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(This post about driving the Northumberland Coastal Route was updated in May 2019)

 

Beautiful Northumberland is England’s northernmost county. It is not only one of the most lovely of counties to visit during the day but also at night! Northumberland has the largest protected area of night skies in Europe. This means that it offers visitors some of the best stargazing experiences and clearest night skies in England.

 

If you are planning a drive up the Northumberland coastal route, there are some beautiful coastal towns to visit along the route including Bamburgh, Seahouses, Craster and Alnwick. Due to the rather turbulent history with our neighbour to the north there are over 700 castle sites more than any other county) and as some of them are on the coast you will see them on your drive up the Northumberland coastal route.

 

Although we drove the route in a day I would highly recommend staying in some of the villages and towns along the way if you have time.

 

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Northumberland Coastal Route featured by top international travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time: UK TRAVEL PLANNING GROUP

 

 

THE SCENIC DRIVE ALONG THE NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL ROUTE

 

 

The 39 mile Northumberland coastal route was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1958.

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We started out in the village of Seaton Delaval and drove north. Our schedule was to visit Alnwick and then follow the 35 mile coastal drive route from Alnmouth to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

 

The drive is beautiful and if the weather is good I can guarantee you will have a lovely day out.

 

We joined the coastal route which is well signposted at Alnmouth (5 miles east of Alnwick). You then pass through Boulmer, Craster, Embleton and Beadnall – all lovely little villages –  before arriving in Seahouses.

 

CRASTER – DUNSTANBURGH CASTLE

Just to the north of the village of Craster lies the first of the castles you will see on your trip. Dunstanburgh castle, home to John of Gaunt it is now administered by English Heritage. You can read more about visiting Dunstanburgh Castle in my post about the top 6 castles to visit in Northumberland.

 

Craster is also famous for kippers which are prepared in the village in oak smoked barrels. If you enjoy art why not pop into the Mick Oxley Gallery which sells seaside inspired arts and crafts.

 

FIND OUT MORE | DUNSTANBURGH CASTLE | CRASTER KIPPERS | THE MICK OXLEY GALLERY

 

Northumberland Coastal Route featured by top international travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time: image of Dunstanburgh Castle near Craster Northumberland

 

BEADNELL

After driving through Embleton you then arrive at the small village of Beadnell. From Beadnell to Bamburgh lies one of the most beautiful stretches of beaches in England. Pick a sheltered spot on in Beadnall Bay and enjoy a few hours on the golden sand. The area is also famous for water sports including surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, diving and snorkelling.

 

The Northumberland Coast Path runs from Beadnall through Seahouses and on to Bamburgh Castle.

 

FIND OUT MORE | BEADNALL  | NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PATH

 

Northumberland Coastal Route featured by top international travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time: image of Beadnall Beach

 

 

 

SEAHOUSES ALONG THE NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL ROUTE

Seahouses is a town where I spend many happy summer days out as a child with my Dad and brother. There are arcades and amusements and gift shops and fish and chip shops and a great little harbour to look around. It can be very busy in summer so be prepared – parking can be an issue.

 

There are lovely beaches to the north and south of the town and a great view towards Bamburgh Castle. If you enjoy horse riding and are an experienced rider there are beach rides available. 

 

Northumberland Coastal Route featured by top international travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time: image of SEAHOUSES HARBOUR

 

HOW TO VISIT THE FARNE ISLANDS

You can also catch a boat to the Farne Islands from Seahouses. Although we we had hoped to do this the weather was a bit too treacherous on the day we visited. The Farne Islands called the “Galapagos of  Europe” are home to seal and puffin colonies and definitely worth adding to your itinerary if the weather allows.  There are a 28 islands making up the Farnes of which only 3 are accessible – Inner Farne, Staple (May-July only), and Longstone.

 

To get to the Farne Islands there are a number of boat trips that leave from Seahouses harbour. The islands belong to the National Trust so if you are not a member expect to pay a landing fee as well as the costs for the boat trip.

 

FIND OUT MORE | SEAHOUSES  | FARNE ISLANDS  | SLATE HALL RIDING CENTRE

 

Northumberland Coastal Route featured by top international travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time: image of PUFFINS ON THE FARNE ISLANDS

 

BAMBURGH CASTLE

After Seahouses continue up the coast to Bamburgh. You will see the famous Bamburgh Castle long before you arrive in Bamburgh itself. It is a magnificent structure and is still inhabited. Home to the Royal Seat of the Kings of Northumbria Bamburgh Castle is a castle on which myths and legends are based. It is also rumoured to have a ghost or two inhabiting its corridors.

 

We struggled to find parking in Bamburgh itself but if you are luckier than us and do manage to get parked in the village there is the Grace Darling Museum to visit as well as lots of lovely tea rooms and restaurants.

