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Northumbria Coast: Pub, Grub, Birds and Blisters

Northumbria Coast: Pub, Grub, Birds and Blisters

Old May 21st, 2016, 09:10 AM
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Northumbria Coast: Pub, Grub, Birds and Blisters

We stayed at Seahouses, which is not the most attractive resort in Northumbria but offers access to some truly wonderful places. In addition, it has a super pub: The Olde Ship Inn and a smoke house that sells tasty kippers. The town also has three fish and chip restaurants and various other takeaways.
Seahouses offer boat trips to the Farne Islands where there are thousands of seabirds and we saw puffins, kittiwakes, cormorants and shags, razorbills and gannets. The place is teeming with birdlife and spring is a good time to go. I suspect Northumbria is a dry county, we only experienced rain once and that was in the middle of the night.
Near to Seahouses are some wonderful coastal walks: Seahouses to Banburgh Castle; Seahouses to Craster etc. Holy Island (Lindisfarne) is a short car trip away.
Alnwick is nearby – which I wasn’t particularly impressed with apart from a whacky bookshop called Barter Books, where I could have spent the whole day. It’s a converted station platform that has a model railway chugging round your head as you browse thousands of books – some of which are quite rare.
Warkworth Castle is about 10 miles away and you can double it up with a visit to Alnmouth, yet another charming seaside resort.
Nortumbria is blessed with some fabulous pubs most of them selling excellent food including fish.
The Craster Arms at Beadnell sell enormous fish and chips which is truly tasty, but as well they serve a range of other food. There is a restaurant at Amble which serve fish platters cooked on their wood burning stoves. The Jolly Fisherman at Craster sell their famous crab sandwiches and offer real ales. The two most atmospheric pubs were the Ship at Newton-by-the-sea and the Olde Ship Inn at Seahouses.
The Ship has flag floors and brews its beer on the premises and has a rustic menu. It is tucked around the corner of a charming village and you can sit outside in the sun – its quite a sheltered spot. The Olde Ship (Seahouses) is full of memorabilia and crammed packed with locals who must be the most friendly people in England but I was disappointed with the food there which was a shame.
Many of the pubs on Northumbria’s coast sell real ale and the Castle View at Warkworth also brew their own beer.
Northumbria is a place not frequently mentioned on Fodors but is well worth placing on an agenda if visiting the North of England.
stevelyon is offline  
Old May 21st, 2016, 09:15 AM
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>>Northumbria is a place not frequently mentioned on Fodors but is well worth placing on an agenda if visiting the North of England.
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Old May 21st, 2016, 09:27 AM
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We visited the Gardens at Alnwick, one of our walking group members was keen to visit there. I thought it was a bit of a rip off - delightful gardens for sure - but £12 for a garden that is very small in comparison to most stately home gardens! And once in, they then try and sell you lots of other things. In essence you are paying £12 for the privilege of browsing their shop and buying their food.
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Old May 21st, 2016, 09:47 AM
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I have done my bit in recommending the Northumbrian coast on Fodor's, along with the adjacent Scottish coastal areas between the border and Edinburgh.

I had the good fortune to work for a short time alongside the Alnwick local authority's chief executive (in a city management exchange program/me) and attended a couple of formal events at Alnwick Castle (dowager Duchess at our table, numerous dead beasties looking down on us.) The castle is quite spectacular but to me, the real appeal of the coast are the things you experienced - Bamburgh, the Farnes (including magical if often overrun Lindisfarne), the birds, the emptiness of it all. Lovely.

I also like traveling inland between the Northumberland coast and the Lothians, over the Lammermuir Hills, with a stop at the Black Bull in Etal, northernmost thatched pub in England. Really an off-the-beaten path route.
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Old May 21st, 2016, 10:02 AM
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JUst out of curiosity, stevelyon - how come the blisters?
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Old May 21st, 2016, 11:02 AM
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Embleton beach with Dunstanburgh Castle at one end and the Ship Inn at Low Newton at the other is a wonderful walk.

Just watch out for Robson Green.

