What a magical place! It’s been heralded as the cleanest area of the country with regard to air, light and noise pollution. If you’ve never visited you’ve been missing a treat. For example, you’ve missed the ancient castles – it boasts over 70 sites, more than any other county in England. They range from magnificent ruins like Dunstanburgh and Warkworth to fully restored and lived-in castles like mighty Bamburgh, Chillingham (with its torture chamber) and Alnwick, the 2nd largest inhabited castle in England after Windsor, whilst also doubling for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. The jewels in Northumberland’s crown, these iconic castles stand guard along the coast. The view of Bamburgh Castle at dusk was recently voted one of Britain’s finest sights and once you’ve seen it, we’re sure you’d agree!
You’ve also missed some beautiful gardens, including the fantastic Alnwick Gardens, Howick Gardens and Arboretum, and Gertrude Jekyll’s Garden on Holy Island.
Add in the rolling hills, rugged moorland with their sweeping views, fantastically friendly little market towns and the unique cultural heritage that is the spirit of Northumberland and you will realise you’ve been missing out on a lot!
And all of that is before you find the beaches... There’s more than 30 miles of them dotted along a coastline that stretches from the Scottish borders in the north to Hadrian’s Wall in the south.
This tour is going to follow this stunning coastline, starting at the border with Scotland in the beautiful town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, England’s most northerly town, and hugging the coast as much as possible until our final destination at the Priory in Tynemouth.
Along the way you’ll have the chance to visit the historic Holy Island of Lindisfarne, spectacular castles like Bamburgh, Alnwick and Dunstanburgh, quaint fishing villages such as Craster, the historic towns of Berwick, Alnwick and Tynemouth, and beautiful beaches such as Embleton, Beadnell and Alnmouth. There’s also golf courses, nature reserves and water sports centres along the coast so be prepared for days as busy or as relaxing as you want to make them!
After collecting your camper from us, the fastest route would be to take the A1 north and follow this stretch of tarmac for 95 miles, all the way into Berwick. So, if time is tight, this would take you approximately 2 – 2½ hours depending on traffic. It's not very scenic, though!
We favour a more leisurely, picturesque route following the A68 and A698 which takes in fantastic views of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Kielder Forest, the Northumberland National Park, a quick hop across the border into Scotland (don’t forget the obligatory photo shoot!) then back into England and across to the coast at Berwick-upon-Tweed. Approximately 117 miles and 3 hours of beautiful countryside, hills and forest but so jaw-droppingly beautiful it’s well worth the extra 22 miles driving!
A fantastic market town with must-see sights including the Castle, the town walls, the Barracks, nature centres, historic trails and fantastic beaches. There’s also some notable architectural features like Robert Stephenson’s Royal Border Bridge, and the Union Suspension Bridge, which spans the Tweed and links England and Scotland.
Lies 12 miles south of Berwick. You can use the A1 but we prefer the A1167 through Tweedmouth and Scremerston, then through Beal to the causeway to the island. Remember to check the low tide times if you intend to cross the causeway.
The island is historically significant in the spreading of Christianity across Britain. There’s also a nature reserve, heritage centre museum, the ruins of the old Priory and the obligatory Northumberland castle! More details can be found here.
Please note: There is no overnight camping on the island. Whilst you can take a vehicle onto Lindisfarne, no overnight parking is allowed. There are camper van sites on the mainland side of the causeway at Beal Farm and Brock Mill Farm.
Once you've finished on Holy Island, cross the causeway back onto the mainland (check the tide times!), head back to the A1 and continue south for approximately 3¼ miles past Fenwick and Buckton, then turn left at the sign for Elwick and Easington Grange. Follow the road for 5 miles, to the junction with the B1342 near Warren Mill. Here, head left onto the B1342 towards Budle and onwards into Bamburgh.
A village of 400 of the luckiest people in England! Must see sights include the iconic castle, fabulous beaches including Bamburgh, St. Aiden’s and Ross Back Sands, a museum and memorial to lighthouse keeper’s daughter Grace Darling and even a golf course near the castle, so there’s more than enough to keep you entertained!
After exhausting Bamburgh’s delights, head south on Links Road (B1340) to follow the coast for 3 miles into Seahouses.
There’s just so much to do here! From boat trips to the Farne Islands to see the puffins and seals, beaches, horse riding, a light house and a golf course there’s something for everyone to enjoy. There’s also the health spa, pubs, restaurants and quality fish and chip shops!
With Bamburgh to Seahouses only being a 3 mile walk along the beach, both of these areas can be visited in a day. Walk both ways if you like, or take a 10 minute bus ride in one of the directions! Find more information about Seahouses here.
Leave Seahouses, heading south past the golf club on King Street (B1340) and in just a couple of miles you’ll discover the very pretty village of Beadnell, which is at the head of the gorgeous, almost 2 mile stretch of horseshoe-shaped beach at Beadnell Bay.
Is an absolute must-visit if you love water sports or just beaches in general! Try kite surfing, kayaking, wake boarding, sailing or even jet skiing from here. Or just relax on the gently sloping golden sand and watch the kids build sand castles. You can even visit the only west-facing harbour on the east coast at Beadnell Quay! The sand dunes that ring the bay are great to explore, there’s ice creams to enjoy and (hopefully) plenty of good weather too!
