Visit 30 Castles in Northumberland

 Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England. In fact, we're said to have over 70 castles here (althoough Wiki narrows that list down to 48). Ever since my friend Hannah from Mumsdays visited every castle in Northumberland in 2015, I have wanted to do the same. 

Visit 30 Castles in Northumberland

My eldest teen is keen to do this too and he'll be heading off to uni in two years time so this year seemed like the year for us to complete the challenge. 

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To access all of these features, you do need to 'sign up' to my website which is quick and easy to do the first time you click the button. You should stay signed in once you have signed up. There will also be a prompt to sign up to my new monthly newsletter which will focus on key ideas for this to do in the upcoming school holidays. I really hope you sign up and make the most of these features. 

After researching all of the castles in Northumberland, I have decided that 30 of them are viable for a visit. I have discounted those which can only be viewed from private land (I don't want to encourage trespassing) and those which are just  basically a mound of grass as I'd find that too boring. I want to see a proper castle! 

My actual list is just over 30 as there are a couple that we may or may not be able to visit due to the times they are open / access info being thin on the ground but I'm going to attempt them all. I will update this post as we go with practical info about visiting each castle. 

If you scroll to the bottom of this post, we have created a bespoke interactive google map featuring the locations of all of the castles making it easier to plan and visit a couple in on trip (or you can get the direct map link here). 

Also, please double check castle websites before visiting for up to date opening hours as even some of the free entry castles are not open all of the time. 

  1. Alnwick Castle 
  2. Aydon Castle - visited April 2023
  3. Bamburgh Castle 
  4. Bellister Castle - visited August 2023
  5. Belsay Castle -visited July 2023 
  6. Berwick Castle
  7. Blenkinsopp Castle - visited August 2023
  8. Bothal Castle - visited February 2023
  9. Cartington Castle 
  10. Chillingham Castle 
  11. Chipchase Castle 
  12. Cresswell Castle - visited August 2023 
  13. Dunstanburgh Castle 
  14. Edlingham Castle - visited January 2023
  15. Etal Castle - visited August 2023
  16. Featherstone Castle - visited August 2023
  17. Ford Castle - visited August 2023
  18. Harbottle Castle 
  19. Kielder Castle 
  20. Langley Castle 
  21. Lindisfarne Castle - visited March 2023 
  22. Mitford Castle - visited February 2023 
  23. Morpeth Castle - visited February 2023
  24. Norham Castle - visited August 2023
  25. Otterburn Castle 
  26. Ponteland Castle - visited April 2023
  27. Prudhoe Castle 
  28. Rothley Castle 
  29. Thirlwell Castle - visited August 2023
  30. Twizell Castle - visited August 2023
  31. Warkworth Castle - visited April 2023

Looking for an alternative challenge? Why not try our 'Visit 12 North East Lighthouses in One Day Challenge

30 Castles in Northumberland 

Alnwick Castle 

Opens 31 March, entry fee applies, try and visit in Spring for Daffodil display, no pet dogs.

Aydon Castle 

We visited Aydon Castle near Corbridge over Easter weekend. Dogs are welcome in all areas and it's free to visit if you're an English Heritage members (otherwise charges apply). 

Aydon Castle is technically a fortified manor house which dates back to the 13th century and I really liked that it was packed with original features. The guidebook is worth a purchase for a few £ and will take you through the castle's history from it changing hands between England and Scotland in the early years to still being inhabited as late as the 1960s.  

There are various rooms to explore (mostly in good condition), a small apple orchard in a walled garden, courtyard and a small shop with takeaway drinks and ice creams as well as picnic tables and toilets. 

You can see more photos and read more about our visit in this Facebook post. 

This was our first visit and I'm really pleased we made the trip as the original features were really interesting. There are also 5 colonies of bats living inside the castle (although they were well hidden on our visit). 

Find out more here. 

Bamburgh Castle 

Entry fee applies, dogs welcome in grounds. 

Bellister Castle 

Visit 30 Castles in Northumberland

Free, can view exterior only from nearby walks, dog friendly. Bellister Castle is a castellated 19th-century mansion house attached to the ruinous remains of a 14th-century tower house, near Haltwhistle. We parked on the roadside a little way from the best view of the castle. 

The best view, sadly, is still quite a long way from the castle as the castle is now used as a private residence. 

Belsay Castle 

Free for EH members, dogs welcome in the grounds. Belsay Castle is a 14th-century medieval castle situated at Belsay, Northumberland, England. It is a Scheduled Monument and a Grade I listed building.