 

FIND OUT MORE | BAMBURGH CASTLE | GRACE DARLING MUSEUM | PLANNING A WEEKEND IN BAMBURGH

 

Northumberland Coastal Route featured by top international travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time: image of BAMBURGH CASTLE IN NORTHUMBERLAND

 


LINDISFARNE/HOLY ISLAND


Your next stop will be the beautiful island of Lindisfarne (Holy Island). Here you have a castle and an abbey to visit. The castle was built in the 1500’s during the reign of Henry VIII but for me the highlight of a visit to Holy Island is the ruined abbey. It was at this abbey that monks wrote the Lindisfarne gospels a copy of which can be found in the nearby church.

 

It is vital to plan your visit to Lindisfarne very carefully as tides cover the 3 mile causeway and cut off the island from the mainland. We had checked the tides before planning our trip. This is imperative as the island is only accessible during low tides.

 

We arrived about 10 minutes before the designated safe time but the sea had receded enough for people to reach the island over the 3 mile causeway. I would recommend that you take extreme care when crossing.  Make notes of the safe times as apparently the lifeboats get called out regularly for stranded motorists.  The tide comes in extremely quickly.

 

Northumberland Coastal Route featured by top international travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time

 

Once across the causeway you have to park (and pay) and then walk into the village itself to reach the castle and priory.

 

As I mentioned the priory itself is the ruins of the original home of the famous Lindisfarne Gospels and the initial burial place of St Cuthbert. (now reburied in Durham Cathedral) It was founded in 635 AD by St Cuthbert but eventually abandoned in 875AD due to increasingly frequent raids by the Vikings.

 

We had a lovely walk around and I purchased a bottle of Lindisfarne Wild Peach Liqueur from the gift shop. Lindisfarne Mead is a unique alcoholic fortified wine that is manufactured on the Island. The liqueurs are also manufactured on the island. As well as the wild peach there are lots of other flavours to purchase if you are over 18. (Strawberry, Cherry, Damson etc.)

 

FIND OUT MORE | VISITING THE HOLY ISLAND OF LINDISFARNE

 

Northumberland Coastal Route featured by top international travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time: image of LINDISFARNE CASTLE ON HOLY ISLAND

 

FACTS AND FIGURES TO HELP PLAN YOUR TRIP ALONG THE NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL DRIVE

  • The scenic coastal route runs between Alnmouth and Lindisfarne (Holy Island)

 

  • It is a 35 mile trip

 

  • You will pass through a number of villages and towns- Boulmer, Craster, Embleton, Seahouses, Bamburgh and then on to Lindisfarne.

 

  • Consider a detour to Alnwick to Barter Books – if you like books you may need a few weeks  hours there at least!!

 

  • Keep an eye out for castles along the way!

 

 

 

  • Make sure to wear a hat if you are going to the Farne Islands (seagulls dive bomb!)

 

  • If walking is more your thing there is also the Northumberland coastal route to consider. This is a 64 mile stretch of the International North Sea Trail if you would rather walk along the coastline.

 


BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION ALONG THE NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL ROUTE



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I have a number of posts about Northumberland (the county of my birth) on this website with more coming soon! Subscribe for access to my free travel resource library and also to receive my monthly newsletter with travel tips and information on my latest posts.

 

 

  • Add in a trip to Alnwick – not only to visit the castle – but to experience the biggest second hand bookshop in Europe. Barter Books is housed in an old railway station and has loads of character (and books). An absolute must-visit if you are in the area!

 

 

 

 

 

 

PIN FOR LATER: PLANNING A DRIVE UP THE NORTHUMBERLAND COAST

 

Northumberland Coastal Route featured by top international travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time Northumberland Coastal Route featured by top international travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time

 

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Author: Tracy

Over the last 50 years I have lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to many more. I enjoy exploring and learning about new places and meeting people on my travels. History, reading, photography, nature and wildlife are my interests and I am ALWAYS researching and planning my next trip (preferably by train)

With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, I share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help YOU travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!

This post may contain compensated links. Please read our disclaimer for additional information.

6 thoughts on “Planning a Drive Up the Northumberland Coastal Route

  1. Marj Turnbull Smith says:

    I took 24 Swiss people last year back to my home county and they were so enthralled by everything they saw. We did get the opportunity to go out to the Farne islands and it was the highlight of their visit. Highly recommended.

  2. Pauline Patterson says:

    We too managed to take a ferry to the Farne islands in the middle of Puffin season (June 2016) it was the absolute highlight of a fantastic 7 day holiday in Northumberland. Beware the Arctic Turns which attack you as you arrive on the island. Their nests and young line the walkway! Wear a hat. The puffins are charming creatures, but we were surprised to see them being attacked by gulls for their sand eels which they were carrying to their young.
    If you are a National Trust member your entry on the island is free.

    • Tracy Collins says:

      Thanks Pauline for the tips – sounds like a great trip to make. We will definitely try and visit to Farne Islands on our next visit to Northumberland. I really would love to see the puffins!

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