Escape to the north to discover coastal castles, wild moorlands, and heritage sites.
From its untamed landscapes to its rich cultural heritage, North East England has both natural and manmade beauty on an epic scale, with some of the last remaining parts of England where swathes of near-wilderness remain. Hike windswept moors and verdant valleys in the region’s three national parks, explore secluded beaches and mediaeval ruins along the Northumberland coast, or experience true Northern hospitality in the cities of Leeds, York, and Newcastle. No matter where you choose, you’re likely to find a scenically situated campsite in this region bounded by the Pennines, Hadrian’s Wall, and the Northumberland coast.
From the patchwork farmlands of the Yorkshire Dales National Park to the sweeping valleys of the North York Moors National Park, it’s easy to see why Yorkshire is nicknamed “God’s Own County.” Along the coast, brooding headlands and windswept beaches provide an alternative backdrop for outdoor adventures, and there are plenty of camping options around Whitby and Scarborough. Don’t miss a walk along the white cliffs of Bempton, famed for their puffin colonies.
For the fit, the Yorkshire Dales even has its own peaks challenge. To claim your Three Peaks certificate, climb Pen-y-Ghent, Ingleborough, and Whernside, covering 24 miles in 12 hours. Alternatively, you could step out on the Coast-to-Coast, a national trail that runs across the Dales (as well as the Lake District and the North York Moors) for 190 miles. For a calmer way to see the national park, step aboard the Settle and Carlisle Railway.
Sandwiched between Yorkshire and Northumberland, County Durham’s most alluring landscapes lie along its borders. To the west, the North Pennines provide a rural playground for hikers and campers, with rambling streams, lush meadows, and heather-blanketed moorlands. To the east, the Durham Heritage Coast has one of the region’s most rewarding coastal walks, crossing sea cliffs and near-deserted beaches.
History and nature meet head-on in Northumberland, with vast rural landscapes and miles of beaches from the dune-backed Druridge Bay to Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh with their shoreside castles. Campers are in for a treat in the Northumberland National Park—along with moorland hikes and mediaeval monuments like Hadrian’s Wall, this is one of the UK’s top destinations for stargazing. Alternatively, head to the coast to walk through the sand dunes, explore castle ruins, and spot puffins, seals, and dolphins.
Newcastle is the unofficial capital of the north, where the cobbled streets harbour a renowned shopping and nightlife scene. Adventurers won’t want to spend too long in the city. Instead, take a boat cruise along the River Tyne, walk the Roman ruins of Hadrian's Wall, or head to the North Sea beaches—Tynemouth Longsands is a surf hotspot from autumn through spring.
Bridging the gap between the North West and the North East, the Yorkshire Dales are also designated as a national park. Covering a much larger area than the Moors, the Dales are an upland area of the Pennines with beautiful dales, or valleys, in between. The countryside here is criss-crossed by rivers, streams and dry-stone walls surrounding isolated farms, barns and wildflower meadows. It’s a delightful place to go camping or glamping and, like the North York Moors and the even-closer, Lake District National Park, is best explored on foot or by bike.
For the fit – the Yorkshire Dales even has its own three peaks challenge. Climb Pen-y-Ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside covering 24 miles in 12 hours to claim your Three Peaks certificate. Alternatively, you could step out on the Coast-to-Coast, a national trail that will take you across the Dales – as well as the Lake District and the North York Moors – a total of 190 miles. For a more sedate way to see the national park, you can step aboard the Settle and Carlisle Railway – and don’t forget to tuck in to some of the region’s Wensleydale cheese for a real taste of the district.
There are plenty of family-friendly campsites in the North East of England; places where kids are welcomed with open arms and facilities have been designed with little ones in mind. Sometimes you’ll find a children’s play area, sometimes a tree swing or a nature trail. But whether or not the facilities are child-centred, take your kids camping and we can almost guarantee the only time they will complain is when the time comes to go home! Kids just love camping—sleeping under canvas, spending time in the great outdoors, making new friends, and the sheer adventure of it all will be enough to keep them amused.
The parents among the Hipcamp team have camped all over the UK with their own children and our guide to family-friendly campsites picks out the very best sites for children. Sometimes we’ve selected a site because it has fab facilities, sometimes because it’s a stone’s throw from a beach good for a paddle, and sometimes because it’s near some of the family-friendly attractions in the North East.
Hiking and caravanning are possible year-round in North East England with the right gear, but the best weather for tent camping is June through September. Each season has a unique allure—purple heather blankets the moors in summertime, autumn is whale-watching season along the coast, and winter brings the best surf.
North East England is not short on places to visit on days out during a camping holiday. Apart from the national parks of Northumberland, North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales, there are plenty of places you might like to discover.
Alnwick Castle is probably the king among castles in the North-East, but the romantic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle and Bamburgh on the Northumberland coast will also have you reaching for the camera. On Lindisfarne (Holy Island), you can visit a castle and Lindisfarne Priory, a place of pilgrimage where the Lindisfarne Gospels are said to have been written.
Elsewhere, Hadrian’s Wall and the remarkably intact Roman forts at Housesteads, Chesters, and Corbridge are all part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site that marks the former boundary of the Roman empire. And if history is your thing, you can also find out about the viking on a visit to York’s well-known Jorvik Viking Centre. Once in York, you won’t want to miss the magnificent cathedral either, York Minster.
The Beamish Open Air Museum, meanwhile, remembers more recent history as a living village with reminders of the 19th and 20th centuries.