I’d read about the wild and stunning Northumberland scenery and its rugged coastline, but always wondered whether it was worth a trip, especially as there didn’t seem anywhere decent to stay and I was never into Harry Potter, which was filmed up there.
So, when I heard about a medieval pub in a quaint village which was undergoing a smart makeover, I got the long weekend booked. And, I have to say, I’m so glad I did. Julian and I left asking why, as lovers of Great Britain’s big country (not the 80’s band incidentally), we hadn’t been before.
Now, when I say Northumberland, I don’t mean the bit just over the county border from Newcastle. I’m talking about north Northumberland, the vast expanse of sheep blotted wilderness and pretty villages between the Pennines and the sea, stretching beyond Alnwick (of Hogwarts fame) all the way up to the Scottish Borders.
Here you’ll find a coastline dotted with castles, expansive sandy beaches and big, big skies. There’s a wonderful walk from the ghostly ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, around wide Embleton Bay and on to the tiny hamlet of Lower Newton. After a swift pint at the local pub, the return walk takes you along the wind swept sand dunes that fringe the bay, before returning to Craster for some of its famous kippers.
Northumberland is (apparently) the least populated county in England with large swathes designated areas of outstanding natural beauty. We couldn’t agree more with that statement - we didn’t see a single soul on our 10 mile walk across the unspoilt rolling landscape on a bank holiday weekend - which is not something you can say in the Lake District!
Off the coast you have tiny islands famed for their wildlife where you can expect to find grey seals, kittiwakes and Atlantic puffins. Some, like Holy Island, with the iconic Lindisfarne Castle, can be accessed on foot, but only at low tide so please don’t get stuck on the causeway! Others, such as the Farne Islands, are accessed via proper sea faring boats skippered by old salty old dogs decked in thick roll neck sweaters, with faces as weather beaten as the local castles!
If you’re an outdoorsy type and you’ve never been to Northumberland you really should give it a try. Not only is the scenery vast and stunning, the people are so friendly and welcoming. I can give you the name of a great pub to stay at, or a high-end holiday rental company if you’d like to stay longer and explore further.
[Photo Credits: Julian and hotel's own]