Discover the spectacular Northumberland Coast, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The Northumberland Coast is famed for its vast sweeping sandy beaches, dunes, dramatic rocky promontories and tidal Islands.
Within this striking landscape is evidence of human inhabitation for more than 7,000 years. Giant castles are a legacy of the desperate attempt to protect Britain from Scandinavian invasion and random attacks. The arrival of seabirds has been more welcome, who have taken up residence on coastal rocks. The dunes, saltmarsh, sandy and muddy shores provide conditions for various wildlife to thrive.
Tour the Northumberland Coast en-route to Scotland or stay overnight and enjoy a region of Britain lesser-known, but with so much to offer. We can customise a Tour of England that encompasses the wild northeast.
A brief history of places to see on The Northumberland Coast
The isolation attracted early Christian foundations, and most likely the beauty, and the security offered by a tidal island of what became to be known as Holy Island. In 635 ad Saint Aidan from Scotland founded a monastic community around the volcanic mound and tidal island. The Island settlement became known as Lindisfarne (or Holy Island) and forever associated with St Cuthbert, prior of Lindisfarne. The wealth of the prior provoked interest from across the north sea in the shape of Viking raids. In 875 ad, the monks finally left and took St Cuthbert remains with them to Durham. In the 12th Century, the Priory on Lindisfarne was re-established. They are the romantic ruins you see today.
Lindisfarne Castle is seen for many miles around, sitting majestically on a huge volcanic rock, projecting into the sea. In 1550, after the dissolution of the monasteries, the military used the stone from the priory to construct the castle. After hundreds of years in use as a garrison, Edward Hudson discovered the fort in a relatively decent state and set about turning it into a comfortable home between the years 1903-1906.
Bamburgh Castle is another piece of Northumberland Coastal history. Bamburgh has guarded the northeast shoreline for 1,400 years. Nine acres walls, turrets and barbicans sit on its rocky plateau. Incidentally, Bamburgh Castle is one of the largest homes in the country.
Northumbria was just one of several Kingdoms, but the largest within England and Bamburgh was the royal capital. Ferocious defensive battles took place at Bamburgh following violent Viking attacks in the 990s. William the Conqueror takes control in the 11th Century, making Bamburgh a vital border garrison, serving as a stronghold and base for attacks and defence against the Scotts.
When the industrialist Lord Armstrong acquired Bamburgh in the late 19th Century, it was a ruin, and the family proceeded to transform it into a spectacular home. Today the castle is owned and maintained by Francis Watson-Armstrong and it is a fabulous place to visit.
A short drive from Bamburgh is a rather majestic old fort, Dunstanburgh Castle. It’s battered remains is testament to its exciting existence as a castle under siege on many occasions. The Earl of Lancaster built the castle between 1313 and 1322. The Crown upgraded the defences due to worrying threats from Scotland.
During the famous royal family feud, the Wars of the Roses, the castle changed hands from the House of Lancaster to the House of York several times, much like a series of the Game of Thrones. Ultimately, troops left the site in ruins, so now battle scared Dunstanburgh is a romantic old fort on the beautiful Northumberland Coast. It is a wonderful sight to see, watch our video, scroll up to see the link.
Alnwick Castle is known today as a film location for the Harry Potter movies. Harry Potters first lesson in broomstick flying took place at Hogwarts Castle, aka Alnwick Castle. Great historical strongholds tend to be the homes of families with grand titles. Titles do not get much higher than a ‘Duke’, Alnwick is the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Northumberland.
Like many great forts in England, Alnwick’s history begins with the Normans. Unlike Dunstanburgh, Alnwick seems to have been made with sterner stuff, having survived several battles and sieges. In more peaceful times, the grounds were remodelled by yes you have guessed it Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Over the year the interior has been filled with palatial furniture and art by Titian, Van Dyck and Canaletto.
Nearly all great homes in Britain have served as something other than gigantic homes for the powerful. Alnwick has been a military outpost, evacuees, a teaching college and film set. Join us on a driver-guided tour of the northeast and explore beaches, castles and enjoy Hogwarts style broomstick training at Alnwick Castle.
Bird watching on the Farne Islands
A short boat trip off the Northumberland Coast is some of the largest sea bird colonies on earth. The Farne Islands are a scattering of fifteen to twenty islands, subject to the tide. The seabirds colonise these outposts during the spring and summer. Over 300,000 birds descend on the Northumberland Coast.
There are 23 different birds species, including the adorable puffin, and you could see shag, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbill and gannets. There is also a population of grey seals. During the Autumn (fall), over 1,000 seal pups are born; We can arrange a private or group boat trip to experience these wildlife encounters.
Touring and accommodation
The Northumberland Coast is a long way from London and requires planning by the Luxury Vacations UK office team. It makes sense to have us arrange a driver-guided tour of Britain and include a day or preferably a couple of nights stay in the area. We have a database of the traditional restaurants with rooms style of accommodation which works well. Alternatively, the drive from York to Edinburgh can include a couple of stops on the Northumberland Coast. Contact us for further information.
If this is your first time to England, we would recommend a custom version of our Town and Country Tour; it covers the famous places and allows you to utilise your private driver-guide by getting-off-the-beaten-path. Our Classic tour of Ireland is a good place to start for the first trip to Ireland, and we suggest the Classic tour of Scotland for your first trip to the bonny Highlands.
Discover England's Spectacular North East Coast
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
- Seabird Sightseeing Boat Trips (150,000 seabird in Summer)
- Explore the Harry Potter Film Set at Alnwick Castle and have a Broomstick Lesson
- Tour the Castle on the Beach, Bamburgh
- Discover the Christian Heritage of Holy Island
- Picnic in the Dunes
Dunstanburgh Castle with moon rise
The ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle
Formidable Bamburgh Castle on the shoreline
Puffins on the Farne Islands