Just looking at all the names of the DCI Ryan novel’s is like a tour around the sights of North East England. Each location has its own identity, history and magic. Let’s work our way in order through the books and pay a visit to each of the locations featured in the novels.
Crossing the tidal causeway, you will find yourself on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. It’s easy to see why LJ chose the location as the setting for the first novel. With its historic priory and the castle that rises up over the Island. Many people who visit the Island walk the three mile ancient Pilgrim’s Way that is marked by wooden posts along the sand. Remember the tide and always ensure you study the crossing times before visiting. When Paul worked in Tourist Information the safe crossing times were one of the most frequently asked questions.
Enjoy a real flavour of the Island by visiting Pilgrims Coffee House and Roastery.
We’re moving inland now and very much keeping that sense of history as we head along Hadrian’s Wall to encounter a world famous tree. Sycamore Gap is situated in a dramatic basin that frames it perfectly and is probably one of the most photographed and painted trees in all the world. Many remember it’s appearance in the 1991 film, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, where it’s location in the film is rather off the actual mark.
Stop off at the nearby Sill, the UK’s National Discovery Centre and have a reviving cuppa after a long walk and take in those magnificent surroundings.
Staying in Hadrian’s Wall country and just off the B6318 is the hilltop church of Heavenfield St Oswald. It was here where it is believed that around 634 AD King Oswald raised a large wooden cross before the battle of Heavenfield. It’s located in such a tranquil spot that it’s hard to believe that a battle once took place here.
Make sure you’ve got a flask in your rucksack and take some time out to take in all that history.
Moving through time we now find ourselves at a much more contemporary landmark. Completed in 1998 and celebrating it’s 25th birthday this year, the Angel of the North has become one of the most iconic symbols of the region. The work of sculptor Anthony Gormley it stands 66ft tall and a wingspan of 177ft. For ourselves and so many it’s the sign that after a trip away from the North East that you have come home.
On our bucket list of things we want to do around the region is to watch the dawn from the Angel.
The North East is blessed with some truly breath-taking areas of countryside and the Durham Dales is one of them. Along the river Tees a few miles from the lovely village of Middleton-In-Teesdale you will find the spectacular and dramatic sight of High Force. It is one of the most stunning waterfalls in the land and its rocks have origins that date back to over 300 million years old!
Walk from Bowlees Visitor Centre and cross the Wynch Brdige across the River Tees and walk the Pennine Way path towards High Force to see it from above.
Cragside House and its spectacular grounds were once home to a true visionary. Lord William Armstrong was a Victorian inventor and amongst many other things pioneer of hydroelectricity. His wife Margaret had a passion for gardening, and you can certainly see how her vision transformed the landscape around the house. It’s a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year but do try and get to see the wonderful display of colour from the famous rhododendrons in early summer.
The nearby village of Rothbury makes a perfect place to stop off to enjoy lunch and the village’s butcher’s produce the most amazing award-winning sausages.
Here in the North East the 580 square miles that makes up Kielder’s Water and Forest Park has been granted Dark Sky status. From here you can explore the wonders of the night sky. The Park is also home to Kielder Observatory which has a calendar of Star Gazing events to suit all ages. The area offers wonderful walks, cycling routes and water sport opportunities.
Book yourself onto one of the Observatories fabulous Star Gazing experiences.
For DCI Ryan his experience of the Tyne Bridge was certainly an explosive one! For ourselves we’ll never forget the time we crossed the Tyne Bridge when doing the Great North Run a few years ago. Memories that will stay with you forever. From the more historic High Level Bridge to the latest, the Millennium, these seven bridges that span the Tyne are such a part of the story of Tyneside.
Enjoy a walk along the Quayside taking in the bridges then head along to the Ouseburn and enjoy that stunning view from the Free Trade Inn.
One of our favourite walks is along the river Coquet at Warkworth. Under the gaze of its beautiful castle and following the path you will come to the Hermitage. Situated by tranquillity and built into the rock face, you would never know it was there if it weren’t for the boat moored up to take visitors across during the season.
We’re out to sea now and the sight of Longstone Lighthouse situated on the Outer Farne Islands. The Lighthouse is well known for its part in the 1838 Grace Darling rescue of the survivors of the Forfashire shipwreck. The Farne Islands themselves are habitat for seal’s and seabirds which of course include those wonderful Puffins are so iconic to that part of the Northumberland coast.
