The one where we explored Northumberland Part 2

Hello, me again with the second part of our Northumberland holiday. Hadn’t realised I had quite so many photos to share so thought I’d better break down the holiday review into two posts.

If you’d like to read the first part, you can find it here.

I’ll pick up on Tuesday at the end of the day when we visited Amble. We’d just watched an RNLI rescue attempt on a grounded yacht and had moved onto the pier. It was a beautiful evening and such a lovely walk.

There are a couple of piers joined together around an area of beach which looks so perfect for families as it’s really shallow. A woman and child were practicing paddle boarding and falling off was simply a calf-deep step into the sea – absolutely ideal.

There was a red and white striped lighthouse at the end of one of the piers – my favourite sort of lighthouse – but it was through a locked gate so I could only get so close to it. I don’t know what it is about lighthouses but they make me so happy. It’s on my bucket list to have a holiday in one at some point.

There are several islands off the Northumberland coast. This particular one here (also with a lighthouse on it) is Coquet Island, a mile from the coast of Amble. It’s a haven for puffins who breed there in the spring.

On the beach I mentioned earlier – the very family-friendly one – there’s a lovely set of beach huts all beautifully painted in different colours. Beach huts are also a love of mine even though I’ve never owned or hired one. They’re just so pretty to look at.

The following day – Wednesday – we were back to the gloomy weather. It wasn’t cold – it was just dull. We’d decided this was the best day for a trip to Lindisfarne aka Holy Island based round the tide times and how long we wanted to be there. For those who aren’t familiar with Holy Island, it’s off the Northumberland coast, a little south of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, and is approached on a causeway which gets flooded by the rising tide, cutting the island off twice daily. Careful planning is therefore needed around when to cross based on when is safe and how long you want to spend on the island.

We didn’t want to spend a full day there this time as we still had a lot of other activities we wanted to squeeze in. We’ve also been several times before and our main aim was to explore Lindisfarne Castle which we haven’t been to on previous visits. The castle is run by the National Trust but dogs can’t go in so hubby stayed near the entrance and my daughter and I had a quick explore. There are great views from the castle but the photos don’t really do justice to them with the weather being so dull.

Photo credit for the boat pic on the left (above) goes to the hubby. I took one but mine wasn’t nearly as good!

Our plan on leaving Holy Island was to visit Bamburgh Castle but hubby had read about a lighthouse and a stag rock just north of the castle which we went to visit first. This took us on a walk along the beach and back along the cliff path. I’m so glad we did this walk as it was really interesting with lots of rocks and rock pools on the beach and, of course, a lighthouse.

There were some old WWII sea defence blocks on the beach which had been turned into dice and Rubik’s Cubes which looked great and made the concrete blocks so much more interesting.

Bamburgh Castle

Is it just me, or do you think that lighthouse has faces on it? I see a face at the front and on the left side of it!

As we got closer to Bamburgh Castle, we could see it was very busy and decided not to visit on this occasion as we went on our last visit. If you’ve not been before, I do highly recommend it as it’s a great place to explore and the beaches on either side are beautiful.

We were really shattered from so many days out and out – many of them very breezy – so we decided to head back to the holiday apartment via a quick stop-off in Alnwick for a gelato. Yum yum!

The plan for Thursday went a little wrong. We’d intended to visit Alnwick Castle on the morning then meet with my parents for lunch in Alnwick. I nipped onto the website while we had lunch on the Wednesday to check opening times and prices and there was a big notice saying you needed to book and walk-ups probably couldn’t be accommodated. Eek! I tried to book but there were no tickets left. Double eek! If there were no bookable tickets, the likelihood of a walk-up place felt very remote and we weren’t willing to take that risk so that scuppered things somewhat.

Hubby needed to work that morning so I decided that we’d have to skip the castle but placated the daughter by suggesting we did the crazy golf instead. We’d spotted this as part of The Alnwick Garden attraction but it’s entered separately so you don’t have to be going to the garden to get in. It had been very people-y when we visited the garden with big queues but I wondered if we might be able to whizz through it more quickly if we booked the first slot on Thursday morning so that’s what we did.

We were the first on The Forgotten Garden Adventure Golf and actually made it to hole six before anyone joined us. It was so nice not having anyone right behind us but also not having to wait for a large family to finish as I hate feeling like I’m putting pressure on others by queueing.

It’s a brilliant crazy golf course and reasonably priced (£4.80 for adults and £3.80 for children at the point of writing this). Watch out for the spider, though, as it spits venom! I wondered why the path near it was so wet!

As we whizzed through the golf and had already looked round Alnwick, we weren’t sure what to do for the rest of the morning until we met my parents so I suggested another trip to Barter Books where we could get a hot chocolate.

When we’d visited earlier in the week, two of my books had been on the fiction shelf but I was surprised and delighted to see they’d been joined by Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow so, of course, I had to have my photo taken with all three of them.

