November 06, 2018
Heading to the beach in Northumberland in late October might not seem the obvious holiday choice, but we recently spent half term in Alnmouth and fell in love with the place.
Northumberland's unspoilt quiet beauty is the UK's biggest secret, and even in summer you can find a spot of tranquility - but in the off-peak season its understated beauty comes alive.
We stayed at Fossil Bank cottage, tucked away on Alnmouth's main Northumberland Street behind a big set of gates, but a stone's throw from the beach and the pub.
The two-bedroom cottage comes complete with The White Company towels and top of the range appliances making it a cosy place to settle in for a night or two, but its outdoor area complete with outdoor fireplace is something we'll definitely be back for in the summer months.
Alnmouth is easily reached because it is a stop in the East Coast main line from London (door to door in around 3 hours), and is just 10 minutes off the A1 heading north to Scotland.
The village as lots of great places to eat, including a wonderful Sunday lunch at the Red Lion right next to our cottage. Beaches seafood shack is a pop-up seafood eatery that serves whatever has been caught in the North Sea that day, it wasn't open when we stayed but is certainly something we'll be heading back for.
If you want to eat in, Scotts of Alnmouth deli has a large bread, cheese and wine selection - all you need for an easy supper. Plus it has a great little cafe that serves Pilgrims coffee (more of that later).
The beach at Alnmouth is long and wide and opens up into a fantastic estuary - perfect for bird watchers, we saw a heron on our morning walk.
Beaches are what Northumberland is known for, so we didn't hesitate to head to Low Newton - the best beach in this part of the world in our opinion. We walked all the way to Embleton Bay, with Dunstanburgh castle on the headland as our guide.
A spot of rain came over so we headed for The Ship Inn and microbrewery but the queues out the door meant yet again we'll have to put that on the next time list, however the Joiner's Arms gastro pub just a mile up the road and its 'whale and chips' giant fish and chips option will fill a hungry family no problems.
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is a place of ancient history, reached by a causeway that is governed by the tides. Despite being almost November we found the car park busy but headed off in search of the ruins, buoyed with a great cup of coffee roasted on the island at Pilgrim's Coffee House.
The walk around the church yard, with gravestones dating back centuries is free, but to access the church ruins or the castle there is an entry fee. It was such a clear sunny day we opted to walk by the shore to spot the migrating geese and look out for Bamburgh castle in the distance.
If you fancy a more rural stay, Chesterhill Old Farm is situated 7 miles south of Alnwick and offers two recently restored luxury barn conversions surrounded by fields with fantastic views.
Alnwick itself is a great place to visit for the day, while away a couple of hours at Barter Books in the old railway station, complete with waiting room cafe. A stroll around the town centre is great for local shops, then Alnwick Castle (famous for its Harry Potter scenes) and the stunning Alnwick Gardens is well worth a visit - especially The Treehouse restaurant for dinner in a fairytale setting.
Northumberland is understated and authentic, with a great food scene and amazing coastline - all a quick hop from the platform on the most scenic train journey in Britain.
Check it out at Visit Northumberland website.
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