The Northumberland Coast is one of the most breath-taking places you can visit in the UK. The beaches are pristine stretches of sand which span as far as the eye can see and the sea ranges from an atmospheric stormy grey to the most azure of blues. What sets Northumberland apart from other coastal areas, however, is the abundance of stunning castles which are scattered along the coast.
The Northumberland Coast Path
The Northumberland Coast Path stretches for 62 miles from Cresswell in the south to Berwick-upon-Tweed in the North. It can be tackled as an all in one trail in 3-7 days, depending on how fit you are, and on how long you want to linger at the attractions and villages along the way.
Last August we visited Northumberland on the bank holiday weekend and on the first day of our trip we tackled the stage one of the coast path from Cresswell to Warkworth. A route is available on Your Northumberland, however, this wasn’t necessary even for our terrible navigation skills! The route is very easy as you follow the beach from Cresswell all the way to Amble, and from there the coast path is clearly sign posted until you arrive in Warkworth.
The walk itself isn’t too taxing physically (my top tip would be to walk where the sand is wet and therefore you sink less as you walk – might be fairly obvious but it took Sam the first 6 miles or so to work this out!). Mentally however it was a bit more of a trek than I had anticipated! Not long after you set off Croquet Island (pictured off shore on the right) will come into view, where it will stay in the middle distance for about 3 hours, not appearing to get any nearer! By the time we were level with the island I was ready for bed, but we still had a fair few miles to go before we reached our campsite for the night!
If you are planning to walk the Coast Path and camp along the way, the only campsite near the end of stage one is Walkmill Campsite, which is about half an hour’s walk from Warkworth. The campsite is dog friendly and has clean facilities. The pitches are nicely spaced out so it didn’t feel too crowded even though it was full when we visited – our pitch was right at the end of the site near the river. Although it was a bit of a walk to the tap it was lovely and peaceful which we definitely needed to recover from our mammoth walk!
My favourite stretch of coast which we walked along was Druridge Bay (which I’ve already talked about in my post A Weekend in Northumberland). Druridge Bay is 7 miles of pure bliss, with enough space to feel like you have the beach to yourself even when there are plenty of other people around. This is a bit of a theme along the Northumberland Coast – I don’t understand why more people haven’t discovered it yet!
Dog Friendly rating – 5/5. What could be more perfect for a dog than walking along 60+ miles of dog friendly beach?! The walking is nearly all off lead, the sea is always on hand for swimming to cool down and you can generally find a poo bin in car parks along the way. Just remember to take some water and a bowl for your dog to drink from.
Embleton Bay and Dunstanburgh Castle
Dunstanburgh Castle is my absolute favourite castle. ANYWHERE, EVER. And that is coming from someone who went to school at the bottom of Castle Hill in Dover! It might be little more than a crumbling ruin these days, but it’s iconic position overlooking Embleton Bay gives me shivers down my spine every time I see it. Built during the reign of Edward II in the fourteenth century, Dunstanburgh is now managed by English Heritage and you can visit the castle for free as an English Heritage or National Trust member. Dogs aren’t allowed inside the boundary walls so you might need to take turns having a look at the inside of the ruins.
You can walk to Dunstanburgh from the village of Craster. Parking in the village itself is limited but there is a large car park (pay and display) at the entrance to the village. My favourite walk is from Craster to Low Newton, a 6 mile walk which takes in the castle before continuing on to reach glorious Embleton bay. There are views for miles for the whole walk, with particularly wonderful views back to the castle from the far end of the bay. Start or finish your walk with a meal at the dog friendly Jolly Fisherman, which is generally very busy because the food is amazing! If you are planning to visit I would recommend calling ahead to book a table, especially if you are taking your dog, as dogs are not allowed in the restaurant but are allowed in the bar area.
Dog Friendly rating – 5/5. Miles of practically empty beach for zoomies, dog friendly pub, need I say more?
For the second day of our trip we decided to hop in the car and head over to Lindisfarne. This was a bit of a shock to the system after the deserted beaches of the mainland the previous day – Lindisfarne was absolutely heaving with tourists and walking to the village was somewhat akin to walking along the escalators on the London Underground. We did visit on a bank holiday weekend though and I am reliably informed that outside of peak season it is much quieter! The main car parking area is a pay and display car park which is about a five minute walk from the centre of the village.
We had planned to visit Lindisfarne Castle, but after seeing the queue from a mile away, decided to instead visit Lindisfarne Priory (pictured). The Priory is absolutely fascinating and was for hundreds of years the home of the monks who were so famously the victims of the Viking raiders during the Anglo-Saxon period. The Priory was busy until you reached the paid entry area, which provided an oasis of calm on the manically busy island! The Priory is dog friendly and provides great views over the island. For more great views head up to the Lookout Tower, where on a clear day you can see over to Bamburgh castle on the mainland.
Dog friendly rating – 2.5/5. There aren’t too many opportunities for off lead walks (although there may be some on this circular walk that we didn’t have time to try.) Lots of the cafes are dog friendly, but the island was so busy it would have been a bit of a nightmare with a dog that didn’t like people/other dogs.
So there you have it! I’ve ended up expanding quite a bit on what I originally planned to write – but I really love this part of Northumberland and wanted to inspire others to visit. If you’ve enjoyed this blog make sure you subscribe below: