The Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is one of Britain's most spectacular coastlines. Both The Farne Islands off shore from Seahouses and Coquet Island off shore from Amble are two of Britain's most important and protected sites for breeding seabirds including puffins, terns and guillemots. The Farne Islands are also home to one of Europe's largest colony of grey seals. A wide choice of birdwatching and seal watching boat trips to The Farne Islands are available from Seahouses Harbour. Boat trips to Coquet Island can be booked via the Northumberland Seabird Centre on Amble Quayside.
You can walk the entire stretch of the Northumberland Coast AONB via the Northumberland Coast Path which stretches 64 miles from Cresswell in the south to Berwick-upon-Tweed in the north. Other popular walking trails in the area include St Oswald's Way which stretches 97 miles from Holy Island to Hadrian's Wall and St Cuthbert's Way which stretches just over 62 miles from Melrose to Lindisfarne. The North Sea Cycle Route also pushes up the Northumberland Coast to Berwick.
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, a tidal island cut off twice daily by the tides, is one of England's most visited attractions. The Lindisfarne Gospels were written here by Bishop Eadfrith in 698AD and are one of Britain's most precious ancient texts. Dramatic and spectacular castles on the Northumberland Coast include Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island, Warkworth Castle, Bamburgh Castle and Dunstanburgh Castle.
Elizabethan ramparts feature at historic Berwick-upon-Tweed which also boasts an outstanding selection of independent local shops and twice weekly markets showcasing Northumberland local produce. Award winning seafood on the Northumberland Coast includes the legendary Craster Kippers and you can sample the delicious Lindisfarne Mead at St Aidan's Winery situated on Holy Island. The Northumberland Coast is also a mecca for lovers of watersports. Best diving sites can be found around Beadnell, Seahouses and the Farne Islands. The waters here contain a number of shipwrecks. Great sailing features around both Beadnell and Amble and topspots for sea kayaking are around Bamburgh, Holy Island and The Farne Islands.
Outdoor activities such as golf and horse riding on numerous stunning beaches are also widely available along the Northumberland Coast. Acclaimed arts festivals are held annually at both Alnmouth and Berwick and not to be missed is a visit to one of the North East's premier world class attractions, the family friendly Woodhorn Northumberland Museum and Country Park in Ashington.
A visit to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne is a unique adventure on the Northumberland Coast for thousands of visitors annually. Holy Island is a tidal island cut off twice every day by the tides. Holy Island Tide Tables for safe crossing times are available to view online prior to your visit on the Northumberland Life website, Northumberland County Council's website and on The Holy Islanders' website guide to Holy Island. Tide times are also listed on a noticeboard in the car park situated just before you access the Holy Island Causeway.
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is one of the North East's most visited historic attractions and an integral historic site in the earliest history of Christianity in Britain. St Cuthbert was Bishop of Lindisfarne from 684 to 686AD. After St Cuthbert's death in around 698AD Bishop Eadfrith wrote The Lindisfarne Gospels, one of Britain's most treasured ancient texts, here on Holy Island. You can view an interactive copy of the Lindisfarne Gospels at the superb Lindisfarne Heritage Centre on Holy Island.
Lindisfarne Priory ruins, cared for by English Heritage, include an adjacent museum exhibit on the priory. The spectacular Lindisfarne Castle, elevated on a hard rocky outcrop of the distinctly Northumberland Great Whin Sill natural feature, dates later from the Tudor period. Lindisfarne Castle, cared for by the National Trust was famously remodelled to a design by Edwin Lutyens as an Edwardian home. Alongside the famous historic attractions of Lindisfarne Castle and Lindisfarne Priory, the stunning wildlife and coast around Holy Island draws many visitors for horse riding, walking and sea kayaking. Several days are really needed to appreciate the many sights and sounds of this beautiful island off the Northumberland Coast.
Facilities and amenities on Holy Island are extensive and include a selection of craft and gift shops, pubs, restaurants and a choice of Holy Island B&Bs and hotels. St Aidan's Winery, who produce the delicious Lindisfarne Mead, is also located on Holy Island. Tours and tasting sessions in the winery are available and you can purchase the famous Lindisfarne Mead and other fine Northumberland local produce at the Lindisfarne Craft Shop on the premises.
Beautiful Bamburgh village on the Northumberland Coast, once the mighty stronghold of the ancient kings of Northumbria, is dominated by Bamburgh Castle. Like Lindisfarne Castle, Bamburgh Castle sits spectacularly atop of a rocky plateau. The magnificent Norman keep of Bamburgh Castle is a particular highlight in this family friendly attraction in Bamburgh.
Other attractions in Bamburgh include its breathtaking beach, one of the Northumberland Coast's best award winning beaches which affords stunning views towards Holy Island and the nearby off shore Farne Islands. Coastal walking is spectacular along Bamburgh beach towards Seahouses where you'll find a choice of boat trips to the Farne Islands.