PS The county is Northumberland; Northumbria is the ancient kingdom (and a marketing idea).
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Old May 21st, 2016, 04:56 PM
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I have also tried to recommend Northumberland too - an area we love very much. I could live in Barter Books - their cafe is very nice as well as the amazing book selection.
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Old May 21st, 2016, 06:18 PM
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Back in 1971 I camped for a few days in a farmer's fields near Bamburgh Castle. Visited Alnwick and walked the shore. I'd seen pictures of the castle in the Underground and wanted to see it firsthand. In those days I was a know-at-all college student without a guidebook, so I missed many highlights of the region. I've always wanted to return. The OP's atmospheric description makes that more likely!
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Old May 21st, 2016, 11:36 PM
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Where IS that damn smoke house in Seahouses? I've spent half the past week trying to find it.

Incidentally, most people on this forum are likely to pay far less than £12 to get into The Alnwick Garden. The old-folk price (£10) is then further discounted 20% for most other cardholders, so with - say - English Heritage membership, that further falls to £8.

About the price of a decent sized glass of wine at the Jolly Fisherman. Or a pair of Craster kippers in the region's overpriced farmshops (or at the Craster smokery). Or of the worst fish & chips I've had in years (from a waitress whose surliness would get her fired from any decent Cotswold gastropub) in Seahouses.

The Alnwick Garden at least has the excuse of unfortunate comparisons. Most recent grand gardens (like the Eden Project or the QE2 park in Stratford, London) have soaked up gazillions of public money. Most other "stately home" style gardens were either built when labour was virtually free (like Blenheim) or were labours of love by enthusiasts (like Hidcote or Kiftsgate), and are now managed largely by free volunteers. The Percy family has coughed up most of the Alnwick redevelopment cost, and the resultant business has to fund both the site's continuing extension and the substantial workforce employed on the site.

The Alnwick Garden isn't a rip-off: it's a misconceived folly, unsustainable except by charging prices that look like a rip-off when compared to similar gardens hugely subsidised by our taxes or by previous generations.

The prevailing level of catering and access prices in the area, however (consistently more or less identical to Cotswold prices, with far less excuse) can't be explained away as easily. I suspect the underlying problems are the area's short visitor season and the coast's terrifying depopulation: practically every house in Craster displayed an "available for rent" plaque, and an extraordinary proportion of bar and restaurant staff (in a region with some of Britain's highest unemployment) had Central or Southern European accents.
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Old May 22nd, 2016, 04:30 AM
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Blisters? Not really, it rounded the title off better - but to be fair, we were on a walking (more like boozing) holiday. Plantar fasciitis doesn't really fit well in the title; this is what a couple of the group members seem to have and there is little they seem to be able to do about it.

Seahouses smoke house is adjacent to the Swallow Inn and Schooner Inn. If still unsure there is a guided historic walk that takes it in at the weekends for a fiver - one of our group did it and they said it was very good.

Flanneruk, you must have ate at the same fish and chip place as I did - I wasn't enamoured and wish we had chosen somewhere else .... but most seem to shut around six.

The trip up to Seahouses, although long can be turned to advantage. We chose a different route on the way back to Manchester and decided to leave the A1 at Ripon and this road takes you through delightful places in Nidderdale (or near to) like Pately Bridge (never been before); Fountains Abbey; Brimham Rocks; Stump Cross Cavern; the Angel Inn at Hetton. Glorious Yorkshire.
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Old May 22nd, 2016, 06:54 AM
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"Nidderdale (or near to) like Pately Bridge (never been before); Fountains Abbey; Brimham Rocks; Stump Cross Cavern; the Angel Inn at Hetton. Glorious Yorkshire."

When we have friends up from the barren south we do this route and drop in Bolton Abbey to make a very busy day. Best finished with a "Kashmiri".
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Old Jun 20th, 2016, 06:32 AM
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Stevelyon - I clicked on your name after you'd posted on my current thread and found this delightful report, which you posted while I was on holiday. I passed through Yorkshire and Northumberland years ago on a road trip with an English friend, and have yearned to go back since, although trips with my mom have taken us elsewhere.

Love that you added "blisters" as a sort of literary enhancement.

I will bookmark this thread for future reference.
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