Northumberland Coast – Where to go and what to do
The Northumberland Coast is only a few hours drive from where we live in Leeds. Recently, we have begun quite a love affair with the Northumberland Coast, having stayed there four times last year including our most recent New Years stay. The Northumberland Coast is beautiful with large expanses of beach which are almost empty apart from the odd dog walker, the skies go on forever and at night the sky is as black as ink (National Dark Sky Park)
A good base is Alnwick, this enables you to be able to nip out to the beach but also enjoy the benefits of a market town. Alnwick was voted best place to live in the UK and I can understand why.
- Alnwick gardens
- Barter books (the birthplace of the whole Keep Calm and Carry On phenomenon)
- Alnwick castle
- The Treehouse restaurant
- The Tanners Arms pub
- The Cheese Room (Great cheese shop and deli selling some fantastic local cheese as well as all your favourites)
- The farmers market
- Harry Potter
When we have stayed in Alnwick we have opted for self catering so that the dog can come too but there are lots of other options.
From Alnwick, if you drive south along the coast road for 9 miles (15 minutes) you will come to Amble. This guide then works back along the coast route North from Amble
Amble is a true fishing village. It has the best fish and chips I have ever tasted from the Quayside, but don’t fill up too much as there is an amazing little ice cream parlour/ coffee shop called spurelli who serve delicious hand made roasted Sicilian pistachio ice-cream (or if you are very lucky gingerbread ice cream).
Driving back towards Alnwick you will come to Warkworth a very pretty village with a great big imposing castle on a hill, it is full of gift shops and cute restaurants as well as a beach.
Next stop is Alnmouth with its beautiful long stretch of beach. Though it is where my dog found a dead seal carcass and decided to roll in it as he thought it was the best thing he had ever smelled. Don’t let this put you off though, it is a great long golden beach and we return here time after time, it is usually the beach we stop off at on our way up to the cottage to give everyone’s legs a stretch.
Just after Alnmouth you come to the small village / hamlet of longhoughton and here is a fantastic beach called Sugar Sands (because the sand looks like sugar I guess!). Turn off at the village shop and follow the sign for Low Stead Farm, when you get to the farm go through the gates and park at the bottom – they do ask for a voluntary 50p donation for the church funds. This beach has great rock pools and is beautiful.
Next is Craster, which I keep meaning to go to but I always run out of time but make sure you do go and get some of their famous kippers.
Embleton is next, this is my favourite beach it is glorious. Park at Dunstaburgh Golf course (where they do a decent take away coffee and they will happily let you use their toilets) walk through the links and be greeted by a giant crescent of a beach with a castle at one end (Dunstaburgh) and the impossibly pretty village of Low-Newton-By-The-Sea (which is part owned by the National Trust) at the other. My top tip would be to walk along the beach to Low Newton where you can enjoy a fantastic pub lunch of local crab sandwiches and real ale at the Ship Inn. If the weather is really foul then you can drive to Newton By The Sea , if The Ship is busy, or you fancy something more substantial then head for the Joiners Arms which is fantastic.
The next place we really love is Bamburgh with its magnificent Castle and very long golden beach with probably the best views of not only the Farne islands but also Lindisfarne (Holy Island) and the Castle. I can also highly recommend the sausages from the local butchers to take home for your tea or have for breakfast the next morning.
What you need to know
Northumberland is cold, it is further North than you probably realise. It is in fact parallel with the Isle of Arran (which I thought was where the jumpers were from but that is the other Aran!). Make sure you pack a good thick waterproof coat (check out John Lewis for some great North face coats), waterproof shoes (neoprene wellies are the best as they keep your feet warm and dry), hat and gloves, however don’t be surprised to see the locals walking about in shorts and t shirts they are a hardy lot. The beaches can be particularly bracing from Autumn to Spring.
There are not many petrol stations, so if you are venturing out remember to fill up before, the same goes for cash machines they can often be empty so make sure you have enough cash for fish and chips!
Don’t forget to go inland too. We love going over to Rothbury and Otterburn and visiting the famous Cragside . There are some great walks as well as it being part of the National Dark sky Park (night comes early in the middle of winter) so bring a torch and some binoculars and wrap up warm.
We have stayed with coquet cottages many times because the cottages are all lovely 4 and 5 star with king size beds and beautifully furnished, they also allow dogs (they even give them their own welcome basket). We have also stayed in a yurt in the summer with the dog which was wonderful (see previous post). If I planned better I would look at National trust Cottages who have some lovely properties but they always seem to be booked up when I want to go.
So don’t worry about the time of year, pack a bag and head of to the Northumberland coast it is wonderful. It is so good that I am going back next month with my mum and both our dogs!
If you have any top tips for places to go, see, shop or eat at let me know
Photos courtesy of Mr Happen-Upon copyright Happen-Upon