A Bamburgh museum not to be missed is the Grace Darling Museum which explores in-depth the story of the legendary Victorian sea rescue in 1838 by Grace and her father William, the lighthouse keeper on Longstone, one of the Outer Farne Islands.
Within Bamburgh village you will find an excellent choice of fine pubs, cosy tearooms and luxury B&Bs, small hotels and self catering accommodation. Bamburgh is perfect for romantic breaks and coastal walking all year round and is ideally situated on the Northumberland Coast for easy access to other top attractions including Holy Island, boat trips to the Farne Islands from nearby Seahouses, historic Berwick-upon-Tweed and attractions in Alnwick.
Top family friendly holiday base Seahouses on the Northumberland Coast is the main centre for boat trips to the Farne Islands which sit just two to three miles off the coast. Seahouses town and harbour is a friendly and lively bustle of activity. A superb choice of Seahouses family holiday parks sit near the town centre and around Seahouses centre are ample facilities including great character family pubs, cafes, restaurants and shops. Family seaside attractions such as crazy golf and cycling also feature at Seahouses.
A wide choice of boat trips to the Farne Islands are available from Seahouses Harbour. The Farne Islands attract many visitors for a variety of reasons. The Farnes are essentially one of the most famous sea bird sanctuaries in Britain and are cared for by the National Trust. Not only are they a favourite nesting site for seabirds, The Farne Islands are also home to a large colony of Grey or Atlantic Seals. Birdwatching and seal watching boat trips to the Farne Islands are available all year round. The Farne Islands are also a top location for diving and sea kayaking. Numerous wrecks sit along this stretch of the Northumberland Coast with its crystal clear waters and seal population, making it a favourite with divers.
Inner Farne was where St Cuthbert lived and died. Cuthbert returned to Inner Farne to die after his two year period as Bishop of Lindisfarne. One of two St Cuthbert chapels survives on Inner Farne. The Outer Farne island of Longstone Rock is also famously associated with Grace Darling's rescue. The Longstone Lighthouse dating from 1825 is open to the public for tours.
Berwick-upon-Tweed on the far northern edge of the Northumberland Coast bordering Scotland is a unique and special small town. Berwick is a Cittaslow town and part of an international collective of small towns which place an emphasis on distinctiveness and quality of life for both visitors and residents. Northumberland local produce, weekly markets and independent shops in Berwick all feature strongly around the town centre.
Berwick-upon-Tweed boasts an outstanding high number of historic buildings and features from its Elizabethan rampart walls to its Georgian Barracks and town house B&Bs. You can walk the entire length of the Berwick walls which surround the town taking in panoramic views of the sea and the River Tweed en-route.
The Berwick Barracks, cared for by English Heritage and the first purpose-built barracks to be built in England, were designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and contain a selection of attractions and exhibits including the Berwick Museum & Art Gallery and a Regimental Museum.
Berwick also boasts a fantastic arts scene centred around the acclaimed Maltings Theatre Film & Arts Centre in Berwick. Not to be missed is the annual September Berwick-upon-Tweed Film & Media Arts Festival.
Idyllic Northumberland Coast village Alnmouth is fast gaining a reputation as an arts centre and hosts the popular Alnmouth Arts Festival annually in late June. Alnmouth nestles alongside the River Aln and features a spectacular sandy beach which is popular for horse riding and coastal walking. A superb selction of Alnmouth restaurants, pubs, coffee shops and select gift shops can be found in Alnmouth centre, making the village an ideal Northumberland Coast holiday base. Outdoor activities in Alnmouth include the Alnmouth Golf Course and the village is a popular base for both walking and cycling.
Cycling around Alnmouth features along the North Sea Cycle Route and walking is popular along St Oswald's Way long distance walking route. Alnmouth is also ideally situated on the Northumberland Coast for easy access to nearby Alnwick attractions and is just a short drive away from Rothbury and the Northumberland National Park. Other top attractions such as Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle are also within easy reach of Alnmouth.
Historic Warkworth village is dominated by the spectacular Warkworth Castle, one of the mighty strongholds of the Northumbrian Percy family. Warkworth Castle's late 14th century Keep is one of the best preserved castle keeps in Britain. Other historic attractions in Warkworth include the late medieval Warkworth Hermitage Chapel accessible only by boat across the River Coquet. Boasting stunning riverside walks and a beautiful beach, Warkworth village also contains a superb choice of luxury B&Bs, hotels, fine restaurants and pubs.
Nearby coastal village Amble, with its pretty harbour and award winning marina, is a topspot on the Northumberland Coast for watersports including surfing, sailing and canoeing. Coquet Yacht Club sits within Amble Marina and offers a year round programme of sailing races and regattas.
