is. With commanding views beyond the Empire into the Barbarian territories, this site commands authority. Open daily, the excavations of this fort reveal a multi-functioning self-sufficient settlement – barracks, hospital, granary stores, underwater heating systems and ‘flushable’ latrines. The visitor centre – a much more recent addition – depicts the fort’s history and casts a light into what the Romans ever did for us!
The nearby Chesters Roman Fort and Museum displays evidence of a bathhouse where the Tyne once meandered by.
But it’s Roman Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum which offer unparalleled insight into the dichotomy of the Roman era - how this commanding military force depended on civilian supply to maintain an effective and centuries-long control.
Linked by year-round train services from Newcastle and Carlisle as well as a seasonal bus service to Wall sites, it’s easy to walk in Roman footsteps along the Frontiers of the Roman Empire Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site
Durham - the north east’s world heritage city
Just 15 minutes by train from Newcastle central station is the historic city of Durham. You’ll discover why this city has earned a place on the UNESCO world heritage list the moment you glance through the train’s windows as you arrive into the station.
Sitting atop a rocky outcrop with unassailable views across the city lie two of the north east’s most dramatic statements of faith and fortitude.
Durham Cathedral is famous as a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture. Inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1986, it has been a place of worship, welcome and hospitality for almost a millennium.
The cathedral was a setting for the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with Harry Potter and his friends often seen in the Cathedral's impressive cloisters.
The cathedral's Open Treasure is a world-class exhibition experience which is home to the Treasures of St Cuthbert, a collection of anglo-saxon artefacts of the North of England's best-loved saint. Guided tours of the exhibition and tower are highly recommended.
Set grandly next to the cathedral with the medieval city huddled below, the Norman Durham Castle was commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1072.
The Castle’s motte and bailey construction covered the whole of the Durham Peninsula, encapsulating what is now the site of Durham Cathedral, with the steep river banks an ideal defensive site for a castle.
Inscribed to the world heritage list alongside the cathedral in 1986, the castle has been lived in continuously since the 11th century and is now home to students of Durham University who lead daily guided tours of the building and grounds which offer fascinating insight to the historic site.
Lake District National Park – a land of meres and fells
England’s most recent inscription on the world heritage list, the dramatic landscapes and picture-postcard views of the Lake District make the it hard to believe it took so long!
Boasting England’s highest peak at Scafell Pike, and largest lake at Windermere, this unique landscape has inspired poets and artists, and attracts adventurers from far and wide to tackle some of the most challenging activities in the country.
The Lakes was home to Britain’s most famous poet, William Wordsworth. Credited with sparking tourism to the area in 1820 with the publication of his ‘Guide through the District of the Lakes’, a museum in Grasmere is dedicated to his life.
With 16 lakes the pace is tranquil and scenery spectacular. Add the magnificent mountain fells, and it’s the diversity of the Lakes that will have you clambering to soak up the impressive views.
Above all else, the region’s world heritage sites are renowned for exploring the history, landscapes and great outdoors.
What are you waiting for?