We had a lovely hot chocolate and shared a piece of shortbread and a Malteser tray bake in one of the old station lounges. If you’ve never visited Barter Books, I really do recommend it. Packed with pre-loved books and a stack of 1st editions/collector’s items, it does great food and is so beautifully set out with a miniature railway running round one section.

As we left, I glanced across at the fiction section where my three books had been earlier and look what I spotted…

That’s right! The hedgehogs had gone! At some point during the hour (probably not even that long) that we were in Barter Books, somebody had been in and had bought one of my books! It blew my mind a bit to think that somebody had done that with absolutely no idea that the author was in the building. They might have even walked past me holding it! If that was you, thank you. We nearly met!

We met up with my parents for lunch after that and then hubby and the dog picked us up and we returned to Amble so we could visit the beach hut gift shops which had been closed by the time we got there earlier in the week. I treated myself to a silver necklace with a heart over a deep blue piece of seaglass, thinking of Hollie from The Starfish Café series who collects seaglass for her crafting.

We then travelled up the coast to Low Newton by the Sea. This was another place we hadn’t been before. It’s a little north of Embleton from where we’d walked to Dunstanburgh Castle on the Monday and we could have extended the walk to set off from there but hadn’t wanted to leave Mum and my daughter alone for the longer time that would have taken us.

I’m not sure about Low Newton. It’s a village mainly owned by the National Trust and appeared to have a lot of holiday homes in it. The village part was pretty and there’s no doubting the beach was lovely but we took a walk over the sand dunes and there were lots of wooden buildings which seemed too big to be beach huts but quite remote to be holiday cottages (in that you can’t access them by cars). Some looked cared for but others were quite rundown and I personally found it a little creepy. I have no idea why it affected me this way and I’m sure most would completely disagree but you know how sometimes a place simply doesn’t do it for you and you can’t pinpoint why? This was my place. Which was a shame as it really brought my mood plummeting which doesn’t happen often.

Thankfully our final stop of the day was much nicer for me personally – the fishing village of Craster further south. The sun was out and the harbour was calm. We had a drink in the pub overlooking the harbour and, even though I was a bit gutted they’d run out of crisps, it was a lovely end to the day.

In the bottom three photos, you can just see Dunstanburgh Castle in the distance. On our last visit to the area in February 2018, we walked to the castle from Craster. It’s a gorgeous walk across the cliff tops but we did it from the other side this time.

All too soon, our holiday was over. We packed up the car and set off home on Friday morning. Our plan was to visit National Trust run Cragside. I was really looking forward to this because it meant we still had one more day of our holiday and would be visiting somewhere else we’d not been before.

First thing I said to hubby on setting off was, ‘You do know the way to Cragside?’ He assured me he did. I had no idea where it was in proximity to Alnwick so I trusted him and didn’t look at the map. Big mistake. We seemed to be travelling a long way down the A1 before he admitted he thought we may have gone too far. We had! In fact, we shouldn’t even have gone on the A1 at all. It was actually south west from Alnwick along a back road. Google Maps told us it would take us 40 minutes to turn round and drive back. We weren’t going to do that and, with no particular inspiration as to where to go via on the way home, we headed straight back. Not the ideal end to the hols but these things happen …. usually to us!

It was a good week but not as amazing as our Easter break in the Lakes. We struggled to find pubs to eat in where dogs were welcome or where you didn’t have to have booked well in advance. It’s not easy to book a pub before you go to an area and don’t know the pubs! We couldn’t get in Alnwick Castle because there were no tickets, and we did have a couple of driving round a car park aimlessly moments as it was way busier than we’re used to. Hubby also had more work to do than he’d anticipated which was a shame, although it did mean that the daughter and I could go to places where dogs aren’t welcome. All these things cast a few shadows over an otherwise bright week. I loved that we discovered some new-to-us places like the riverside walk in Berwick, Alnmouth, the beach and piers area at Amble and the northern side of Bamburgh Beach with the lighthouse and Stag Rock. We’ll definitely return and visit all of those on our next trip. And, of course, a personal special moment for me was being in a bookshop when someone bought one of my books, even if I didn’t see it happen.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my second set of photos. Enjoy what’s left of your Monday.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

4 thoughts on “The one where we explored Northumberland Part 2

  1. Thank you so much for the latest posts Jessica. Really enjoyed reading them. I love that part of the country. Interesting as always and some lovely photos. Glad you had good (mostly) break. Susan x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve really enjoyed reading your account of your holiday in an area which is much loved by us. We haven’t visited for a few years now but your blog has caused me to revisit my happy memories. We went several times with my late parents and those memories are so very precious. Thank you for sharing your holiday and photos with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks very much, Lynn. Glad you’ve enjoyed revisiting your happy memories. I’m so sorry your parents are no longer with you – sending hugs. Pleased my photos brought you some precious reminiscing moments x

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