Having visited all the Farne Islands it was possible to visit it was time to continue actually walking the coast. The boats to the Farne Islands depart from Seahouses and the next town along the coast north from there is Bamburgh and I’ve commented (and photographed) the views of the wonderful castle at Bamburgh from these boats several times before.
However I also wanted to visit the castle and see it at closer quarters, so that is what I did, first visiting the castle and then walking south along the coast to Seahouses. I actually continued on to Beadnell (so walking that part of the coast twice), but I’ve already written up that part.
I was doing this walk as a day trip from home. A few months earlier I had booked train tickets from London to Berwick-upon-Tweed and returning the same day, at a cost of £39 in total which wasn’t too bad a price. I always enjoy this journey, at least once north of York (south of there, the countryside is less interesting), where I enjoyed views of Durham Cathedral and castle
Then the Angel of the North
The River Tyne and Tyne bridges and then the coastal village of Alnmouth.
Finally there were views to distant Lindisfarne and then crossing the Tweed itself as the train reached Berwick-upon-Tweed (the most northerly town in England).
At Berwick-upon-Tweed I had about 20 minutes to wait for a bus to Bamburgh. Rather than just hang about at the rail station I noticed that there was a path just to the right headed down steps into pleasant gardens and down to the river Tweed, a short distance beyond. Here I could admire the magnificent Royal Border Bridge that carries the railway line over the river Tweed which I had travelled across a few minutes before.
Despite the name it has never actually been the border between England and Scotland.
I soon headed back up the daffodil-lined path through the park to the station where I had a short wait for the bus. This crossed the Tweed again on the more modern road bridge, which runs alongside the older road bridge (which is still in use, but carries only a single lane of traffic so is insufficient for modern traffic). The top deck of the bus also gave me another good view of the Royal Border Bridge.
As the bus continued south I could soon see view of Holy Island (or Lindisfarne) in the distance and then the bay at Budle Bay and then onwards to Bamburgh just a short distance further along the coast.
The village of Bamburgh is small and quite pretty but really the view is dominated by the huge castle that towers over the village and is built into the rocks.
I followed the pavement ahead through the village to approach the castle. However the entrance is actually around the other side, so I followed the path below the castle walls.
The castle has a long history and deteriorated during the 17th Century. Some restoration was carried out in the 18th and 19th Century and the castle was then bought by William Armstrong during the Victorian period who completed the restoration. The castle is still owned by the Armstrong family today.
The approach to the castle is through the impressive gate house.
Looking down over the coast there were extensive sand dunes and the beach beyond. Indeed from the coast it looks as if the castle is actually built into the dunes but it’s actually on a rocky outcrop just behind them.
I was pleased to find that you can walk along the top of the wall for much of the length, just as soldiers would have done when the castle was used for defensive purposes. The views too are wonderful with the beautiful sandy beaches that surround the castle, and the Farne Islands out to sea.
The keep is fully intact and glazed and the interior of the castle is more of a stately home than functioning defensive castle now. The interior contained a few unexpected artefacts too, a Water Accumulator (used to increase the water pressure) and various engines from aeroplanes that had been recovered from crashes in the area. It was not quite what I had expected to find!
Of course the castle towers over the village and this means that from the top of the castle views you also have fine views over the village and the countryside beyond.
The castle walls still had numerous cannons in place and also a large bell. The sign informed me that the latter had been removed from the top of the tower at the request of the Fourth Lady Armstrong who found it it’s “constant chiming” an irritation (as did many in the village, too).
Having explored the walls and the castle keep it was time to head inside to the house built within the castle walls, which I think dates from various periods having looking at the differing colours of the stone walls! I suspect the chapel part is the oldest.
Inside was a lovely wooden model of the castle and a lovely old map of the county of Northumberland when of course Newcastle was the county town and the administrative area of Tyne and Wear didn’t exist, so Northumberland bordered County Durham. The real show piece of the interior however must the be the glorious hall with it’s beautiful wooden ceiling.
Portraits of the family were on the walls and the castle had a real lived in feel, as the family still live here so it was nice to see it was still in use rather than just preserved.
Having explored the state rooms I also had a quick look in the now empty stable block and then I’d finished my visit to the castle. The castle is such an impressive and famous sight on the coast I couldn’t pass it by without visiting and was very glad I had made the time to do so.
Having enjoyed my visit to the castle, it was now time to begin my (short) coastal walk. From the north facing wall of the castle i followed a path down through the dunes to the lovely sandy beach beyond.