Belsay is one of our favourite castles to vist. the grounds are amazing with beautiful gardens and a spectaular walk through the quarry.

Berwick Castle 

Free entry, dog friendly.

Blenkinsopp Castle 

Visit 30 Castles in Northumberland

Free, dog friendly. Borderline Cumbria.  Blenkinsopp Castle is a fire-damaged, partly demolished 19th-century country mansion, incorporating the ruinous remains of a 14th-century tower house.

Blenkinsopp Castle sits in a residential park and is next to the Blenkinsopp Castle Inn which is situated in what was the castles coach stable. Legend has it that Blenkinsopp Castle is haunted by 'The White Lady'  said to be "the widow of Bryan de Blenkinsopp because he left her when she refused to tell him where she had buried her treasure chest." But alas we didn't see her duering our visit. 

Bothal Castle 

Free, can view exterior only from nearby walks, dog friendly.

This castle is a Grade I listed building dating back to 1095. King James I visited the castle in 1617 on his way to Scotland - he stayed for two nights. The Castle was fully restored in the 19th Century and is in an excellent state of repair. 

We visited Bothal Castle in February. You can park in the village and then walk along the road running away from the church to give you the best castle views over the fields. 

If you pass the church, there is a marked path down to the woods / steppy stones which passes pretty close by the castle and gives you an alternative view. 

Please respect their privacy though - this is a private residence. 

Cartington Castle 

Free, dog friendly. 

Chillingham Castle 

Entry fee applies, no pet dogs, maybe visit around Halloween as it's said to be haunted. 

Chipchase Castle 

Only open for a few dates over summer - will add 2023 information once it's released. 

Cresswell Castle 

Visit 30 Castles in Northumberland

Cresswell Castle (or Cresswell Pele Tower) is only open on selected dates (check their website). it is a few minures walk from Cresswell Towers Holiday park on thr way to the beach. It dates back to 1350 and was built to help defend against border reivers who would raid border towns and villages.

Harry told us when he was younger he would explore the woods when staying at Grannie and Granda's caravan and often found himself at the derelict tower. However, between 2019 and 2021 the tower went through extensive restoration thanks to a donation from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  

Dunstanburgh Castle 

Free for EH / NT members, dog friendly. Read our guide to visiting Dunstanburgh Castle here. 

Edlingham Castle 

Edlingham Castle - Northumberland

We visited Edlingham Castle on 7 Jan 2023. It's free to visit and open during daylight hours. It's in a quiet location and we were the only ones there. Dogs on leads are welcome. 

Use postcode NE66 2BW and there is parking for a few cars on the lane just outside the church. The castle is just a short walk through the gate. There are no facilities or seating and I would say you could spend around 30 minutes visiting, longer if you bring a picnic. 

It felt like we were in a remote part of Northumberland and had stumbled upon a secret castle (although I'm sure many know about it). This castle mainly dates back to the 14th Century and the way it splits in two and is leaning is interesting to see. I wonder if it has been struck by lightening in the past? 

We enjoyed a walk around the ruin and checking out the various castle features. It was fairly muddy in places (although easy enough to avoid) so I'd recommend proper walking boots for this one. 

Make a day of it? Bring a picnic blanket and enjoy a peaceful picnic as the kids run around or visit Alnwick and Rothbury which are nearby. There are a couple of signposted walks (less than 2 miles each way) around the castle just by the church and there is a waterfall nearby. 

You can see more photos on my Edlingham Castle Facebook post here or Edlingham Castle Instagram post here. 

Find out more:

Etal Castle 

Free, dog friendly. Etal Castle was built around 1341 and comprised a residential tower, a gatehouse and a corner tower, protected by a curtain wall. The castle was involved both in local feuding and the border wars between England and Scotland.

We love this castle as the village of Etal is such a beautiful place, the Lavendar Tea Rooms in the village are a special treat that you must visit.

Featherstone Castle 

Visit 30 Castles in Northumberland

Private Castle used for events but can be viewed from nearby walks. Featherstone Castle is a Grade I listed building, a large Gothic style country mansion situated on the bank of the River South Tyne.

During World War II the castle was used as a POW camp and housed 7000 German Officers it then became a boys preparatory school in 1950 which ironic for a former prison.

Ford Castle 

Visit 30 Castles in Northumberland

Private Castle used for activity holidays. Can be viewed from nearby walks. Dating back to around 1278 Ford Castle is a Grade I listed building situated on the River Till, Ford, Northumberland, England.

Although you can't go into the castle as it is used as an outdoor activity centre offering residential trips for schools, groups and young people, it does have an impressive entrance way. I'm a big fan of a good portcullis. 

