The secret kingdom 500 is no walk in the park, some of the roads are narrow, some are steep and challenging. The route lets you to discover the best that the ancient kingdom of Northumbria has to offer, from magical and mystical castles, stunning beaches, amazing local produce, with fresh from the sea and land specialties, quaint villages and magnificent towns and cities of the north, or take to the water on an unforgettable cruise to the Farne Islands or across the magnificent Lake District.
The Secret Kingdom 500 offers a truly unique experience, stunning scenery, some of England’s last wildernesses and some of the darkest night skies in the country.
The route for Secret Kingdom 500
The official start and finish point is in Alnwick, Northumberland, although any point along the route can just as easily serve as your starting point. Along the way you’ll visit Holy Island, Berwick, Keswick, Durham and Newcastle, and everywhere in between. You’ll take on every road from a small section of motorway (this is easily bypassed for cyclists), to city streets, to single track country lanes. You’ll see amazing architecture, stunning scenery and plethora of wildlife, so make sure you have your camera ready!
There are no fees to pay, something that we really approved of, the Facebook page has some useful information and posts some beautiful scenery and travel tips, and has a small merchandise shop, and the website which is still under construction but usable gives you access to the free map preloaded with points of interest, handy fuel stations, hospitals and more.
The website also gives some information about the culture of the region, and some of the main towns along the way.
Although this is still fairly new, it has already gained quite a bit of interest amongst the vanlife community, cycling community and classic car communities, and will hopefully bring in much needed tourists to the region after the disastrous consequences of the covid lockdown.
We recommend Alnwick castle, Alnwick gardens, Bamburgh castle, Seahouses boat tours, Holy Island, Lake Windermere, Ravenglass steam railway, Durham Cathedral, The Angel of the North, Newcastle Keep, Newcastle Quayside, Tynemouth Priory, Tynemouth’s beaches, Woodhorn Museum and Amble Harbour as some of the must-see destinations along the way.
If you’re wondering how long it takes to complete the whole route, we drove the entire circuit in a week and stayed at some beautiful locations and saw some amazing sights along the way, but we felt as though we may have rushed it, next time we do it, we’ll make sure to book two weeks off work so we can truly appreciate it!
It is possible to walk and cycle 95% of the route, although this will obviously take significantly longer.
You might also enjoy a visit to Belsay Hall.