Take a trip out to the Farne Islands to see those magnificent Puffins.
The prequel to the DCI Ryan series has us back in and around the streets of Newcastle. The novel begins on a summer Sunday at the Quayside Market. A North East institution, the market plays host to a variety of craft and handmade good stalls as well as a wonderful array of food traders.
Head across the Millennium Bridge to the Baltic Art Gallery. Take the lift up to the viewing gallery and take in the view of the market and spot the famous sights of Newcastle.
Another North East institution happens each June on the city’s Town Moor, the Hopping’s fun fair. Thousands flock to the site to enjoy the rides and attractions. From carousels to big wheels there’s something for all ages. As well as the traditional fayre of chips, burgers and candy floss the Hopping’s now welcomes some the regions most well known street food traders.
Pay an evening visit to the Hopping’s and watch the sun go down over the city on those long summer nights.
Penshaw Monument which has been owned by the National Trust since 1939 and is a Grade 1 listed structure. The Monument can be seen for miles around and the views it offers are absolutely breath-taking. Sunderland AFC have the monument upon their crest and it is such a recognisable symbol of the North East.
Take in the Northern air and the beautiful countryside that surrounds Penshaw by enjoying the circular walk from the site.
We’re up in Border country to Northumberland National Park. Here you will find miles of unspoilt countryside and the perfect place to feel a million miles away from it all. From Hadrian’s Wall to the Cheviot and Simonside Hills there is so much to explore.
If you’re feeling adventurous head to the summit of Simonside and marvel at the 360 degree view of the region. Don’t forget to pack a hearty picnic.
Christmas in Northumberland is always a delight. With so many markets taking place that offer gorgeous gifts designed and made by creatives from all around the region. Many of Northumberland’s historic properties offer festive experiences where you can step back in time and learn about many of the season’s traditions.
Belsay Hall and Garden’s always host fabulous festive days out for all the family.
Durham is one of the country’s most historic cities and its magnificent cathedral stands tall and proud over the city. The view of the Cathedral from the train is one of the most famous and loved in all the land. Walking the city’s cobbled streets and the sights of all its historic buildings you really feel that you are stepping back in time.
Walk along the river and look up at that much photographed view of the Cathedral. Visit Durham’s indoor market and meander through its stalls and then pop into one of the city’s fabulous eateries.
St Cuthbert's Way is a 100-kilometre long-distance trail that stretches between Melrose in the Scottish Borders to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Those who walk the way are literally walking in the footsteps of history following the route of St Cuthbert.
If you love walking, make a break of it this summer and explore the route. There’s so many gorgeous places for an overnight stay.
If we’re talking about “The Rock”, for the North East that can only mean Marsden. This area is a stunning part of the regions coastline and built into the cliff face you will find the famous Marsden Grotto. With a history linked to smuggling activities the Grotto is now a hotel, restaurant and beach bar which is accessed via it’s famous cliff lift.
Book a meal at the Grotto and dine in the most unique of surroundings.
Bamburgh village with its magnificent castle that is one of the most famous sights of the Northumberland coast. The castle was home to the Anglo Saxon Kings of Northumbria. In 2021 the castle played host to that intrepid archaeologist Indian Jones where filming took place for the latest film in the series.
Walk along Bamburgh’s gorgeous long and sandy beach then back into the village for a well earned pint and a bite to eat.
In the rural Northumberland village of Holystone there's poisoning and murder afoot in DCI Ryan's latest case.
Thankfully though in our world, things are a little more peaceful. Holystone itself is a beautiful village that lies in the parish of Harbottle. The Lady's Well in question supplies water to the village and like much of Northumberland is steeped in history that dates back to Roman times.
It’s fair to say we’ve covered some miles and experiences in the footsteps of DCI Ryan. To recap the full list of DCI Ryan books in order:
1. Holy Island
2. Sycamore Gap
5. High Force
7. Dark Skies
11. The Infirmary (PREQUEL)
12. The Moor
15. Ryan's Christmas
16. The Shrine
17. Cuthbert's Way
18. The Rock
20. Lady's Well