Northumberland Coast Highlights, 11th-14th June 2016
Geoff & Kath Roberts
For many years we have wanted to visit Northumberland for a holiday and for the past few years we thought we might try a walking holiday but just hadn’t got round to sorting one out (work just gets in the way sometimes!). This year we got our act together and booked a short walking holiday with Shepherd’s Walks. For two oldies who like to get out when we can we decided to book the highlights walk as we thought we could manage 3 days on the trot of gentle walking south to north on the Northumberland Coastal Path.
We arrived in Alnmouth in late afternoon on the 11th June after a pleasant drive from Cheshire and checked into the Hope and Anchor, we were allocated a lovely refurbished room and after an excellent meal we took a short walk round the village to get us in the mood for the next 3 days.
The next day, Sunday 12th we were met by Jon and his wife who drove us to Druridge Bay Country Park for the start of the walk. Jon explained our route on the map, and went through the itinerary and other details with us. As it was pouring down with rain we donned our overtrousers and wet weather gear and got going at about 10am to tackle the section from Druridge Bay to Almouth (11 miles). The route took us along easy paths towards Amble. Unfortunately the rain and sea fret meant we didn’t see a great deal of Druridge Bay but this didn’t matter we were just enjoying the peace and quiet of the countryside! From Amble the route follows the River Coquet estuary to Warkworth this was wonderful for two birdwatchers with lots of herons, eider ducks, mute swans, and cormorants on this section. In the pretty little town of Warkworth we looked around the Castle and St Lawrence Church and as it was still raining we had a much needed cup of tea at Bertrams café. After that we thought we’d better get going on the last stretch to Alnmouth. The path went partly inland nearer to Alnmouth where we were staying at the Hope and Anchor for a second night
After a good breakfast we set off on the 2nd day of our walk, Monday 13th June from Alnmouth to Embleton (11 miles). Following the coast we passed through Boulmer, and strolled through pleasant coastal paths with plenty of birdsong, wildflowers and the sound of the waves on the beach to our right. Cullernose Point (where the Whin Sill meets the North Sea) quickly came into view. The geology makes for an entirely different and dramatic landscape on this section of the walk. Many seabirds including fulmars and kittiwakes were nesting on the cliffs here. We strolled through lovely wildflower meadows across to Craster (cup of tea!) and from Craster walked through dunes towards Dunstanburgh Castle. The dramatic views looming out of the sea fret made up for the rainy and murky weather. The path skirted to the left of the castle and we followed the official path through the golf links for a short while. As the tide was out and the sun was out we decided to head seawards through the dunes to the beach to meet the lane which went inland towards Embleton, to reach Jubilee House B & B.
The 3rd day of our walk, Tuesday 14th June, Embleton to Bamburgh (12 miles) began with a hearty breakfast after which we stocked up with lunch from the local shop and rejoined the trail through dunes and golf links, to Low Newton. The weather had begun to brighten up! The path meandered through dunes to Beadnell, including lots of birdlife at a small nature reserve where Brunton Burn flows to the sea through the dunes. The sun was shining by now so hats and sunscreen on! The path then went inland for a while eventually bearing right through a golf course (there are a lot of golf courses on the Northumberland coast!) to meet the cliff top just south of Seahouses. The sea fret had started to come in again! We rested for a while in Seahouses (ice-cream!) and then made tracks towards Bamburgh. The official route tracks inland through farmland to Bamburgh, but as the tide was out we found a path down through the dunes onto the beach. The sea fret was in, with bright blue skies above. As the sea fret began to lift and the sun came out we rested on the beach taking in the amazing view of the Farne Islands and then set off on the last stretch to Bamburgh. As we were walking along the beach we found one of the many paths through the dunes across to the side of the castle car park, and down into the village and the end of the trail and took photos to prove it! We had booked an extra night’s accommodation so we walked up from here to our accommodation in the Victoria Hotel.
Once the aching and exhaustion had worn off after a hot bath and lovely meal we felt we had achieved something – we are keen walkers but are getting older (60 and 58) and had never done this type of walking holiday before. The hotels/B & B’s were comfortable, the luggage transfer worked well, all information regarding the route including places to get food and drink were detailed and excellent, and the map supplied was very easy to follow. Hopefully we will be doing another holiday with Shepherd’s Walks in due course (roll on retirement, we need more free time!).
Kath and Geoff Roberts