Exploring the Coast and Castles in England’s Far North
We recently had a great cottage holiday in Northumberland. I thought I would share with you what I consider to be the highlights if you are thinking of a similar break. In case you didn’t know, Northumberland is the most northerly of English counties, most of it lying to the north of Hadrian’s Wall. It’s a large county with few people so plenty of wide open spaces. Here are my five best things about Northumberland which we enjoyed when on holiday as a family in the north of the county:
Don’t miss out a trip out to the Farne Islands from Seahouses to see the breeding seabirds in summer, as well as the seals. Keep an eye on the weather as the small boats will not put to sea in poor conditions – we only managed to get out on the last day of our holiday. Further down the coast at Amble there are boat trips to Coquet Island, also known as Puffin Island. If the thought of a boat trip is unappealing you can still get to visit an island, without taking a boat. Holy Island is accessible at low tide by a causeway. Most people drive over but we enjoyed walking across the sands following the posts waymarking the Pilgrims Way. It took about an hour and involved taking off our shoes and socks on the odd occasion, but was great fun.
Northumberland is renowned for its mile after mile of wide, sandy beaches often backed by sand dunes. Away from the few small seaside resorts they are usually fairly empty and perfect for a family stroll, ample room for children to play or for the brave prepared to take the plunge.
Staying on the coast, there are some great castles which capture the imagination of children and adults alike. Magnificent Bamburgh Castle dominates not only its pretty village but the stretch of coastline for many miles. Further south the ruins of Dunstanburgh have an eerie feel and were a favourite subject of the painter Turner. We enjoyed a coastal walk there from nearby Embleton. Holy Island also has its own stronghold – Lindisfarne Castle. Inland, Alnwick Castle dominates its town and you (or the children) may recognise it from its starring role as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.
Situated next to the castle, Alnwick Gardens are a joy not just for keen gardeners but also families – we spent a full day here. They have been cleverly designed with lots of opportunities for the kids to get wet and play. Children can collect water in the mini tractors, paddle in the rills, see the many ways water can move in the Serpent Garden and dodge the Grand Cascade’s jets. Plus, there’s also one of the world’s largest wooden tree houses to explore. Cragside House near Rothbury is set in gardens that are a rocky wonderland interspersed by trees through which run miles of footpaths, cycleways and a rhododendron maze. However what makes this place unique is the wealth of ingenious gadgetry in the house – installed by the Victorian inventor whose family home it was – including fire alarm buttons, telephones, a passenger lift and a Turkish bath suite.
The Wild West
A unique herd of wild cattle, in parkland at Chillingham near Wooler are the sole survivors of herds that once roamed the forests of Britain. They are truly wild – you are able to see the cattle only when accompanied by the warden who will ensure your safety. We ventured out in a very small group of people and he took us as close as possible, talking with great passion about the cattle and the herd’s history.
Peter has worked in senior positions within the travel industry for nearly 30 years and lives in the Yorkshire Dales. When he decided to set up http://www.ukcottages.co.uk he wanted to offer a website that helps holidaymakers to research an area which may be of interest to them, give an idea of what it has to offer and then present them with a selection of quality-assured accommodation from trusted partners.