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Holiday tips from our friend in the north!

Holiday tips from our friend in the north!

"Who is for a holiday between the Tyne and the Tweed? I am for one…” So begins Walter White’s fascinating Northumberland and the Border, published in 1859. Sigma author Mark Lejk, who would love to have met this Victorian enthusiast and accompanied him on his journey, starts a new series of guest blogs by asking whether Northumberland is still a good place for a holiday - and decides that the answer is, undoubtedly, yes!

Well I would say that, wouldn’t I? Having written two walking books about the county, I’m besotted with the place. Instead of driving through it on your way to or from Scotland, as many do, take some time to visit. You won’t regret it!

In this first blog, I shall write about the Northumberland coast. The area between the Coquet Estuary and Berwick-upon-Tweed is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You can walk its full 64-mile length along the Northumberland Coast Path while, for cyclists, the Coast and Castles Route (NCN Route 1) links Newcastle and Edinburgh, with 85 miles following the Northumberland coastline. Along the way you’ll pass stretching, sandy beaches, quiet coves, ancient castles, pleasant villages and friendly people.

The beaches are surprisingly quiet. Druridge, Embleton and Beadnell Bays have miles (yes, miles!) of unbroken sand, while my favourite is the wonderfully named Sugar Sands, something of a local secret and the perfect spot for a family picnic.   Along this spectacular coastline are some equally eye-catching castles, Dunstanburgh, Bamburgh and Holy Island acting as historic beacons and all of them open to the public.

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is the jewel in the crown. Connected to the mainland by a causeway which floods at high tide, it was the cradle of Christianity in Anglo-Saxon times and has a fascinating history. The beautiful priory and the quirky castle are the main attractions but there is a lot more, such as the fine beaches on the island’s quiet north side, where grey seals can often be found basking on the rocks.

 Take a boat trip from Seahouses to the Farne Islands, where you’ll find all sorts of seabirds including puffins, guillemots, shags and eider ducks, as well as a large colony of grey seals. You can also find out about Grace Darling, the Victorian daughter of the lighthouse keeper who was involved in a dramatic shipwreck rescue and became a heroine overnight. An interesting museum dedicated to her life can be visited in Bamburgh village.

As for the weather – yes, it can be a few degrees cooler than the south of the country! But this can often be a relief in the summer, especially for walkers, and the coast is also one of the driest parts of the UK. In fact, it’s often remarkably sunny and clear, even in the winter – just take a look at the photo of Dunstanburgh Castle on the front cover of my first book, which was taken on a January day!

So have I convinced you? Please come and visit; you’ll be very welcome!

Retired University lecturer Mark is the author of Discover Northumberland: Volume 1 and Volume 2, and is currently working on Volume 3. He moved to Whitley Bay 35 years ago and thinks of the north east as his spiritual home. 

Created On  3 Aug 2017 15:56  -  Permalink


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