Think of the North East and you may well think of its industrial heritage, heavy engineering and shipbuilding, but there is far more to the region than that. Vast swathes of wild, empty beaches, magnificent conifer forests, gentle valleys and tranquil reservoirs all await visitors.

The North Pennines and Northumberland National park offers magnificent walks, and the countryside is dotted with imposing fortresses – relics of a troubled past. Hadrian’s Wall conjures up images of marauding tribes and burly Romans, and is stunning in its ambition. The serene Farne Islands are a haven for sea birds, while deer parks and delightful gardens are perfect sites for some relaxing strolling and picnicking.

If you need some urban ‘buzz’, NewcastleGateshead is the place to head for. With a bustling centre, vibrant night life and a cutting-edge cultural scene there is plenty to occupy visitors of all ages. Museums, galleries and historic attractions abound and there are excellent restaurants and café-bars. The Geordies are a proud lot, and the focus for this pride is the city’s premiership football club, also in the heart of the city.

Smaller places such as Durham - with its World Heritage Site status, cathedral, castle and interesting shops - nestling amid breathtaking countryside, and the maritime towns of the Tees Valley are also popular destinations for holidaymakers.

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