Northumberland after lockdown

Why, aye man – well, we made it! A breakaway after lock down.

Bamburgh CastleThe groundhog day was finally over as we ventured out to the north east of England to have a holiday – wow that is a lovely word. Unsure of whether to stay or go was our big decision. We are senior Silver Travellers and decided to take the risk and booked a cottage in Northumberland.

The land of the Romans and Vikings always fills me with wonder, the Romans came to rule and the Vikings to plunder and both put their stamp on the area. It’s wide open spaces, long unspoilt beaches, unclogged roads and the Northumberland welcome was our way of escaping the claustrophobic feeling of lockdown.

It didn’t take us long to feel free again as we drove under the Tyne Tunnel and came out to long open roads taking us north. You don’t go north for the weather, so our car and cases were packed with sun hat and wellingtons, raincoat and sundress, the climate is unpredictable but, as they say, there is no such thing as bad weather only the wrong clothes, so be prepared.

Swallow Lodge where we stayedBooking a British holiday at the moment is far from easy. Hotels are really going the extra mile to help with lessening your fear of catching Covid-19 with a very stringent cleaning programme but if you have a caravan or a mobile home, wish to socially isolate yourself and do self-catering, it is still difficult to get on sites as they are getting booked up very quickly. We decided on a cottage near Amble in Northumberland and self-catering enabled us to do the self-isolation comfortably.

Northumberland has a wealth of interesting and outstanding areas of beauty. From the endless beaches to the castles that litter the coast to the historical towns of Amble, Alnwick and Morpeth, all of which have the legacy of fishermen, miners and boat builders. Visit Craster, a lovely fishing village that is famous for its kippers which have been smoked here since 1890 by the same family at Robson’s Smokehouse. The picturesque harbour is overlooked by holiday cottages and the Jolly Fisherman restaurant which serves delicious seafood. Take a walk along the coastal path to Dunstanburgh Castle ruins which is a 2-mile round trip from Craster on a well-worn path and enjoy the expanse of sea and sky in this lovely part of the world.

Glynis at Craster HarbourWalking is a favourite pastime for many visitors to the area and the Northumberland coastal path is famous as many walkers set themselves a challenge to do the coastal path walk. Our nearest walk from our rented cottage was Druridge Bay which is a 7-mile beach, so socially distancing wasn’t a problem! And after 3 months of lockdown having the wind blowing through your hair (not if like my husband you are follicly challenged!!) it certainly feels good to walk without restriction.

Fish and chips never tasted so good as the ones from the harbour fish and chip shop in Amble. There is always a long queue but it is certainly worth the wait. Eat out (remember the seabirds) or take back to your cottage to enjoy. We did visit a few local hostelries that served food and you have to book a table and social distancing plus cleanliness is well observed. Amble has the Boat House restaurant, and the Fish Shack both of which are recommended but Amble does boast other eating out restaurants.    

Warkworth is another interesting place to visit. Its historic castle and church are central to the village and within easy walking distance of the River Coquet. This charming village is lovely on a summers evening to walk by the river watching the salmon jumping up stream. If  food is on your mind then look no further than the Mason Arms, you can not book this restaurant so go early if you want to get a table.

Grey seals at the Farne IslandsA twitcher’s paradise can be found on the Farne Islands. We sailed from Seahouses to the Farne Islands which has been an ambition of my husbands for a long time. The journey across to the island on one of Billy Shiels’ boats cost £20 per person. On a fairly calm day it takes approximately 15 minutes to get to the islands and once there, we weren’t disappointed. Puffins, I have never seen so many puffins all at once. Arctic terns, razorbills, guillemots, gannets and of course grey seals all putting on a show for the visitors. It did rain on this trip so take water proofs. The boat does have socially distancing and is very well-organised by this company.

My holiday fix has been satisfied for a little while, but in these, uncertain times we have to make the most of our beautiful country, no matter what the weather. Learning to relax and not think about lying on a sunbed in Greece will have to wait for this year. But if all else fails another trip to the beautiful coast of Northumberland would be most welcome.


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Glynis Sullivan

Traveller and writer for Silver Travel Advisor

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