Northumberland is England's northernmost county and has been called "The Best Kept Secret" in England. The coast is considered to have some of the most beautiful and rugged coastline in England as well as many lovely sandy beaches. The coast stretches approximately 60 miles between the River Tweed to the north at Berwick upon Tweed and the River Tyne to the south at Tynemouth.
There is evidence of human activity within Northumberland dating back at least 8,000 years. These people were nomadic. They followed herds of deer as well as gathered plants for food and did not build permanent houses. Next came the Romans. They ruled England from around 43AD to 303AD. Then came the Anglo-Saxon's and Christianity (306AD - 854AD), Viking's (866AD - 1031AD) and Norman's (1031AD - 1135AD). Christianity was brought to Northumberland when the Anglo-Saxon King Edwin was baptized April 11, 627 in York and again with King Oswald in 634. Oswald brought St. Aidan, whom he'd met on the Christian island of Iona while in exile, when he returned to become King of Northumbria. During the 7th century many monasteries were built on islands or headlands such as Lindisfarne (now Holy Island) and Hartlepool. We'll discuss more history of Northumberland, the Border Country, Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle in other travel links. So back to the Northumberland Coast...
Our original plan was to spend part of the day at Holy Island AND take a boat trip to the Farne Islands. When planning this trip, one has to take into account the tide schedule. Holy Island is connected to the mainland by a causeway that's covered over by water during high tide. Unfortunately, the tides didn't work in our favor and we only had time for the boat trip. For the remainder of the day we chose to take our time on our journey home, stopping in at small villages along the Coastal Route. Our boat left from the small resort town of Seahouses and took two and a half hours. The Farnes consist of almost thirty islands, which are visible at high tide and many others visible at low tide. The islands are owned by The National Trust and maintained as a nature reserve for migrating seabirds during the summer. Some of the seabirds you might see are: Puffins, Guillemots, Terns, Kittiwakes, Shags, Cormorant. Oystercatcher and Eider. Our tour guide weaved in and out of the main islands where we saw lots of playful and curious grey seals and the famous and daring route that Grace Darling and her father took in their memorable rescue of Forfareshire ship wreck victims off the coast in 1838. We docked for an hour on Inner Farne Island, where St. Cuthbert spent much of his life, and we visited the tiny 14th century chapel built in his honor. After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, the chapel fell into disuse, but was restored in 1840 by Archdeacon Charles Thorpe as well as The National Trust in 1929. Walking around the small and extremely windy island we saw lots of seabirds - mostly Shag and some Eider. On the other end of the island is the Farne Lighthouse that sits on cliffs 24 meters above the sea.
After our trip to The Farnes, we enjoyed a nice hot Latte, did a little shopping (Mike bought a very cool kite) and then headed south to the Coastal Route. Our first stop was the cutest little village called Lower Newton-by-the-Sea. When walking toward the village near the beach you can see the ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle a mile away sitting beautifully on an outcropping in the sea. The village is very tiny. It's really only just a beach and a small square or green surrounded by a Pub/Inn and holiday cottages. It just so happens that the 8th annual Music & Beer Festival on the Green was taking place when we stopped. We enjoyed the music and a half-pint of some yummy unknown beer, then were on the road again. Our route took us through Alnmouth, Warkworth, Amble and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.
It was a wonderful day out and once again we were very lucky to have lots of sunshine!!
Gabi getting comfortable in the CENTER of the boat.:
On the boat - VERY cold North Sea waves splashing on these poor souls!:
Bamburgh Castle in the distance with its beautiful sandy beaches:
A curious Grey Seal following our boat:
Inner Farne Island - The Farne Lighthouse (left) and St. Cuthbert's Chapel (right) :
St. Cuthbert's Cove on Inner Farne Island:
St. Cuthbert's Chapel - notice the bricked-up 14th century window:
Cliffs near the lighthouse on Inner Farne:
A lighthouse on one of the outer islands:
Lower Newton-by-the-Sea Music Festival:
Dunstanburgh Castle ruin:
The resort village of Alnmouth from the Coastal Route:
The village of Warkworth with the Castle in the background - owned by the Percy family of Alnwick Castle:
Amble harbour - looking back toward Warkworth Castle:
Newbiggin-by-the-Sea - beautiful church right on the ocean:
Newbiggin - Beneath the stone is a time capsule from September 9, 2000. It contains momentos of 20th century life, in poems, in picture and in writing, created by the children of Newbiggin to be opened in 100 years time:
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