Northumberland: Northern Highlights
Reader Mandy Huggins from West Yorkshire reveals a soft spot for Northumberland.
The Northumberland Coast Walk
Our favourite part of the english coastline is Northumberland, and my partner Mark and I go back year after year. The Northumberland Coast Walk is hard to beat, as the dramatic landscape is scattered with castles, coves and cliffs, and punctuated by tiny seaside villages and uninhabited islands.
Alnmouth makes a good base—we stayed in the centre of the village in a cottage called The Watchtower, which was once a coastguard’s lookout. It’s tucked away in the grounds of a large house and has its own secluded terrace and open views over the estuary from the upstairs living room.
There’s a good choice of pubs, shops and restaurants. We spent a lot of time in The Red Lion—a coaching inn full of character, serving local beers and great food. I recommend the crab sandwiches for a bar lunch, and in the evening we dined in the restaurant and enjoyed the Northumberland venison sausage and Craster kipper pâté.
On our walks, we discovered the puffin and tern colonies on Coquet Island and the mudflats at Lindisfarne. We warmed up with a cup of tea after a stroll around the magnificent gardens at Howick Hall, erstwhile home of Earl Grey, and stocked up with delicious Craster kippers before walking to the impressive remains of Dunstanburgh Castle.
At the Ship Inn in Low Newton they brew their own beers, with wonderful names such as Sandcastles at Dawn and Red Herring. They do a mean crab sandwich as well. The sunsets in this part of the world are beautiful—dusk at Bamburgh Castle takes some beating.
A few miles inland from Alnmouth is Alnwick, where you can visit the castle and its fabulous gardens (where Harry Potter was filmed), or spend hours in the secondhand book shop Barter Books. It’s worth taking a bag of unwanted books with you—they then credit you with a value to spend in the shop. But I warn you, it’s difficult to come away with fewer books than you went in with!
(01665 830 783, northumbria-cottages.co.uk) has three-night stays at The Watchtower in Alnmouth (sleeps two) from £221. Single rail fares from London to Alnmouth start at £16 (03457 225