A Travellerspoint blog

January 2021

UK Road Trip 2020 - South to North and Back (Northumberland)

Route: Seahouses (Northumberland Coast) - Hove

overcast 15 °C

NOVEMBER 2020

Back in England, we were now on the last leg of our UK Road Trip. The plan was to stop at two locations on our way back to the south coast and then spend the period before Xmas in Devon. That plan soon turned into disarray when the government announced a 2nd National Lockdown to tackle the increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. This announcement came soon after our arrival in Northumberland and meant we would have to return to the sanctuary of Rob’s place in Hove at the end of our week’s stay.
The announcement was a blow but it wasn’t going to affect our enjoyment of the Northumberland coast. We had rented a cottage in the small fishing village of Seahouses and were surrounded by beautiful coastal scenery. In the high season, Seahouses is a buzzing northern coastal resort, but this time of year it is much quieter. This enabled us to fully enjoy the small harbour and cluster of local shops that surrounded us.

The weather during our stay wasn’t bad for November in the north of England, which meant we could get out each day of our stay. In addition to exploring Seahouses itself we took walks along the coast both north and south of our base.

Our first excursion was very local as we took a stroll along the sandy beach that connects Seahouses to the village of Beadnell a few miles to the south. It was windy when we started the walk which turned to gale force by the end. The wind was coming of the land which created the strange phenomenon of the wave spray being blown back out to sea. Even with the bracing conditions the walk was very pleasant and we felt refreshed, if a bit sandblasted, by the time we got back to the cottage.

Windy walk on Seahouses beach

Windy walk on Seahouses beach

Gale force winds playing with the waves

Gale force winds playing with the waves

Sanderlings

Sanderlings

Common Redshank

Common Redshank

Turnstone so called because it uses it bill to flip over stone to find its prey

Turnstone so called because it uses it bill to flip over stone to find its prey

The following day the wind had dropped making it more pleasant for coastal walking. This time it was a circular walk along the cliffs and across farmland. We started in the pretty fishing village of Craster and past by Dunstanburgh Castle (see below) on our way. We also took the opportunity to pick up some local produce from the Craster Seafood shop.

Craster Harbour and the Unnamed Soldier monument

Craster Harbour and the Unnamed Soldier monument

Craster Harbour

Craster Harbour

Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle

Just north of Seahouses is the small town of Bamburgh with it’s impressive castle. The castle is perched on a hill, looking out to sea on the east side and to Bamburgh town on the west. We had been told that the inside was even more impressive than the outside but Covid-19 restrictions prevented us finding out on this occasion. We instead took a walk around its perimeter and adjacent town. It was during that walk that we stumbled across a plaque celebrating the heroine Grace Darling. Her story struck a cord with us and it is told in the following Wikipedia link:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Darling

Bamburgh Castle view from the car park

Bamburgh Castle view from the car park

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle view from the beach

Bamburgh Castle view from the beach

A bit further north of Bamburgh is Budle Bay and the location for our next walk. We parked near Bamburgh golf course and walked along the cliffs towards Budle Bay. A great expanse of beach spread out beneath us and the Farne Islands were very visible out at sea. After descending the cliffs our walk took us into the Waren Burn estuary where a large variety of water birds call home. After watching the birds for a while we turned back towards Bamburgh, along the beach this time with the cliffs towering above us.

Budle Bay beach

Budle Bay beach

Budle Bay Beach

Budle Bay Beach

Little Egret

Little Egret

Oyster Catcher and Black Headed Gull in winter plumage

Oyster Catcher and Black Headed Gull in winter plumage

Brent Goose

Brent Goose

Herring Gull

Herring Gull

Mallard Duck

Mallard Duck

Oyster Catcher

Oyster Catcher

Curlew

Curlew

Lindisfarne Castle from Budle bay

Lindisfarne Castle from Budle bay

Farne Islands

Farne Islands

For our last day in the area we had a bit of an adventure. We visited the Holy Island of Lindisfarne (see below). Connected to the mainland by a tidal causeway the adventure was to drive across to the island. From Seahouses we followed the coastal road north until we arrived at a sign displaying tide times and safety warnings. Before leaving home we checked the safe crossing times and were able to continue our journey without the fear of an advancing tide. Either side of us was the sea water left by the retreating tide, ahead of us loomed Holy Island and behind us the dry land of the Northumberland coast. A unique and enjoyable little adventure.

