Please don’t tell everyone. The coast of Northumberland is stunning.
Beautiful, deserted sandy beaches, littered with ancient castles.
There are umpteen walks and beaches, but we’ll just list our favourites from north to south:
Holy Island (Lindisfarne)
Accessible only at low tide along a long causeway (tide times are printed weekly in the Northumberland Gazette newspaper). Worth a visit for the weighty atmosphere of its Christian history, but a popular stop on the tourist trail.
Not really a beach, more of a vast mud flat. Was actually a port 800 years ago but has long since silted up. Budle Bay is not unattractive but not breathtakingly beautiful either. This is a walk for the keen birdwatcher as the bay is home to many rare resident and visiting waders.
The iconic image of Northumberland and a very impressive sight too. No wonder we chose a picture of Bamburgh Castle for the homepage of our website. A must see. The beach is fairly exposed and runs all the way down to Seahouses – great for blowing the cobwebs away on a winter’s day.
Seahouses is the place where you catch the boat out to the Farne Islands and it gets very busy during peak season. You do get a great view of the Farne Islands from the beach, but best to go to Bamburgh to get away from the masses. All of the boat trips from Seahouses are very informative and you are guaranteed to get up close to a large grey seal colony, as well as thousands of puffins, guillemots, razorbills and gannets which live in this important sea bird sanctuary. You may see a dolphin or two if you’re lucky.
It’s worth popping into the RNLI lifeboat station (Tim is on the crew) to see the lifeboats and there is an RNLI museum just up the road in Bamburgh where you can learn about one of Northumberland’s best-loved heroines, Grace Darling (free entry).
You don’t have to be big on walking to get to Low Newton. There is a large car park close by, with a 5 minute walk down to the village square right next to the beach. The Ship Inn is in a corner of the square and is a must for lunch out one day. Cosy in the winter, benches outside in the summer, a beautiful view of Newton Pool (the tiny bay), the freshest crab sandwiches and tangiest kipper pate, washed down with a pint of cider or a choice of real ale – perfect!
There is a small lake behind the dunes with a hide to see the wading birds that visit the area (an easy, level, 10 minute stroll from the pub) and the beach is great for children, but can be windy.
If you prefer a walk to build your appetite before lunch, we always park on the road alongside Embleton Golf Club (go to the centre of Embleton and head for the coast) walk across the links to the beach there, turn left and walk up the beach towards Low Newton. Has the added advantage of the stunning Dunstanburgh Castle as a backdrop and takes about an hour.
Craster is a quaint fishing village where you can buy some of the famous ‘Craster kippers’ or a range of fresh fish from the fish shop. First of all you may like to walk along the coast to Dunstanburgh Castle which is rather dramatic.
Sugar Sands (Our favourite, just 19 miles from Burnfoot)
Not many people in the north east know about the three adjoining sheltered coves at Sugar Sands, and visitors never find it because it is not signposted or promoted anywhere. If it is a hot sunny day and you just want to sit on a sheltered beach to play with the children or read a book, far from the madding crowd – this is the place to go. No-one knows about it and yet it is the closest beach to Burnfoot.
Simply drive through Alnwick, past the Alnwick Garden, to Denwick. Turn right there towards Boulmer. As you reach Longhoughton you pass St Peter’s and Paul’s Church on the left. Take your first right down a narrow lane called Crowlea Road. Keep going until you reach a closed gate at a farm. Drop a pound in the honesty box and go through the gate. When you reach the top of the dunes at the end of the lane, turn left and drive over the top of the dunes for a minute or two until you reach the next cove. You have reached Sugar Sands. The path down is steep – but that’s why it’s so sheltered.
There are plenty of other beautiful beaches further south and if you are a beach fanatic we hope you explore them, but the above are our favourites.