|Bamburgh is a picturesque village and located within the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. An unspoilt beautiful village sits below the imposing Bamburgh Castle which overlooks the village to the West and the dramatic Bamburgh beaches to the East. The Northumbrian coastline is home to the most exhilarating beaches in England. Stretching from just below Berwick in the north to Druridge Bay in the south, this series of wild and empty white-sand crescents is designated a Heritage Coast as well as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.||
Situated in the village, Bamburgh Castle, seat of the former Kings of Northumbria, dominates the landscape and at present owned by the Armstrong family. Often thought of as the most impressive coastal castle, striking in both size and location, sitting 45 metres above sea level on a natural plateau of volcanic dolerite. Bamburgh Castle has a remarkable history, there have been settlements on the site since prehistoric times. During its more recent history, Bamburgh Castle feted royal guests and English Kings. Home to the Kings of Northumbria this magnificent coastal castle was completely restored in 1900.
Bamburgh village sits on a coastline of outstanding beaches which are as long as they are wide. The Bamburgh Dunes, an area of sand dunes which are a Site of Special Scientific Interest, stand behind the award winning beach. This is a place for walkers, bird lovers and kite fliers. Throw in spectacular coastal castles and beautiful gardens and you have the classic ingredients of an old-fashioned seaside holiday.
Bamburgh is equally known for the Victorian heroine, Grace Darling. The story of Grace Darling has become famous throughout the world. It all started in a small Cottage in the Village of Bamburgh, where Grace was born on the 24th November 1814, the daughter of a lighthouse keeper. In 1826, as a young girl Grace and her family moved to the newly built Longstone Lighthouse on the nearby Farne Islands, about 3 miles off the Northumberland Coast. The family lived a self sufficient life on the Farne Islands tending to both crops and cattle on the nearby island of Brownsman.
It was for her actions during an exceptionally stormy night in 1838 that Grace would become famous throughout the world. At approximately 4am the Steamship ‘Forfarshire’, on route from Hull to Dundee, ran aground on the rocks of Big Harcar. The ship broke in two and was blown off into the sea southwards in storm force winds. Soon afterwards Grace spotted the forlorn ship from her bedroom window, but it wasn’t for a few hours before she and her father saw survivors clinging for their lives to the rocks. Grace and her Father decided to set off in their family Cobble boat, fearing that life boats from Bamburgh would not be able to launch in such appalling conditions. Their immense bravery rescued the lives of nine, including Mrs Dawson who was desperately clinging on to the bodies of her dead children. There is now an effigy of Grace in St Aidan’s Church, where she was buried, along with a monument to her everlasting bravery. Grace’s story is ‘amazing’ and can be explored in full at the RNLI Grace Darling Museum, located in Bamburgh.
St Aidan’s Church
There has been a church on this site since 635AD when St Aidan was invited to the Castle by King Oswald to establish Christianity in the newly United Kingdom of Northumbria. The original church was wooden and there are now no traces of this structure left apart from a single beam left in the Baptistery. Legend has it that St Aidan was leaning on this beam when he died and it has escaped two fires since. Aidan was the Apostle of Northumbria and also the Apostle of England, making this church the ‘mother church’ of the Diocese of Newcastle and the centre of Christianity in England. The church now attracts tourist attention because of this and also because of the effigy of Grace Darling inside the church and her grave and memorial outside. The Church welcomes visitors every day from 9am until dusk.
For the best beaches
For sandcastles: the beach below Bamburgh Castle, backed by rolling dunes with views of Holy Island as well as the spectacular castle. Kite surfing is particular popular on this beach as well – an impressive sport to partake and to watch. The beaches in Bamburgh stretch all the way to the village of Beal and then in the opposite direction you can walk from Bamburgh to Seahouses along the beach. They are beautiful beaches, soft white sand, as wide as they are long. If you like dune jumping walk from the Castle to below Bamburgh Golf Club and you will find some fantastic hidden dunes.
For watersports: Beadnell Beach, popular with divers (good wreck diving), windsurfers and water-skiers.
For solitude: Cheswick Beach, between Holy Island and Berwick: rare marsh orchids and helleborines grow in the dunes in summer; for bird watches, the pale-bellied brent goose winters almost exclusively here.
Newton by the Sea boasts The Ship Inn (www.theshipinnnewton.co.uk) a wonderful pub offering fantastic food and a great beach to walk off lunch!