Just when you think Northumberland’s coastline couldn’t get any better, you travel the 5½ miles south from Beadnell along the B1340 and come into High and Low Newton-by-the-Sea! High Newton is a lovely little village with a fantastic gastro-pub, The Joiner’s Arms, that does excellent food, decent ales and wines and also boasts 5* Inn accommodation. A mile further on you come into Low Newton, considered by many to be one of the most attractive villages on this coast.
Walk down the hill into Low Newton - the view of the skeletal ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle at the far end of the long stretch of sand curving around Embleton Bay is nothing short of spectacular! The village is almost completely owned by The National Trust, with white-painted fishermen’s cottages surrounding the open-ended grass square. Sit back and relax here, enjoying some of the fine ales brewed and served by The Ship Inn, a local pub and micro-brewery. Also try the freshly-prepared food - my favourite being the hand-picked crab sandwiches! Then watch the surfers doing their thing as you head towards magnificent Dunstanburgh castle some 2 miles or so to the south. The castle, here since 1313, is managed by English Heritage and is open to visitors.
Head back to the B1339 from Low Newton, turn left and head south towards our next major stop at Amble. Along the way there are a few interesting spots to visit if they take your fancy, including:
Craster, a fishing village famous for its smoked kippers;
Alnmouth, with its golden beach and famous Coquet Island which is inhabited by seals, puffins and numerous migrating birds;
The Alnwick Garden, with plenty to entertain the kids as well as stunning floral displays, a cascading waterfall and café facilities;
Warkworth, a quaint village with the magnificent Warkworth castle.
Following the route of the River Coquet for a mile and three quarters from Warkworth brings you into our next stop at Amble.
A perfect mix of friendly port, modern marina and market town, with plenty of attractions on offer for every visitor.
Head into town for a great selection of shops, pubs, cafés and restaurants. More information about Amble can be found here.
Other places to check out include:
Amble Harbour Village retail pods;
The Old Boathouse restaurant;
The Fish Shack restaurant;
Spurreli boutique ice cream maker;
Coquet Shorebase Trust for water sports;
Follow the A1068 from Amble, heading to our next stop at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea about 15 miles away. There’s some more great beaches as you head south that are also fantastic for spotting birds and other wildlife, including Low Hauxley, which has a wildlife discovery centre, East Chevington, Druridge Bay country park and Cresswell Pond Nature Reserve.
has a bit of something for everyone. There's an idyllic beach ideal for romantic sunset walks, water sports, catching glimpses of the abundant marine life or just relaxing with the kids.
Art lovers can admire sculptor Sean Henry’s creations “Couple” and “Land Couple”.
There’s also a maritime centre with a 3 gallery museum, sea view café and gift shop, whilst the town has an array of gift and curiosity shops to complement the fine selection of pubs, cafés and restaurants.
Head out of Newbiggin on the B1334 and follow this to the A189 heading south towards Tynemouth. The beaches along this stretch take a little more effort to access, as they require some doubling back on yourself. However, if beaches are your thing, you can try out Cambois, Blyth, Whitley Bay and Long Sands along the 18 mile route to Tynemouth Priory and castle.
Our journey ends in Tynemouth at the southern point of this fantastic coast. There's just so much to do here you'll need to allow plenty of time to explore the sights.
Shoppers can find a bargain at the Tynemouth Markets, located in the old train station, or at Green Ginger shopping arcade, which is located on Front Street in a converted church. Lovers of history can marvel at the ruins of Tynemouth Priory and Castle, and the Collingwood Monument, a Grade II* listed monument dedicated to Vice Admiral Lord Cuthbert Collingwood, a Napoleonic-era admiral noted for being second-in-command to Admiral Lord Nelson during the Battle of Trafalgar. Collingwood is often referred to as the forgotten hero of Trafalgar.
Kids of all ages will love the fantastic beaches, especially Long Sands beach and King Edward's Bay, as well as Tynemouth Park, with its boating lake, crazy golf and amusement rides, and Tynemouth Aquarium, with its collection of underwater creatures and seals.
For a bit of grown up time there's plenty of pubs and restaurants, including Alfie and Fin's Gin Bar, located in the Green Ginger shopping arcade, The Salutation Inn with its lovely outside area and, for a special seafood meal, there's Riley's Fish Shack, located right on the beach at King Edward's Bay.
For those who enjoy a round of golf, Tynemouth also boasts an 18 hole, par 70 course at Tynemouth Golf Club.
By the time you've finished exploring Tynemouth you will have experienced the best the Northumberland coast has to offer!
Best for: Beaches, Castles and Seafood
Duration: 3 - 7 Days (do as much or as little as you like!)
Need to know: This area is so stunning that it's worth taking the time to rest and relax on the beaches, take in the sights of the castles and gardens, explore the towns and pretty fishing villages and enjoy the fantastic seafood on offer.
Where to stay:
Berwick upon Tweed: Paxton House Caravan Park
Beadnell: Annstead Farm
Low Newton: Brunton Airfield
Alnwick: Peppermoor Pitches
Amble: Walkmill Campsite
Tynemouth: High Hermitage Caravan Park