Amble is also the main location for boat trips around Coquet Island, an RSPB reserve situated just one mile off the coast from Amble. Coquet Island is a protected island and home to large colonies of seabirds including terns, puffins and eider ducks. Boat trips around Coquet Island (no landing is permitted because of its protected status) are available during the peak seabird breeding season across late spring and summer. You can view seabirds on Coquet Island all year round via live CCTV images at the superb Northumberland Seabird Centre on Amble Quayside. Boat trips to Coquet Island are also available to book from the Seabird Centre.
Wonderfully peaceful Craster coastal village with its tiny harbour on the Northumberland Coast is home to the famous Craster Kippers, traditionally smoked in Craster by the Robsons for well over a century.
Coastal walking from Craster, both to the south and north along the Northumberland Coast Path is some of the most spectacular along the Northumberland Coast AONB. Just over one mile north of Craster along the coast path sits the spectacular ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. Once the mighty fortress of the powerful baron, Earl Thomas of Lancaster who began building Dunstanburgh Castle in 1313, the castle took considerable batterings during the War of the Roses. The remains of Dunstanburgh's great twin towered gatehouse is particularly striking and the gentle coastal walk from Craster is one of the highlight coastal walks on the Northumberland Coast.
Beyond Dunstanburgh sits the beautiful beach bay at Embleton and Low Newton. Both Embleton and Low Newton villages boast a choice of fine character pubs, cafes and a selection of B&B accommodation. All three locations - Craster, Embleton and Low Newton are top accommodation bases for some of the most spectacular coastal walking along the Northumberland Coast AONB. A large tourist information centre also features in Craster. Here you can pick up leaflets on ancient Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age sites situated just south of Craster along the coast near Howick.
Howick is also home to the popular attraction Howick Hall Gardens. The gardens here at Howick Hall rank with the best of British gardens and are a treasure trove for garden lovers. Howick Hall is the historic family home of the Grey family whose most famous member was Charles, the Second Earl Grey who went on to become a Whig prime minister in 1830. The original blend of Earl Grey tea heralds from Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey at Howick Hall who requested a blend of tea that would offset the distinctive taste of limestone in Northumberland water. Twinnings later went on to market the Earl Grey blend which today sells globally.
Beadnell Bay and Harbour is another topspot for watersports on the Northumberland Coast such as diving, sailing, kitesurfing, windsurfing and surfing. A selection of shipwrecks sit off Beadnell Bay as well as just to the north around the Farne Islands and Seahouses. These wrecks combined with the beautiful clear waters in the area make both Beadnell and Seahouses excellent diving locations on the Northumberland Coast. Beadnell, which has its own sailing club on the harbour road, is a popular spot for summer boat mooring alongside the Kettle on the Farne Islands.
Historic Beadnell Harbour features one of the best examples of 19th century lime kilns which can be found elsewhere too on the Northumberland Coast at Seahouses Harbour and on Holy Island. The lime kilns at Beadnell are cared for by the National Trust. These are what remain from what was once a major industry on the Northumberland Coast. Lime was both exported and used in agriculture locally as a fertilizer.
Slightly inland, the pretty village of Chathill boasts a selection of charming luxury farmhouse B&Bs and hotels, and Chathill railway station affords direct rail links to Morpeth and Newcastle. Chathill is home to a Household & Farming Museum and is ideally situated for easy access to Alnwick attractions, Bamburgh Castle and Holy Island.
To discover the history of Northumberland and one of the North East's top family friendly museums, Ashington home to the Woodhorn Northumberland Museum Archives and Country Park is where to head. Situated on the site of the former Woodhorn Colliery, one of many Northumberland Collieries once in operation around Ashington and the Lynemouth coast, the museum boasts a wide selection of listed colliery buildings alongside a cutting edge new museum building and archive centre.
The true spirit of Northumberland is to be found in interactive exhibits at Woodhorn like 'Coal Town' which takes you on a journey through the history of coal mining in the local Ashington area. This history is brought alive for children through sights, smells and interactive exhibits at Woodhorn. State-of-the-art computer simulated experiences like Woodhorn's 'Big Screen Show' take you back in time to experience what it was like to endure backbreaking and highly skilled work underground. Special exhibitions and events at Woodhorn feature all year round and include Christmas visits by Mrs Claus and a wide choice of family activities.
Around the Woodhorn Museum site sits the beautiful QEII Country Park in Ashington which features a host of family attractions including nature walks and cycling trails and a 40 acre lake.
On permanent display at the Woodhorn Museum in Ashington are a collection of paintings by the Ashington Group. This art group consisted of former miners who began painting scenes of local life around Ashington from the 1930s. Painted by former miners who were well aware of the skill in coal mining and the ups and downs in mining communities, the Ashington Group's depictions of miners at work, at home, Saturday night at the club and local community events are moving social documents and a highlight at Woodhorn. A stunning collection of Northumberland Miners' Banners are also on display at Woodhorn.