The Northumberland Coast contains some varied and attractive beaches, coves and coastal geology. Part of the coast was designated as an AONB in 1958. This covers 40 miles of the Northumbrian coastline between the Coquet Estuary at Warkworth and the Tweed estuary at Berwick upon Tweed. The Northumberland Coast Path, part of the UK Coast Path, covers a 65 mile stretch between Cresswell and Berwick upon Tweed.
Below are some day walks which include one offshore walk which is accessible from Seahouses, and portions of the AONB and the Northumberland Coast Path. I have included maps, although a map isn’t essential for the short walk around Inner Farne. Obviously some of these walks are affected by the tide so it is worth checking tide times before you go to ensure your safety. The walks are arranged by length, beginning with the shortest:
- Farne Islands Cruise from Seahouses with Inner Farne landing. Easy. 0.5 mile / 1 km.
- Cocklawburn Beach Circular. Leisurely. 1.5 miles / 3 km.
- Budle Bay & Bamburgh Circular. Leisurely. 4.5 miles / 7 km.
- Craster, Howick and Dunstanburgh Castle circular walk. Leisurely. 6.5 miles / 10.5 km.
- Craster, Dunstanburgh & Low Newton circular walk. Leisurely. 8 miles / 13 km.
- Druridge Bay; Cresswell to Amble. Easy. 8.6miles / 13.9 km
Maps on this post are courtesy of Viewranger, the National Trust and Ordnance Survey ©. All these routes except Inner Farne are available to download on Viewranger
Around Inner Farne on Farne Island Cruise from Seahouses. Easy. 0.5 miles / 1 km
For this walk around Inner Farne, one of the nearest of the Farne Islands, I took a cruise from Seahouses which took me around Staple Island, Brownsman and Longstone Island before landing on Inner Farne which is owned by the National Trust. These islands were first recorded in 651 when they became home to St. Aidan followed by St. Cuthbert who isolated himself on the islands and died there in 687. St. Cuthbert introduced special laws in 676 protecting the eider ducks, and other seabirds nesting on the islands. These are thought to be the earliest bird protection laws anywhere in the world.
On Inner Farne you follow a walkway from which you can see a range of wildlife, which varies around the year, including puffins, cormorants, shags, arctic terns and some of the 3000+ grey seals which live on the islands. St Cuthbert’s Chapel also on the island was built in 1370-72 at a cost of £50. After the Dissolution it became a lighthouse keeper’s cottage, then fell into ruin, until it was restored in 1850. Inside the furnishings, which date to around 1665, came from Durham Cathedral.
National Trust rangers live on Inner Farne from March to December and there is information available from them and from a range of books and leaflets available on the island. There are several companies at Seahouses which all offer a similar range of cruises to and around the islands, some of which involve diving. There is a charge for the cruise and a further charge by the National Trust if you choose to land on one of the islands. There are plenty of cafes and shops available in Seahouses.
Cocklawburn Beach Circular. Leisurely. Min 1.5m / 3km.
This is a short 1.5 mile walk around Cocklawburn Nature reserve and along Cocklawburn Beach near Scremerston on the outskirts of Berwick upon Tweed. At low tide it would be easy to expand the walk further south along the beach towards Cheswick. Car parking is normally straightforward at the end of the road which is signposted for the beach from Scremerston. There are facilities at Pot a Doodle Doo on the Scremerston road or in nearby Berwick. The figure of 8 route begins with a quick detour to the old lime kiln.
Apologies for the poor quality of this route on Viewranger. I am assured that the issue is resolved now.
After a short walk past a small tarn you fork right uphill through the nature reserve towards the Northumberland Coast Path and Coast and Castles cycle route. You then circle around the remains of the lime quarry until you reach a gap in the sand dunes which takes you through a crevass in the tall dune grasses and down onto the beach.
Here you could extend your walk further south towards Cheswick if the tide is out, before returning back to the tarn along the sandy beach. The path to your starting point returns via the WW2 look out station on the rampart to the side of the track.
