Taking a trip from one coast to another is a fun challenge. It is satisfying to tick off the miles seeing the sights from sea to shining sea. In the north of England the distance between coasts is not far. The Roman Emperor Hadrian picked one of the narrowest points of the British Isles for his wall, and accidentally invented a coast to coast route.
Coast to coast in a family car
While the Roman armies may have marched energetically all along Hadrian’s wall, I’m going to make this a bit easier and suggest a coast to coast road trip by car. I’ve picked a route which expands on Hadrian’s idea. There are so many things to do between Newcastle and the Lake District coast. Taking in Northumberland and Cumbria, this really is a fabulous area for a family holiday.
1. Enjoy Music at the Sage
The Sage arts venue is a stunning building in Gateshead with regular music events for all ages. It’s worth a visit just to admire the amazing architecture and the views along the waterfront.
2. Try out Falconry
One of many fun things to do in Newcastle is to take part in a falconry activity, which doesn’t need to cost a fortune if you book through Groupon. It’s special to get up close to some amazing birds of prey and to learn to fly them from the professionals.
3. Photograph exotic animals
One more Newcastle activity I found on Groupon before we move on to the next location: Improve your photography at a workshop with a difference. Your models for the event are exotic animals. Combine your love of animals and photography while getting some unique shots.
4. Explore a Roman Fort
There are endless chances to discover Roman remains on this route but Vindolanda Fort is one of the biggest Roman sites. Built to garrison the army guarding the wall, discoveries are still being made there.
5. Swim outdoors at Haltwhistle
This little northern town with a cute name has three heated outdoor swimming pools. There aren’t many outdoor pools in the north so it’s quite special, and there’s a nice flume too. It’s run by the council so it’s great value and a popular tourist attraction.
6. Cycle in the North Pennines
I’m going to share a secret with you – there is better family cycling here than there is in the cycling capital of the Yorkshire Dales. As it’s “just” an AONB (not a national park) the North Pennines has less tourists and very few cars. This AONB is as big as the Dales and as beautiful as any area of the Pennine chain, yet quieter.
7. Visit Carlisle Castle
I don’t know about you, but for us no family holiday is complete without a castle visit. Carlisle has a nice big castle which has been on this strategic point near the Scottish border for over 900 years.
8. Get out on a Lake
Hire a canoe and have an adventure in the Lake district. Or if you don’t want to risk getting wet, take a ride on an historic steam boat.
9. Ride a Narrow Gauge Railway
We do love our railway treats! From the Lake District coast at Ravenglass you can catch the La’al Ratty miniature steam train for a ride of 7 miles up to Eskdale. Explore the beautiful meadows in the hill country and ride back again.
Do you like the idea of taking a coast to coast trip in this part of the world? Perhaps you’re located north of here and actually this is “coast to coast” in the south! Let me know in the comments.
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More road trips on the blog: How we planned our American Midwest road trip.