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  • Writer's pictureGreen Traveller

Car-free Guide to Northumberland National Park

As we launch our Green Traveller's Guide to Northumberland National Park, here's our guide to travelling to and around Northumberland National Park without a car.

Cycling the Otterburn Ranges. Photo: Northumberland NPAA.

Getting to Northumberland without a car:

By Train: While Newcastle is not in the National Park, it is a major gateway city and is well connected by rail. East Coast links Edinburgh, York, Peterborough and London to Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed; Virgin operates services from London, Manchester, Glasgow, Carlisle, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham and South West England; and Transpennine services serves Newcastle from Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and York.

From Newcastle, the Tyne Valley Line takes you into the southern part of Northumberland National Park, with stations close to Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site. Key stations for visitors are located at Wylam, Prudhoe, Stocksfield, Riding Mill, Corbridge, Hexham, Haydon Bridge, Bardon Mill and Haltwhistle. Trains are operated by Northern Rail and First ScotRail.

By Coach or Bus: There are National Express and Megabus services from throughout the UK to Newcastle and Carlisle. From Newcastle or Carlisle, there are various Arriva, Go North East and Stagecoach services into the National Park, as well as a summer service called The Hadrian’s Wall Country Bus, which links major sites along the Hadrian’s Wall corridor between Newcastle and Carlisle (services operating out of both cities; more information below).

B. Getting around without a car:

By Train: The principal line of use for visitors to Northumberland National Park is the Tyne Valley Line, which links Newcastle and Carlisle with destinations along the Tyne Valley through Hadrian’s Wall country, a full list of useful stations can be found above. Though this line doesn’t cover the whole of the National Park, there are many inspiring walks to be made from the stations along the line, the national trail offers a selection of walks in the East Tyne Valley and walks in the West Tyne Valley, accessible by railway.

By Bus: Part of the beauty of Northumberland National Park is its isolated, rural nature: this is a place where you can really escape to windswept hill and dark skies. The corresponding lack of population centres does however mean that much of the National Park remains beyond the reach of regular bus services. There are still some useful services for visitors, however most of these are concentrated in and around the more populated Tyne Valley to the south.

Hadrian’s Wall Country Bus The flagship bus service for Northumberland National Park is the AD122 Hadrian’s Wall Country Bus (commemorating the year in which construction of the Wall commenced). Running from Easter throughout the summer, it operates a hop-on, hop-off system of ‘rover’ tickets with a one-, three-, and seven-day pricing structure (reductions for students, children, and families); the tickets are also valid on some other local routes such as the 10, 185, 880 and Tynedale Links. There is also provision to carry bikes, if pre-booked (more information below).

The AD122 runs between Newcastle and Carlisle, stopping at Corbridge, Hexham, Once Brewed National Park Visitor Centre, Haltwhistle, Gilsland, Brampton, and various points in between: see the timetable

Other bus services 10/10A: Hexham - Corbridge - Stocksfield - Prudhoe - Rockwood Hill (10A) - Greenside (10A) - Crawcrook - Ryton - Blaydon - Metrocentre - Newcastle 14/X14: Newcastle - Morpeth (for East Coast mainline and local railway services) - Thropton (located just to the east of the National Park). Service offering access to the northern parts of the National Park. 185: Carlisle – Brampton – Gilsland – Haltwhistle 685 Carlisle – Newcastle and X85 Hexham - Newcastle 808: Newcastle – Otterburn 880: Hexham – Bellingham (- Kielder) Tynedale Links runs various local services to rural areas of the Tyne Valley. National Express 383 services connects Newcastle with Edinburgh through Northumberland National Park, stopping at Otterburn and Byrness.

Cycling Mile after mile of wonderful country lanes offering spectacular views, with barely a vehicle in sight: this is what awaits cyclists in Northumberland. Combined with extensive off-road trails, cycle hubs, and well-marked routes, Northumberland is a cyclist’s dream – from families looking for quiet, flat roads to mountain bikers seeking a challenge and a thrill.

If you want to bring your two-wheeled friend along, all mainline train services (and many local ones) have spaces for bikes, but to avoid problems or disappointment, it is always best to reserve your spot in advance. To do this, you can either call the train operator, or head to your local railway station’s ticket office. The majority of buses in the area do not take bikes, however it may occasionally be possible at the drivers’ discretion. One notable exception is the AD122 Hadrian’s Wall Country Bus: however you must contact the service operator before 3pm the day before intended travel – click here for contact numbers.

If you want to hire a bike upon arrival in Northumberland, or get hold of maps and useful advice and information, there is a wide range of cycle provision on offer both in the National Park and around (in places such as Newcastle). Check out the National Park’s visitor website for a full list of bike hire and cycle providers.

Two of the major long distance cycle routes which run through Northumberland National Park are the Pennine Cycleway and Reivers Cycle Route; the National Park also boasts two cycle hubs at Wooler (starting point for the Wooler Wheel, a scenic cycle ‘challenge’ through the Cheviot Hills) and Haltwhistle. Around Bellingham, the lovely Kielder Forest boasts a wonderful array of routes for cyclists of different abilities, plus its own cycle challenge.

Sustrans offers great information and route ideas for cyclists and sustainable travellers in Northumberland and beyond, and for a wealth of information and links to cycle resources, have a look at Northumberland National Park cycling page.

Electric Vehicles The National Park also has a network of electric vehicle charging posts, from Hadrian’s Wall to the Cheviots and the Scottish border. Why not recharge your batteries with a lovely walk in the hills, whilst your car does the same! 

Maps and further information On the official Park website there's an interactive map of the Northumberland National Park.

For more maps, plus a whole host more information, guides and friendly local advice, head to the award-winning Once Brewed National Park Centre. There are also several other tourist information centres in the National Park and surrounding area.

For more information about visiting Northumberland National Park, see the websites of the Northumberland National Park and Visit Nortumberland.


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