Walking and Cycling
The Northumberland Coast is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and as such offers some of the best coastal walking in the country. The Northumberland Coast Path runs from Beadnell in the South, through Seahouses and on towards the magnificent Bamburgh Castle in the North. Bamburgh makes an excellent base for walkers. There are three lovely walks to choose from in Bamburgh. The first heads up The Wynding toward the coast from the Village and heading North along the bridleway to the beautiful Budle Bay, popular with bird watchers. The second is a walk from Bamburgh to Seahouses, which is approximately three miles each way. There is plenty to do in Seahouses and many opportunities for refreshments and a bite to eat before heading back, there is also public transport between the two Villages if walking one way was enough! Lastly there is a short circular walk that takes in the Castle, beach and golf course. From the Village head along the far side of the Cricket Green next to the Castle and towards the beach; from here you can walk North along the beach until you reach stags rock (an animal painted on the rocks), from here cut through the sand dunes and onto The Wynding. This road leads you all the way back into the Village.
Christopher Sommerville, a travel writer for over 25 years, has some wonderful walks around Bamburgh/Holy Island and Seahouses, for more information www.christophersomerville.co.uk. Walking Britian www.walkingbritain.co.uk is another good site and www.walkinginnorthumberland.co.uk. There are also lovely walks from Lindisfarne to Bamburgh known as St Oswalds Way www.stoswaldsway.com.
There are also many fine opportunities for cycling from a base in Bamburgh. A popular route is the 21 mile circular route that takes in the Villages of West Fleetham, Bruntam and Embleton before heading off road along the coastline through Low Newton and Beadnell, then back North through Seahouses and back to Bamburgh. Cycles can be hired and delivered to where ever you are staying by the local company Boards and Bikes.
07563 040195; www.boardsandbikes.co.uk
Bamburgh has it’s own 18-hole Golf Course just at the North end of the Village. The course offers stunning views across the beaches, countryside and of course of Bamburgh Castle and the Village itself and is often quoted as the most scenic course in Britain. The course is not as long as other courses nearby, at 5,600 yards and has a demanding par of 68. The course has a clubhouse that welcomes visitors at all times of the year and also serves food (01668 214378; www.bamburghcastlegolfclub.co.uk). Other Golf Courses nearby include Seahouses Golf Club, Dunstanburgh Golf Club and heading further south there are two course at Alnmouth. For full information about the County’s Golf Courses visit their Golf page.
Seahouses also has an 18-hole Golf Course. Seahouses Golf Course is one of the traditional Northumberland Golf Courses, with a standard scratch of 68 which is seldom bettered. This Northumberland golf course boasts two of the most prestigious par threes in the north of England. Founded in 1913 as a 9 hole course upgraded in 1976 to 18 holes, the course has hosted many Northumberland Golf County competition events over the years. The challenging 10th hole offers golfers the internationally famous Logans Loch to play over and this coupled with the notorious 15th over “The Cove” will leave you with many memories for years to come. Golfing on this links offers spectacular views of the coastline from Bamburgh to Beadnell and out to The Farne Islands of Longstone Lighthouse and Grace Darling fame.
01665 720794; www.seahousesgolf.co.uk
The beach at Bamburgh is popular place for watersports. Not only does it offer the wonderful views of Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands, but it is also provides some good waves for surfing through most stages of the tide. Other places nearby that are known to be excellent surf spots include Seahouses beach just to the North of the Harbour and Beadnell Bay, just a few miles to the South. Northside Surf School offer beach surf lessons on several beaches along the Northumberland Coast including Bamburgh. Courses start at 2 hours and go up to 5 day course. They operate 7 days a week and 12 months of the year and cater for all needs. My children tried out a morning with Jon at Northside Surf School and had fantastic two hours paddle boarding on Seahouses beach. He also offers paddle boarding sessions on the River at Warkworth which we were all keen to do but no time…next time!
01668 713146; www.northside-surf-school.co.uk
If you need any equipment to have a go at any watersports then the company to get in touch with is Boards and Bikes. They supply and hire wetsuits, boards and bikes to the Beadnell, Seahouses and Bamburgh area. They will even deliver them to wherever you are staying, be that a B&B, Hotel or caravan. We hired 7 surf boards and they even delivered them directly to the beach. The children had a 2 hour lesson and it was fantastic, they loved it. They don’t just hire equipment, they also run excellent value lessons on the beaches of Bamburgh, Seahouses and Beadnell. They start from 2 hours and include a full safety brief before allowing you in the water as safely as possible with their skilled and friendly teachers. Call Chris on 07563 040195; www.boardsandbikes.co.uk
Kite Surfing is a very popular sport in Bamburgh and on the nearby beaches. KA Kitesurfing will provide you with everything you need to get started. As well as being a kitesurfing and stand up paddle surf school KA Kitesurfing adventure sports are now offering coasteering sessions along the fantastic Northumberland coastline. Working on the beautiful Northumberland coastline, they use beaches from Budle bay in the North to Bamburgh and Beadnell bay, they even travel to the West coast if the conditions require. Contact to KA Kitesurfing adventure sports and experience these explosive sports with Kevin Anderson and his team. They are both BKSA and BSUPA recognised schools and have trained with the British Coasteering Federation to be coasteering guides.
