I love a good trip away and last weekend my parents and I spent a few days on the Northumbrian coast. I’ve never been up to that neck of the woods before and I was completely blown away. It was fantastic. It’s true to say that we were blessed with the weather, when we decided to go months ago, I never expected to leave with a suntan.
We stayed in the tiny harbour that is Seahouses. It’s small but perfectly formed. If you want fancy places to eat, then Bamburgh about five minutes’ drive up the road is probably more for you, but I loved the realness of Seahouses. We stayed at the Olde Ship Inn, what was nice is that they have some suites in an annex to the side so we could stay together. Most of the rooms overlooked the harbour and you could see the beautiful Farne Islands in the distance, more of those later. The standard of accommodation was really great, each room had pine furniture and plenty of room for clothes and all your stuff. The breakfast was a grand affair, full cooked breakfast, eggs on toast, kippers or a mix of all of them if that’s what you wanted. Can’t say fairer than that.
For our first day, we took to the seas on a Billy Shiels boat, they recently celebrated 100 years of running trips to and from this harbour. We’d timed our visit to perfection and the puffin population on the Farne Islands were out in force, flying around to get sand eels like it was some kind of Battle of Britain re-enactment. They are adorable in a kind of ungainly way, with legs stuck out and not bothered by graceful flight. You can’t help but love them.
If they aren’t your thing, there were a ton of other sea birds. I’m no bird watcher but the sheer volume of all these bad boys can’t fail to take your breath away. We were even lucky enough to happen upon a seal family just lying on the rocks catching some rays, we got up close and personal with them and they didn’t care one bit.
You also get to see the original lighthouse where, in 1838, Northern powerhouse Grace Darling and her father set out one horribly windswept night to save sailors who had become shipwrecked. Grace Darling rose to stardom following this experience but sadly it was short lived as she died four years later of tuberculosis. There is a Grace Darling museum in her home town of Bamburgh across the road from where she is buried below a cenotaph which can be seen from the sea.
Bamburgh is a beautiful little village, totally picture perfect. Bamburgh Castle stands above everything, one side looking over the beach to the sea and the other presiding over a cricket pitch. It’s hard to think of anything that could look more English. There are some really nice places to eat, we had lunch one day at the Copper Kettle and dinner another night at The Lord Crewe. I will say one thing for the Northumbrians, they don’t skimp on portions. This is definitely a place to go with an appetite.
The last spot we visited was the holy island of Lindisfarne just up the road. It’s is lovely but beware of the timings of the tide or you risk being stranded on the island or even worse, if you get your car stranded on the causeway, it’s up to £4k to be rescued. That can really ruin your holiday spending money.
Don’t let that put you off though, it’s well worth a visit. The island has a castle, a priory and a church. We just did the priory and museum which told the story of how Christianity came to our shores around this spot and how St Cuthbert set up home on the island as he set out spreading the word. Many a century later and that wicked old Henry VIII laid waste to the priory but the ruins are still in pretty good nick and it’s worth the entrance fee to have a good old explore around them. It must have been massive and really impressive when it was intact.
There are stalls near the car park where you can buy lovely local produce such as fruit and vegetables and honey, there does seem to be a bit of rivalry between these stalls so choose your allegiance wisely, that’s all I’m saying.
So there you have it, we did just enough to explore the area but I will warn you, the sea air knocks you for six so definitely plan for a cheeky afternoon nap into each day’s itinerary. This is a holiday after all. It’s also worth while just having a drive around the local countryside, it’s so beautiful and for those of us who are landlubbers, it’s such a treat to be by the sea.
If you’ve been to this area or plan to go, let me know in the comments below and I hope you enjoy.