Harbottle Castle 

Free, dog friendly. 

Kielder Castle 


Langley Castle 

Bar / Restaurant / Accommodation. Free tours available. 

Lindisfarne Castle 

Lindisfarne Castle is free to visit for National Trust members (otherwise charges apply). Located on Holy Island, it's super important you check opening hours and tide times before visiting. 

We had visited this castle before but it never gets old. It's circular shape and location is so unique and the views out to the Farne Islands and Bamburgh are just stunning. You can spot seals from the terrace too. 

You can read more about our visit and see more photos over on this Facebook post. 

The castle is furnished as it was in the early 1900s when it was a bit of a party house and there are lots of interesting stories to discover about some of the house guests. Many loved their visits to Lindisfarne but others hated it! I am firmly in the love camp and really enjoyed delving into some of the castle's sectrets. Find out more about visiting here. 

Mitford Castle 

Free, dog friendly, exterior can be viewed from nearby walks. 

There is a small layby just after the church in Miford which gives you the best views of this castle. You can't really get too close as it's private land (we discovered it's actually owned by Freddie Shepherd's family). 

Mitford Castle dates back to the 11th Century and was seized by Sir Gilbert de Middleton during the rebellion in Northumberland in the 1310s. 

The castle was used as a Goal by Sir Gilbert and held several high profile prisoners including Lewis de Beaumont (the Bishop of Durham no less). 

It is a Grade I listed building and on the Buildings at Risk register. 

There are some lovely riverside walks in Mitford. 

Morpeth Castle 

Holiday accommodation, can be viewed from Morpeth Park. Also, there are free open days across the year with Landmark Trust. 

Morpeth Castle is just opposite the lovely William Turner Gardens in Morpeth. Originally dating back to the 11th Century (although not much of the original castle exists now), it has an interesting history. 

Margaret Tudor (sister of Henry VIII and widow of James IV of Scotland) stayed here for 4 months with her brother when she fled Scotland and needed somewhere to hide. 

This castle has passed down the female line of many families over the years and is now owned by the Landmark Trust who completed restoration in the 1990s.

We accidentally photographed the wrong castle when visiting in February. Oops! Will add a proper photo next time we are in Morpeth. 

Norham Castle 

Visit 30 Castles in Northumberland

Free, dog friendly. Norham Castle was founded in 1099 (almost one THOUSAND years ago!) over looking the River Tweed. The Castle changed hands between England and Scotland may time during various battle over the centuries. 

It became more well known in the nineteenth century due to the painting Norham Castle Sunrise by J.M.W. Turner. 

Otterburn Castle 

Restaurant / bar / hotel.

Ponteland Castle 

Now this is my kind of pub! Ponteland Castle is now the Blackbird Pub. A castle was built here by warriors in the 14th Century before being destroyed by Scots as they retreated from Newcastle to Otterburn in 1388. The castle was rebuilt as a Manor House in 1597 and you can still see some of the original features today. 

The pub is dog friendly and our food and service were both excellent. You can see more photos and read more about our visit here. 

This is now the Blackbird Pub. Dog friendly. 

Prudhoe Castle 

Opens 1 April. Free for EH members, Dog friendly.  

Rothley Castle 

Free, dog friendly.

Thirlwell Castle 

Visit 30 Castles in Northumberland

Free, dog friendly. A Grade I listed building from the 12th Century near Hadrians Wall just west of Hexham. Ther most famous resident was Sir Percival Thirlwall who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth where he was standard bearer for Richard III.

There is a lovely walk from the road going past the River Tipalt and a level crossing over the train lines. There was a water station just before the crossing with an honesty box where you can pick up eggs and freshly baked flapjacks (which were delicious by the way). there is also a cute stick library for dogs to enjoy. 

Twizell Castle

Visit 30 Castles in Northumberland

Free, dog friendly. The Grade II listed building is listed on the English Heritage At Risk Register. Twizell Castle is in Poor Order but still looks impressive. 

It is a bit of a hike to get there though, there are a few parking spaces near Twizell Bridge. You then walk through the woods which are on steep incline. You then need to cross over a stile, climb another hill and then cross a field to get to the castle. 

Warkworth Castle 

Warkworth Castle is dog friendly and free to visit for English Heritage members (otherwise charges apply). You can read more about our visit and see more photos here. 

Warkworth Castle dates back to the 12th Century and is in a beautiful spot overlooking the River Coquet. Four new trails have been introduced this year which really help to bring the castle and it's stories to life. Find out more here. 

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30 Castles to visit in Northumberland


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