Home to the largest protected night sky area in Europe, Northumberland is famous for its starry nights and iconic landscape that’s begging to be explored – a trip camping in Northumberland is, in our opinion, the best way to do just that! This unspoiled part of North East England offers you endless possibilities to discover awe-inspiring beauty, alongside history, heritage and culture.
There are several campsites in and around Northumberland to choose from – we recommend some of our top picks in this article. We also look at wild camping in Northumberland later on in this article too.
So grab your tent and walking boots – let’s begin your Northumberland camping adventure!
Camping in Northumberland: Skygazing and nature at its best
Dotted with ruinous castles set in lush green surroundings, Northumberland will please visitors of all ages with endless day-trip possibilities and unforgettable experiences. The striking beauty of Northumberland National Park awaits you with ancient relics, remote footpaths, memorable stargazing experiences, stunning waterfalls and wild Cheviot Goat-spotting! Look out for Chillingham Wild Cattle too – they’re thought to be rarer than wild pandas!
We recommend visiting the magnificent remains of Hadrian’s Wall, as well as Alnwick Castle where many Harry Potter scenes were filmed.
Camping in Northumberland is therefore a perfect holiday for visitors and families looking to enjoy nature, get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, or even tackle a multi-day hiking or cycling trip.
There are many great campsites in Northumberland, and a good quality walking in Northumberland book – like this one – can help you plan what campsites may be of interest to you if you’re planning a walking and camping holiday.
Wild camping is technically not allowed – unless you have the permission of the land owner. However many people still do it, particularly when visiting the Northumberland National Park. If you can’t be persuaded to stay in a campsite, then we have more information on wild camping in Northumberland, and tips to be a responsible camper later on in this article.
However if you’re looking for some great campsite recommendations, below we share a few of our favourite campsites in Northumberland. All of which are perfectly located close or within the iconic Northumberland National Park, and therefore ideal for walking, hiking and nature enthusiasts.
Camping in Northumberland: Some of the best campsites in Northumberland
River Breamish Caravan Club
Set in beautiful countryside just outside the boundaries of Northumberland National Park, River Breamish Caravan Club is a serene campsite with great amenities. This campsite is also within walking distance to the charming Breamish Valley; the perfect spot for discovering forts, medieval villages and remnants from the Neolithic and Bronze Age.
Set amid the Cheviot Hills, campers can also enjoy rewarding river views, and go wildlife spotting in the lush green valley. The on-site pitches are large, level and well spaced and sit amongst lots of greenery. The campsite is also perfectly located to explore the local nature reserve, rivers and lakes, either by foot, or by cycling the quiet country roads here.
This campsite claims to be the most remote site in England, and we tend to agree! In verdant forest surroundings, Kielder Campsite is located at the centre of a Dark Sky Park, and so has some of the best sky-gazing opportunities in Europe.
Due to its remote geographic location, there is no wifi or phone service. Staying here will therefore give you a unique opportunity to put away electronics and truly reconnect with nature.
With their low light policy, no music after 10.00pm rule, and no vehicle access onto the campsite grass, this site is as close to nature as you can get.
Kielder Campsite has good facilities but with the nearest big villages of Newcastleton and Bellingham approximately half an hour drive away from the campsite, it’s best to stock up before arriving.
Bellingham Camping and Caravanning Club
Open most of the year, Bellingham Camping and Caravanning Club offers you a friendly welcome in a charming setting! Although quite a small campsite, it does have 70 level grass pitches, and good facilities. The village of Bellingham is close by too.
Located just inside the boundary of Kielder Forest Park, campers will appreciate the peace and quiet here. This campsite was an instant heart-stealer for us due to the warm welcome, friendly staff, close proximity to stunning waterfalls, lakes and great food choices nearby! There are three good pubs within walking distance, whilst the site is just 16 miles from Hadrian’s Wall.
Located in a very tranquil location amongst a magnificent forest and moorland setting, Stonehaugh Campsite sits within Northumberland National Park and between Kielder Forest Park and Hexham. With its remote location, campers should note that the closest shop is in Warx about 20 minutes drive away – so come well prepared.
Visitors can enjoy great amenities on site, along with unique opportunities for wildlife spotting. However we love this site due to the captivating starry nights that you can enjoy here, and all from the comfort of your own tent.
Wild camping in Northumberland
Northumberland’s landscape is idyllic for anyone seeking to discover wildlife, explore ancient ruins, or immerse themselves in nature. With some of England’s cleanest rivers, clearest air and darkest skies, it’s little surprise that many people wish to wild camp here.
Yet like other areas of England , wild camping in Northumberland is not technically allowed, although people still do it. However campers are allowed to pitch their tent if they have the permission of a landowner – albeit that’s often easier said than done.
Yet the scenic views, renowned national park and dark skies that make up Northumberland make it a tempting destination for wild camping, whether you’ve got permission or not. Therefore if you are planning to free camp in Northumberland – and can’t be swayed to stay in a campsite instead – we’ve compiled the following guidelines to help you camp in a considerate manner:
You should camp in the same place for one night only, and pitch your tent discretely and in a remote place which will not be easily seen. Therefore don’t camp in or near settlements, someone’s farm or on cultivated land. If you think you’re on private land, always try and seek out the landowner and ask permission. They may request a small fee.
Campers should set up their tent at dusk, and take it down at dawn. A tent that is discreet, blends in with the landscape, and pitches quickly is best. Therefore a lightweight walking tent like this one would be a great investment for someone planning to go wild camping in Northumberland.
Most hikers and walkers tolerate camping beside trails that involve multi-day hikes – after all, serious walkers need somewhere to sleep! However as a matter of courtesy you should camp away from any path, and pitch your tent at dusk and take it down at dawn.
Respect the leave no trace policy and take any rubbish with you. Leave your camping spot exactly the way you found it.
Below are our top tips for camping in Northumberland:
- Heavy rain can happen in Northumberland – even during the summer months. Therefore make sure you have a rainproof tent that can survive rain. A lightweight one-man walking tent like this or similar would be perfect. For a good value tent that fits more than one person, this mosquito-proof one would work well too.
- There are shops close to the national park but remember to always have plenty of water on you when you’re walking and camping. A space-saving collapsible water bottle would be a good purchase.
- If you’re wild camping, then go to the toilet at least 30-50 meters away from water sources, such as rivers. Make sure to use a trowel (like this folding one) to bury any human waste at least six inches under ground. Take any tissue paper with you – use a ziplock bag to store it and dispose of it in the nearest bin.
Camping in Northumberland: The weather and best months to visit
With a prevailing oceanic climate in Northumberland, the average annual temperature is around 14 degrees Celcius, however the average temperature is around 18°C in summer, which makes it the best season to explore this region.
The ocean is often calm and clear in the summer months too, and the 30 miles of sweeping coastline here makes for an excellent getaway or day-trip for families wishing to soak up the sun!
The Spring months (March to May) are also ideal for bird-watchers and nature lovers, as it is blooming season for attractive daffodils and Japanese Taihaku cherry blossoms. These months are also a perfect time to take a ferry to Northumbria’s Farne Islands as that is when Puffin chicks – called pufflings – can be seen!
Autumn is all about coziness and frost-tipped landscapes. Visitors can make the most of the long dark nights too, as Northumberland is a stargazing sweet spot for any space enthusiast!
Winter can be a magical time for those wanting to explore the national park as it sometimes snows – creating a real winter wonderland. However that also means it can be chilly and paths can be slippery. Therefore if you are planning on walking during these colder months, make sure you have proper gear.