For some reason the official Northumberland Coast Path follows the road past the castle before disappearing a half mile or so inland across fields. Why it does this I don’t know (it’s not really a coastal path here). The map showed the mostly sandy beaches along this part of the coast have lots of sand at low tide meaning it is easy to walk along the beach and if that proves difficult the B1340 runs right along the back of the beaches. This is not a particularly busy road because it only really serves the villages along the coast, most of the through traffic will use the more direct A1 which runs close by, so that is what I chose to do.
I had no problems following the beach initially because there was plenty of firm sand to walk on. The weather too was improving, with some blue sky appearing and the sun soon breaking through.
Heading down to the shore line I could really enjoy the dramatic setting of the castle from the beach. It must have been an imposing and frightening site for any would-be invaders!
I soon rounded the corner into the next little bay, which offers fine views to the Farne Islands the nearest of which are about 1.5 miles off-shore.
The beach, which had not exactly been crowded soon became largely empty as I headed away from the car parks at Bamburgh.
Ahead the dunes became almost cliffs, I don’t think I’d seen dunes as high as this for a long time (perhaps not since Saunton Sands back in Devon).
As you can see the sand soon ended here and I considered trying to climb into the dunes, but it would be hard work climbing up a steep slope made of lose sand! Instead I found the rocks at the end had largely formed flat rocky shelves which were quite easy to walk along with the tide being out. Soon there was sand again and I could return to the beach.
The rocks ended soon too so it was back to a glorious sandy beach, backed by dunes, as I was approaching Seahouses ahead. I had to cross the Clashope Burn on the way but it was easy enough just to step over on the beach.
Here once again the sand ended with rocks ahead. Here though there was no easy route over the rocks ahead, as the waves were almost reaching the cliffs so I headed up to the cliff tops where there was a path through the dunes, which soon became a tarmac path I could follow all the way into Seahouses and the harbour (which, confusingly, is called North Sunderland harbour).
The low cliffs offered me a view back to Bamburgh Castle where I had started my short walk, poking up above the dunes.
I didn’t actually finish my walk at the harbour. I had plenty of time before the bus I needed to catch home. It came up from Newcastle so I could continue south along the coast until the bus was due and get on it at more or less any point. As it was a nice afternoon and this is such a lovely stretch of coast I actually continued as far as Beadnell. I’ve walked (and written up) that part before so I won’t do it again but it was indeed a lovely walk again which I’ll just illustrate with a few of the photos I took!
At Beadnell I took the bus back to Berwick-upon-Tweed enjoying the views from the top-deck as it made it’s way north along this highly picturesque part of the coast and to the lovely walled town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
I opted to get off the bus in the town centre so I could grab a bit of food and then walk on to the station to catch my train home.
I enjoyed the views of Alnmouth from the window of the train in the low sunshine as we headed south again.
Overall it had been a really lovely day. I had enjoyed my visit to Bamburgh Castle very much as well as the short and very relaxed walk along the lovely sandy beaches of this part of Northumberland back to Seahouses. This really is a spectacular part of the coast and I didn’t want to rush through it.
Bamburgh castle is open to the public daily from February 9th 2019 to November 3rd 2019 and weekends only for the rest of the year. At the time of writing, adult admission costs £11.25.
Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk, there are two bus routes connecting Bamburgh and Seahouses:-
Arriva bus route X18 : Berwick-upon-Tweed – Scremerston – Haggerston – Beal – Belford – Budle Bay – Bamburgh – North Sunderland – Seahouses – Beadnell – Embleton – Craster – Longhoughton – Boulmer – Alnwick – Alnmouth Station (only some buses) – Alnmouth – Warkworth – Amble – Broomhill – Red Row – Widdrington Station – Pegswood – Morpeth – Regent Centre (Tyne & Wear Metro) – Newcastle (Haymarket Bus Station). Between Bamburgh and Seahouses the bus runs roughly once every 2 hours Monday – Saturday and 3 times on a Sunday. It takes 10 minutes to travel between Bamburgh and Seahouses.
Travelsure service 418 : Belford – Warnemill – Bamburgh – North Sunderland – Seahouses – Beadnell – High Newton – Embleton – Dunstan – Craster – Howick – Longhoughton – Denwick – Alnwick. Some buses continue to Alnmouth Station, Alnmouth village and Alnwick. This bus runs once every 2 hours Monday – Saturday (no service on Sundays) and combined with the X18 above provides a roughly hourly service between Bamburgh and Seahouses Monday – Saturday.
Here are the complete set of photos for this walk: Main Link.