Cocklawburn is a popular place for families and dog walkers who park along the narrow road to the nature reserve. Although the beach is a good walk at any time of the year (this trip was in February) the best time to see the wild flowers on the nature reserve stretch is obviously April to September.
Budle Bay and Bamburgh circular walk. Leisurely. 4.5 miles / 7 km
Budle Bay to Bamburgh Castle is a leisurely 4.5 mile circular walk starting at Budle and heading south along a quiet road before turning left to head eastwards along the Northumberland Coast Path past the Shada plantation to reach the road into Bamburgh at Galliheugh Bank. From there you walk towards the village to your right where you skirt around the bowling green below the castle and onto a coastal path.
This path runs north west along the coast past Harkness rocks before turning south at Budle Point past a campsite and along the sands of Budle Bay which is part of Lindisfarne Nature Reserve, popular among bird watchers. At Kiln Point a small road turns inland to return you to your starting point at Budle. There are plenty of cafes and shops available in Bamburgh.
Craster, Howick and Dunstanburgh Castle circular. Leisurely. 6.5 miles / 10.5 km
The Dunstanburgh and Howick route is a 6.5 mile circular walk heading southwards along the cliff path from Craster, along the coast as far as Stone House where you turn inland towards the gates of Howick Hall & gardens, a Grade II listed building which is the ancestral seat of the Earls Grey. You then follow the track to your right which hugs the field margin with trees to your left before heading across fields below Hips Heugh crags to Craster South Farm. Here the route crosses the road and heads across the fields down to a gate slightly to your right into Craster car park.
From there you turn right into Craster village, passing the harbour and kipper smokery before heading northwards along the level, coastal pastures up to the ruins of Dunstanburgh castle. Here you retrace your steps into Craster where you will find cafes and a pub.
Craster, Dunstanburgh Castle & Low Newton circular. Leisurely. 8 miles / 13 km
The Craster and Low Newton circular route is an easy 8 mile leisurely walk beginning at the old fishing village of Craster on the Northumbrian Coast. It starts by heading across country past the remains of Chain Home radar station established during the early years of WW2. These radar stations encircled the British Coast to protect the country from attack by sea and air. Accommodation and service buildings were located on the inland side of the heugh near Craster. Apparently these buildings were later used as accommodation for Italian prisoners of war.
The route continues to the coastal path and around the side of the 14th century remains of Dunstanburgh castle, which was painted by Turner. From the castle the route heads north along the picturesque Embleton beach, with its colony of desirable beach huts, as far as Low Newton by the Sea, a former fishing village now managed by the National Trust. It then circles inland back to Craster via a nature reserve with bird hides. There are cafes and pubs at Craster and a pub at Low Newton.
Druridge Bay; Cresswell to Amble Linear Walk. Easy. 8.6 miles / 13.9 km
Druridge Bay is a popular eight mile long sandy bay which stretches from Cresswell to the south to Amble in the north. Because of the accessibility from the urban centres to the south and west, it is busier than the beaches in the north of the county. It attracts visitors for fishing, family outings, kite surfing, hang-gliding, and hiking on the Northumberland Coast Path which skirts along the bay.
After disembarking from a busy bus at Cresswell on a sunny spring Saturday lunchtime, I headed onto the beach on the path next to the Ice Cream shop. There are rows of anti tank blocks visible here, and at various points along the sandy Northumbrian beaches which line the coast. The eight mile walk up the beach is a leisurely affair which involves occasional wading through shallow inlets and hurdling a couple of waste pipes which unfortunately still interrupt your walk. If the weather is good sandals (without socks) are ideal footwear for this route.
About half way along the Bay you pass the Druridge Bay Country Park Visitor Centre with a car park and visitor centre just inland. Ladyburn Lake is also close by and forms the third shorter walk featured in the Amble Ambles page
To the northern end of the beach you gradually re-enter civilisation through the outskirts of Low Hauxley where the route passes close to the Coast and Castles cycle route if you prefer a smooth path to the ups and downs of the dunes.
Note: I realise that some of these walks appear on my Castle Quests page as I wanted to provide themed sets of walks. I have therefore written about different aspects of the walks and provided more information about the whole walks here. I hope this is helpful.