07766 303876; www.kitesurfinglessons.co.uk
Tennis, Cricket and Croquet
Bamburgh also has a number of Tennis Courts, located at the back of the cricket green, below the Castle. Hire of a court is just £5 per hour with an additional key deposit of £5. The courts are available to book from the reception of the Victoria Hotel, where you also collect and return your key. The Cricket Green in the shadows of the Castle walls has been used since the 1800’s. Matches are usually played on a Sunday afternoon, which just adds to the character of this wonderful little village. If you are interested in playing while you visit Bamburgh you can email the club and they will try and accommodate you, for contact details visit their website. The Cricket Green is also home to Bamburgh’s Croquet Club, what better location to enjoy this traditional game?
01665 720618; www.bamburghcricket.co.uk
There are so many sites to see and beautiful places to visit in and around Bamburgh. To name a few; go castle hopping: Bamburgh (01668 214 515; www.bamburghcastle.com), Warkworth (01665 711 423; www.english-heritage.org.uk), Dunstanburgh (01665 576 231; www.nationaltrust.org.uk), Alnwick (01665 510 777; www.alnwickcastle.com for garden as well as castle). Visit Lindisfarne Priory (01289 389 200; www.english-heritage.org.uk), an important centre of early Christianity, and Holy Island (see www.lindisfarne.org.uk for information including safe crossing times). Take a birdwatching boat tour of the Farne Islands from Seahouses with Billy Shiel (01665 720 308; www.farne-islands.com). Enjoy some of Britain’s finest gardens at Alnwick Castle (01665 510777; www.alnwickcastle.com) and Howick Hall (01665 577 285; www.howickhallgardens.org). If it’s raining try the indoor craft centre at Pot-a-Doodle Do (01289 307 107; www.potadoodledo.com) near Berwick, where adults and children can make pots and mosaics.
Along with the historic castles on the Northumbrian coast there are also many beautiful gardens to visit. Alnwick Gardens and Howick Hall and National Trust properties Cragside, Seaton Delaval Hall, Wallington and Gibside. There is also the inspirational walled garden at Lindisfarne designed by Gertrude Jeykll. For more information please see the National Trust website to view all the local houses and gardens www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Please also visit www.visitnorthumberland.com, this is a fantastic website with all the information with current up to date information on what’s going on in Northumberland. If you are particularly foodie, please also visit www.neefm.org.uk which lists all the North East Farmers Markets and current event information.
Where to Eat
There are lots of great places to eat near and around Bamburgh. To name a few:-
The Mizen Head, Bamburgh Tel. 01668 214254 – excellent and delicious seafood. Great and welcoming with children too. www.mizenheadhotel.co.uk
The Lord Crewe Hotel & Restaurant, Bamburgh Tel. 01668 214243 – recently renovated Tea Room and Restaurant. Relaxed Brasserie in the Pub side too – great for children and excellent children’s menu. www.lord-crewe.co.uk
Elan Pizzeria, Seahouses, Tel. 01665 721311 – delicious pizzas. Both eat in and takeaway. Highly recommended. www.elanpizzeria.co.uk
The Shin Inn, Low Newton Tel. 01665 576262 – very popular pub right on the beach. Good food and has a small brewery next to the pub. Worth a visit after a long walk on the beach.
The Joiners Arms, Low Newton Tel. 01665 576112 – good gastro pub. Very pretty setting.
The Jolly Fisherman, Craster Tel. 01665 576461 – delicious food and on a sunny day, great to have lunch in the garden or balcony looking out to sea.
Craster Fish Restaurant, Craster Tel. 01665 57623 – part of Robson’s Smokehouse. Great views over the harbour. Service can be slow.
The Treehouse, Alnwick Tel. 01665 511852 – Fantastic treehouse and great food to go with it. A definite visit with children and great at night for adults too. Huge fire burning in the middle of the Treehouse, great in the winter too.
There is so much to do, come and visit and see for yourselves.