Alnmouth and the surrounding area
Alnmouth is one of the most beautiful of Northumberland's coastal villages situated right on the River Aln estuary. It has magnificent beaches and the village has many interesting shops, restaurants and pubs.
Amble, one time home of Freddie the Dolphin, is an old coal port, though today it is the fishing boats that dock there and there is also a busy marina. You can take a short cruise around Coquet Island in the summer months. During the Anglo-Saxon period, Coquet Island was used as a retreat by the monks, and in the Middle Ages, a small cell was set up by the monks from Tynemouth Priory. Today it is a nature reserve, offering sanctuary to large numbers of seabirds, and has an unmanned Lighthouse.
Warkworth offers a wonderful Castle and a Hermitage, as well as interesting shops and tearooms. In 1332 The Percys gained Warkworth, and it became their favourite residence. In Henry 1V – Part 1, Shakespeare set some of his scenes at Warkworth, when the Earl of Northumberland and his son, Harry Hotspur, plotted their rebellion against the King. Every 4 years the villagers of Warkworth put on a pageant, set in the grounds of the Castle, which is great fun for audience and participants alike.
Just inland from Alnmouth is the small market town of Alnwick. The Duke of Northumberland and his family live in the Castle, and the Duchess has built the now famous Alnwick Garden, home of the world's largest treehouse. The Castle is open from Easter to the end of September and Alnwick Garden is open all year round, except Christmas Day. The Castle is surrounded by 1250 hectares of landscaped meadows, woods and parklands, designed in the 18th century by Capability Brown, a Northumbrian by birth.
The International Musical Festival, in August, sees musicians from all over the world perform in the Market Square. The town becomes very colourful, with the entertainers walking around in their national costumes.
Alnwick also boasts a fine Theatre, the Playhouse, with wonderful performances by the local amateur societies and many professional touring companies.
Howick Hall is set in beautiful grounds, with its own church on an island. There are pretty walks through the Rhododendrons and Azaleas, and in the Spring the place is covered with Daffodils. Well worth a visit, but dogs are not allowed.
Craster is a small fishing harbour, famous for its Kippers and a good stopping off point to walk to Dunstanburgh Castle. The Castle's remote location saved it from the ravages of the Border Wars. It also played an important part during the War of the Roses, as the stronghold of the Lancastrian supporter Ralph Percy. It finally fell to the Yorkists after two sieges.
As you drive north up the coast, you come to a wide variety of villages. Seahouses offers Swallow Kippers and trips to the Farne Islands, where you can land and watch the seals and a wide variety of birds and visit the Lighthouse where Grace Darling lived.
A little further up the coast is Bamburgh, with its glorious beach and imposing Castle. There also is a museum celebrating Grace Darling, and her tomb, which is set high so that the sailors can see it as they pass by.
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is reached by crossing the causeway at low tide. Do please pay attention to the safe crossing times.
Lindisfarne, home of the famous Gospels was the first centre of Christianity in England. In 1083, it was devastated by Viking attacks. Benedictine monks from Durham returned to build a new Priory on Lindisfarne, which they re-named Holy Island; much still remains of the Priory, which was closed with the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry V111.
The Castle on Lindisfarne was built as an artillery fort in the 1530s. In 1880, Edward Hudson bought the castle and Sir Edwin Lutyens restored it as a private residence. In 1944, the Castle was given to the National Trust.
A little further North is Berwick upon Tweed where you can walk around the fortified walls that enclose the town, the only such surviving fortification in Britain. There are many places of interest to visit and it does have a Scottish atmosphere.