England's most northern and sparsely populated county, Northumberland is a remnant of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria which once covered an area stretching from Edinburgh to Sheffield and the river Mersey.
The area has a very long and bloody history due to its proximity to Scotland and has fallen into Scottish hands at least once as the border has shifted over time. The more populous towns are either market towns (Amble, Hexham, Morpeth) and others are former mining communities (Prudhoe, Ashington).
Northumberland has its own dialect, different from the famous Geordie of Newcastle.
The Northumbrian Pipes are a local folk instrument, similar to the Scottish bagpipe.
Ethnically Northumberland is overwhelmingly white and British. While racism against ethnic minorities is not a recorded issue, do be aware that it is very unusual to see a person of a black or Asian background in the county and that people might take a second glance.
The principle London-Edinburgh rail line runs through the county and Berwick-upon-Tweed, to the north, is served frquently by both East Coast  and Cross Country Trains . These operators also serve Morpeth and Alnmouth (for Alnwick), though less frequently.
In most cases it is genrally more convenient to connect with the local rail network at Newcastle Central, which is served by regular trains to Edinburgh, London, the Midlands and South West. From Newcastle, Northern Rail  operate frequent services along the Tyne Valley Line towards Hexham and Carlisle, as well as serving local stations along the East Coast Main Line towards Morpeth, Alnmouth and Chathill.
You generally need a car to get about in Northumberland as it is a rural county. There are some regular bus services on the main routes mainly served by Arriva Northumbria. Bus timetables can be found at Nexus' website  for services to and from Tyne and Wear and traveline  can help you with other routes. There is a cross-county train service from Newcastle upon Tyne to Carlisle, stopping at towns in the Tyne Valley, including Prudhoe, Corbridge, Hexham and Haltwhistle.
Trains from Newcastle stop at Morpeth, Northumberland's county-town.
As is the case for most of Britain's rural counties, Northumberland is an extremely safe county with very low crime levels. The main problems will be in the towns of Morpeth, Alnwick and Berwick on Friday and Saturday nights when alcohol fuelled youths spill into the town's streets. Keep your wits about you as anywhere, but you really would be the most unlucky tourist is a crime was to be committed against you.