History has left its mark on England’s rugged northern frontier and the prehistoric hillforts, ancient castles, fortified bastle houses, ruined abbeys and, of course, Emperor Hadrian’s great wall, all testify to a turbulent past.

The forty short walks in this book visit many of Northumberland’s famed historical attractions including Holy Island, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh – as well as many less well-known ones – on a tour which also takes in rolling moorland, craggy hillsides, verdant gorges, beautiful farmland and a coastline packed with pretty harbours, hidden coves, vast sandy beaches and windswept dunes.

96 pages / 105mm x 148mm / step inside the guide

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‘The English don’t want us and the Scottish won’t have us.’ That phrase sums Northumberland’s history up in a nutshell. For centuries the county was a bloody buffer zone between the two great nations.

The important coastal town of Berwick-upon-Tweed has changed hands no less than thirteen times and the countryside was repeatedly burned and harried as armies marched over the ground and fired it into a smoking wasteland. The Northumbrian people also waged war on themselves in organised violent family gangs known as the Border Reivers – the original Mafia. Think Goodfellas with leather jerkins and steel bonnets instead of Armani suits, Northumbrian accents instead of Italian and lamb stew instead of meatballs and tomato sauce. The Robsons, Charltons, Fenwicks, Forsters and Milburns were just some of the prominent local Reiving families specialising in cattle theft, robbery and murder. They gave the words ‘blackmail’ and ‘bereave’ to the English language. The Romans were the first to find the people of the area, who were then known as the Votadini, so difficult to control that they built a wall stretching from sea to sea in an awesome display of power and authority. There are also some that reckon Northumberland is where the famous Ninth Legion vanished.


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