Last week I spent a couple of days in Northumberland, in a cottage very close to St Cuthbert’s Cave. Having grown up in Cumbria, I’m reasonably familiar with the Northumbrian coast and always enjoyed days out at Druridge Bay, and then going further up the coast for fish and chips at Seahouses before returning home. However, there was still plenty which I hadn’t explored before (or it had been a long time ago) and so I was excited to return and add to my knowledge of the area. Here’s a small overview of what I got up to…
I’d been through Berwick on the train before, but had never actually visited the town so was looking forward to seeing what it had to offer. The viaduct provides a good photo opportunity and we discovered a lovely wooden boat sculpture along the riverside path. The town walls provide coastal views and I would recommend the walk around them. If you enjoy art, there is also a Lowry trail. We enjoyed lunch at the Youth Hostel which allowed dogs in a certain area and had an art gallery upstairs. I liked Berwick, but wouldn’t rush back. Although I think I need to return on a brighter day that isn’t a Sunday to fully appreciate the town!
St Cuthbert’s Way
If you enjoy walking, there are plenty of different routes that you can take around the countryside or along the coast. As it was so close to where we were staying, we visited St Cuthbert’s Cave and then walked a small section of St Cuthbert’s Way which I would recommend. We had views of the Cheviot Hills on one side of us, and views of the coast and Lindersfarne on the other side – it was like being in two separate places at once!
The Farne Islands
If you like birds, then the Farne Islands is somewhere that you should definitely visit. I can usually take or leave birds, but by the end of the boat trip I was a big puffin fan! It’s an informative trip and you should get to see grey seals too. One and a half hours is long enough to see everything, but you can opt for a longer tour where you get to land on one of the islands too. Word of warning – birds aren’t the most fragrant creatures…
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is a tidal island, which means that it can only be reached at certain times of day/night. If you are going to visit, make sure you check the tide times as you don’t want to get stranded! The two main sites on the island are Lindisfarne Castle and Lindisfarne Priory. The Castle is currently undergoing restoration works, which means that a few of the rooms are a little empty. I enjoyed it, but think it is only worth visiting if you already have National Trust Membership. The Priory is in ruins but has a small museum which provides additional information about the site. If you’d prefer just to have a wander round, you’ll still get to see both landmarks and you should have time for a walk along the rocky beach. Remember to keep a look out for seals off the shore!
Bamburgh Castle is one of the many fantastic castles in Northumberland and is privately owned. I found the first couple of rooms slightly uninspiring, they were largely just filled with a multitude of different ornaments, but enjoyed it more the further round we went. I would definitely recommend buying the £1 guide book as it contains some interesting facts and makes you feel as though you have had a bit more of a tour. I’d also recommend the fudge when you get to the gift shop – it’s still produced within the castle kitchens.
My favourite day trip of the holiday was definitely to Alnwick Castle and Gardens, which received a blog post in its own right! Whilst the weather wasn’t fantastic (which you have to be prepared for in the UK), there was plenty to do and I left feeling like there would be plenty more to do if I returned. Staying for longer than the (slightly packed) four days I was? Make sure you visit Cragside (my favourite National Trust property) and spend some time on the beautiful sandy beaches!
If, like me, you are a castle fan, I’d recommend checking out On the Luce’s Castle-Lovers Guide to Northumberland!