Aug 302015

Following holidays in the Outer Hebrides and Herm, I chose Northumberland in mid-August for my final week away for 2015. This was a county that I had travelled through on the East Coast train line several times, but I had never stopped there. I had been told by many people that the county was a picturesque place, and so it turned out.

Lapwing 43 front view
Lapwing 43, our caravan for the week

Sandra and I stayed in a luxury caravan at Seafields Caravan Park on the edge of the village of Seahouses, a pretty coastal village with an attractive harbour with views out to the Farne Islands and Bamburgh Castle. Unfortunately, our caravan was an easy fifteen minutes stroll from the harbour and beach, but there was always a parking space available if we wanted to use the car.

Take your pick
Boat trip operators line-up to take your fare

The main attraction in Seahouses is the boat trips out to the Farne Islands, and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne further away. There were several operators running boat trips from the harbour, and we chose to travel in the catamaran Serenity II for the very reasonable cost of £15 each. The Farne Islands lie a couple of miles off the Northumberland coast, but the boat trip lasted over two and a half hours and included a tour around the islands, and a one hour stay on Inner Farne. Unfortunately, on our visit, I hadn’t realised my camera battery was flat, and I was unable to take any photographs.

Inner Farne in the haze
Inner Farne from Seahouse Harbour

Feeling cheated by the lack of photographic evidence, I booked another trip later in the week when I was able to get some close-up shots of seals, kittiwakes and shags. Unfortunately, we were too late to see the puffin and little tern colonies, although I did spot a couple of puffins in the distance on my second visit. Hopefully, we will have better luck next year as we have booked a return visit to Seahouses in July, this time in a seafront apartment.

Cricket and Castle (1)Cricket at the foot of Bamburgh Castle

While we were in the area, we joined the National Trust, who own the Farne Islands, and visited their properties of Bamburgh Castle, Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island and Wallington Hall. We also made a fleeting visit to Alnwick Castle and Gardens, but the queue for admission must have been a couple of hundred strong, so we abandoned the idea.

Bamburgh, and its magnificent hill-top castle is a pretty little place with a cricket ground nestled at the foot of the castle, a stone’s throw from the beach. There was a match on when we visited and I was able to take several shots of the ground from the field, and from the top os the castle. The Castle itself is worth a visit with much to see inside, and with spectacular views out to sea and inland towards the Cheviot Hills.

Wallington HallWallington Hall

I was particularly impressed with Wallington Hall, which was well worth the forty mile drive. Wallington is a magnificent stately home, with extensive woodland walks and gardens. There was easily enough to see to spend the day there.

We also visited the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, but we didn’t go in to the Castle due to the steep walk up to it and the incoming tide. The causeway out to the island is flooded at high tide, so we had to make sure that we weren’t stranded there for six hours or so waiting for the waters to recede. The island would be a good holiday location, if it wasn’t for the lack of access at high tide.

Lindisfarne Castle (1)

Lindisfarne Castle

We also visited several of the coastal towns and villages from Alnmouth up to Berwick-upon-Tweed and even ventured up to Edinburgh by train on a day on which it poured with rain. Edinburgh was too crowded for our liking and we only stayed a few hours before we returned to Waverley Station and the train back to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

With rain falling on only one day in the week, and sunny weather the rest of our stay, we had an enjoyable, relaxing holiday after enduring the near four-hour car journey. This didn’t put us off, however, and I am already looking forward to a return visit next year.

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