Northumberland – A Spectacular Coastline

Northumberland is the most northern county of the UK.  With a magnificent coastline, fascinating history and great fish and chips, it’s an inspiring place to visit.

Stretching from the River Coquet Estuary in North East England 100 miles to Berwick-Upon-Tweed on the Scottish Border, the coastline of Northumberland has many sites of historic interest.

As a much invaded county, there are plenty of castles, ruins, and old fortifications.  Alnwick castle, slightly inland from the coast, featured as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films, has magnificent gardens, and events such as Broomstick Training throughout the year. Alnwick is just one of about 18 castles scattered around the district.

Bamburgh Castle, originally the home of the Kings of Northumbria, is  situated right on the coast, and a formidable sight. Archeologists have found evidence of settlements here dating back to prehistoric times. These days it is open to the public, and offers guided tours around the castle and grounds.

I visit Northumberland whenever I can. One of the big draws for me are the beaches. The Northumberland coastline is a designated area of outstanding beauty. Also, the whole of the Northumberland National Park has Dark Skies status. This means the night sky is protected and lighting controls are in place to prevent light pollution. This combination, coupled with the fact that you can walk for miles and hardly ever see another person, makes it an ideal place to get away from the mundane things in life that preoccupy most of us.

But then, there is the weather. I go camping, and have seen (and been in) tents that have been uprooted and blown away by that forceful wind that crashes in from the North Sea. It’s a good idea to check the weather forecast if you are planning outdoor activities! Having said that, I have also got sunburned, and sat outside until sunrise watching shooting stars, so it all depends on the undependable British weather.

Even stormy conditions can be dramatic and invigorating, as the picture below, taken on Goswick Sands shows.

Another fascinating place is the island of Lindisfarne (Holy Island) Cut off by the tide twice a day, it is a popular tourist destination, and a lot busier than many of the surrounding areas.

If you feel like an adventure, you can leave your car behind and walk over the seabed along the Pilgrims Way (when the tide is out, of course!)  Guided by the vertical poles, you will be following in the steps of the early pilgrims on their way to the priory, founded by St. Aiden around 634.

The walk is about 2 miles long, and the only walk in the UK that I know of where it is recommended to barefoot. I tried it in wellies once, but soon gave up. I just got used to the squelchy mud, sand and squidgy terrain in between my toes!

If you are on Lindisfarne at dusk, you may hear something resembling a go-cart track, which seems out of place in such a remote spot. Don’t be concerned though, it will be the seals ‘singing’ (honestly!)

Apart from the history, (the Lindisfarne Gospels were produced here round 700) I would also highly recommend that you treat yourself to a bottle or two of Lindisfarne Mead. It’s the perfect thing to end the day with after all that activity and culture.

Despite all it has to offer, Northumberland remains fairly quiet when you compare it to other coastal destinations in the UK. That is among its greatest charms for me. I’m hoping that this year the weather will be fine enough for me to get up there and enjoy all that space and beauty once again.

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