Northumberland Roundup

Well I can now say I’ve been to Northumberland.  It was something that has been on the list of things to do for a while and I have to say I was quite enamoured with the place.  The beaches are clean and quiet, the views of the castles perched on the cliff tops are something else, the Cheviots offer challenging hiking, the “local” people are very friendly and the ice cream selection is excellent too.

Here are some pictures and a list of the best (and worst) things about our week away.

Favourite walk – We are split on this one.  My favourite was the walk south from Budle Bay back to the campsite at Beadnell Bay through Bamburgh and Seahouses.  Paul was quite partial to our walk up The Cheviot.

 The Cheviots and Lindisfarne 018 Kielder Stane and Forest 010Coastal Walk - Banburgh, Seahouses 020 Coastal Walk - Dunstanburgh Castle, Embelton and Beadnell Bay 046

Favourite castle – Lots to choose from (Featherstone, Lindisfarne, Dunstanburgh, Alnwick) but Bamburgh stood above the rest due to its current condition, cliff top aspect, historic defendability and the pretty little village in which it was based.

 South Tyne Train Line 018 Coastal Walk - Banburgh, Seahouses 012 Coastal Walk - Dunstanburgh Castle, Embelton and Beadnell Bay 009 Coastal Walk - Dunstanburgh Castle, Embelton and Beadnell Bay 036 

The Cheviots and Lindisfarne 035 Coastal Walk - Dunstanburgh Castle, Embelton and Beadnell Bay 044

Favourite campsite – Berwick-on-Tweed.  The campsite had an amazing view overlooking the town and the sea and the facilities were the best of those we had stayed at.  I’m sure the sun cracking the flags helped to sway the decision in Berwick’s favour but it also had good accessibility as you could walk into town too. 

 Alnwick and Cragside 060 Berwick-on-Tweed 003

Best drive – Driving to the Holy Island across the causeway was surreal.  And Stella seemed particularly excited about it too for some reason – I guess she could smell the sea and the beach.

 The Cheviots and Lindisfarne 030

Best pub – The Albion Inn, Spittal.  Although they didn’t serve food as we had expected, they were the friendliest bunch and made us feel very welcome.  Stella got such a fuss too.

Favourite meal – Our BBQ at the campsite on the last night of the holiday.  Yummy lamb and mint burgers enjoyed after falling asleep on the grass in the afternoon sun. 

 BBQ & Spittal Beach 002

Favourite ice cream – Again we were split on this one.  For me it was peanut brittle.  For Paul, white chocolate chip.

Biggest surprise – The weather we had.  It only rained one night and it was “proper” summer weather for the last couple of days as well.  We couldn’t have hoped for more than that. 

BBQ & Spittal Beach 005 Coastal Walk - Dunstanburgh Castle, Embelton and Beadnell Bay 064

 Best discovery – The way out of the Labyrinth in the grounds of the national trust property Cragside House after a couple of, “haven’t we been here before…” moments and the help of the iphone compass…

 Alnwick and Cragside 052 Alnwick and Cragside 034

Best electronic gizmo – My new compact system camera which was a pre-holiday surprise/Canada Day present from Paul.  It’s awesome.  Hopefully the pictures speak for themselves.   

Craziest people – Those children swimming in Beadnell Bay which seemed to be part of an organised school event.  That day, I was quite comfortable walking with my fleece on and I certainly wouldn’t have considered taking clothing off to get into the North Sea!  Pure craziness. 

Funniest thing – When Stella found a dummy on the campsite and decided to suck on it! (And then chew on it….)

The Cheviots and Lindisfarne 011

Biggest disappointment – The dog unfriendliness of Alnwick Castle and Gardens – no access permitted at all.  I wasn’t expecting to be allowed in the castle but had looked forward to exploring the grounds and seeing the castle that was used as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies.  And it was difficult to get a good view of the castle from the town too.  Boo all around. 

Biggest annoyance – The midges in Kielder Forest.  They were everywhere.  Yuck.  We reduced our stay at the campsite there from 2 nights to 1 in order to avoid coming home completely covered in bites.  It’s a shame as the forest was amazing but lesson learned – our next visit will definitely be out of midge season. 

Most appropriate adjective to describe Northumberland – Unspoilt.

 Kielder Stane and Forest 023 Alnwick and Cragside 007

Best thing about the holiday – Uninterrupted time together. Ahhhh.  Blah. 

 The Cheviots and Lindisfarne 001

We both look forward to one day returning to the county for more walking in the Cheviots, a greater exploration of Kielder Forest (outside of midge season, of course), an investigation of some of the smaller, less well publicised castles in the area and more time on the beautiful beaches. 

 And in the meantime, we both recommend a visit wholeheartedly.