Northumbrian Coast Path – 2 Bamburgh and Seahouses

There is a bus service between Berwick and Lindisfarne: No 477. It runs at different times on different days, to suit causeway open times. Rather than walk back along the road, we caught this bus then changed buses when it reached the A1 and took the X15 bus south to Belford. The Official Coast Path route takes a diversion inland between Lindisfarne and Bamburgh and we chose to take our own way by walking from Belford along an on-road cycle route toward Waren Mill and Budle Bay. Near to Waren Mill we continued on the road and over the bridge crossing Waren Burn. Budle Bay, an enormous sandy estuary and bay by Waren Mill, was packed with seabirds. In the bright sunlight it looked wonderfully natural and pristine, but our pictures really do not do it justice.

Budle Bay with Lindisfarne in the distance

Budle Bay with Lindisfarne in the distance

After Waren Mill the road climbs to the hamlet of Budle where we left the road to join a coast path going over Budle Point and eventually joined the official Coast path again. The day continued to be sunny and we stopped for lunch with views over Budle Bay towards Lindisfarne. From there it was a fairly short walk through dunes and a golf course and into Bamburgh. Bamburgh Castle is immense. It is visible from some distance away on the coast path.IMG_20150916_143429846

As soon as we arrived in the town we checked in at our hotel, dumped our rucksacks and set off to visit the castle. It was well worth it. Like Lindisfarne it appears to grow out of the rock.IMG_20150916_164816628

Inside, it is sumptuous, the highpoint for me being the King’s Hall built on the site of a medieval hall. It was rebuilt in Victorian times, its magnificent ceilingIMG_20150916_154712167 being constructed in teak from Thailand, then called Siam. It is reported that the King of Siam helped with carving some of the ceiling during a visit. (You can gain a much better impression of the hall by clicking on the red dot showing King’s Hall then on “The King’s Hall – show me this room” on this website

Outside there are equally impressive sights.Inside the walls at Bamburgh

The history of the castle goes back to AD547, the first written record, but there were almost certainly buildings and defences here before then. It was bought in 1894 by the industrialist Lord Armstrong for £60,000 from a distant relative of his after reading an advert in The Times. It is still owned by the Armstrong family though I was told by one of the guides at the castle that, currently, it is home to 14 families.

We stayed at the Victoria Hotel. We had a pokey room that seemed to be in an attic, well out of wifi range, but otherwise it was fine. The hotel had a coach party that night so we were advised to eat early or late. We needed no encouragement to eat early and had a lovely shared starter of olives, various breads and olive oil dip followed by a steak and washed down with some Alnwick IPA and some Black Sheep.

Next day breakfast was also good, stuffed again, and we just managed to finish eating before the coach party descended and filled the restaurant again. Before we left Bamburgh we left our rucksacks in the hotel and took a walk round. We visited the church and Grace Darling’s tomb, Grace Darling's tomb, Bamburgh Churchan atmospheric local shop cum garden centre, and the mobile post office. Then we set off for Seahouses. This is really just a stroll from Bamburgh but we wanted to take a boat trip that afternoon round the Farne Islands. Once again we ignored the official Coast Path and chose our own route along the magnificent beach. The view back to the castle was worth a pictureIMG_20150917_104744580

This was a first rate vast beach backed by dunes. We shared it with several other walkers with and without dogs. One pair of greyhounds were everywhere, harassing seagulls in the retreating tide along the whole length of the beach approx 5km.

Seahouses appears to be a typical seaside resort with plenty of fish and chip shops to choose from. We booked on a “round the islands” trip with the boat owned by our B&B owner then set off to North Sunderland, just outside Seahouses, to drop our rucksacks off and prepare for our boat trip. Our B&B was at The Old School House; very clean, comfortable, reasonable, welcoming, and highly recommended.

The boat trip was excellent.

Our boat returning to its mooring in Seahouses harbour

Our boat returning to its mooring in Seahouses harbour

We went round all the Farne Islands and saw hundreds of seals, eider ducks, shags, gannets and best of all a pod of dolphins. Garce Darling’s lighthouse appeared to be a long way from shore,Darlings' Lighthouse on Outer Farne I could not imagine rowing out there with the weeks’ shopping! We also passed the other island where Grace Darling’s grandparents lived. What a lonely and challenging existence it must have been.

The day had started sunny but slowly clouded over and while we had had a dry boat trip, when we landed it started raining, so we sheltered in the Olde Ship Inn and sampled some Farne Island beer. This pub is full of character and characters, including a couple sat at the bar who, mid-drink, appeared to decide to “visit their room!” and returned 15 minutes later to finish their drinks. Maybe no Hanky Panky was involved, but I would not want to bet on it. Neither, given all the people in the bar – and it was very busy – would I have guessed they would be the ones. But there is nowt queerer than folk. While drafting this it has just occured to me that perhaps some sort of business transaction was involved. You never know. The bar is crammed with brass and other maritime memorabilia, a truly lovely old pub. Pub at Seahouses 1That evening we ate in Lewis’s Fish and Chip shop, as good a plate of fish and chips as I have had anywhere.



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