On our way to Lindisfarne

On our way to Lindisfarne

Crossing to Lindisfarne at low tide

Crossing to Lindisfarne at low tide

Markers for foot crossing at low tide to Lindisfarne

Markers for foot crossing at low tide to Lindisfarne

We had limited time on the island due to the safe crossings for the causeway. But as the island isn’t very big we didn’t feel rushed in our exploration. We parked on the edge of the only town on the island and started our walk. Our route took us into town, past attractive traditional building and to the priory on the far side.

Priory, Lindisfarne

Priory, Lindisfarne

After a brief look round the priory we past by the harbour and continued on to Lindisfarne castle. From the castle our path took us along the edge of the beach, past a nature reserve (not many resident birds this time of year) and eventually looped back to the car park we had started from. A varied and enjoyable walk undertaken on a cool but sunny autumn day.

Lindisfarne view of its castle from the harbour

Lindisfarne view of its castle from the harbour

Fishermen Cabins

Fishermen Cabins

Lindisfarne Castle

Lindisfarne Castle

View toward the mainland from the Causeway

View toward the mainland from the Causeway

We then safely negotiated the causeway once more and retraced our route back to Seahouses.

By now the country was back in a national lockdown and we had to go home and stay put for a month, just like the rest of the UK population. Not having a home to go back to we had to rely on the generosity of Rob once again. The other issue was that we were in the far north of the country and Rob is in the far south. We therefore reluctantly left our cosy cottage in Seahouses and drove 400 miles (640km) south the following day. Fortunately the journey wasn’t as bad as we had feared. With most people travelling the day before, the roads were quiet, it only took us six and a half hours including stops.

We had planned to spend the Xmas period with Rob, so our stay in Hove extended all the way to the new year. It also signalled the end of our travels for 2020. Not a good year for anyone, but ours had been better than many.

Any hope of resuming out travels at the start of 2021 were dashed by a Covid induced third National Lockdown. A new, more contagious variant of the Coronavirus, was now at large amongst the British population and only a full lockdown could get it under control. At the time of writing we didn’t expect to be going anywhere until probably March at the earliest. However, the role out of Covid-19 vaccines does provide us with optimism for the rest of the year.

Personal Observations & Interesting Facts

Dunstanburgh Castle
The castle was built by Earl Thomas of Lancaster between 1313 and 1322, taking advantage of the site's natural defences and the existing earthworks of an Iron Age fort.
Thomas was a leader of a baronial faction opposed to King Edward II, and probably intended Dunstanburgh to act as a secure refuge, should the political situation in southern England deteriorate. The castle also served as a statement of the earl's wealth and influence, and would have invited comparisons with the neighbouring royal castle of Bamburgh.
Legend has it that he saw himself as a modern day King Arthur. However, even his loyalist followers said he could only ever be 50% of the great man. So not wanting to be a ”halfur Arthur” he abandoned this dream.
Thomas probably only visited his new castle once, before being captured at the Battle of Boroughbridge as he attempted to flee royal forces for the safety of Dunstanburgh.
Thomas was executed, and the castle became the property of the Crown before passing into the Duchy of Lancaster.
Dunstanburgh's defences were expanded in the 1380s by John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, in the light of the threat from Scotland and the peasant uprisings of 1381.
The castle was maintained in the 15th century by the Crown, and formed a strategic northern stronghold in the region during the Wars of the Roses, changing hands between the rival Lancastrian and Yorkist factions several times. The fortress never recovered from the sieges of these campaigns and passed into decay.
As the Scottish border became more stable, the military utility of the castle steadily diminished, and King James I finally sold the property off into private ownership in 1604.
It became increasingly ruinous during the following centuries and was placed into the guardianship of the state in 1930. When the Second World War broke out in 1939, measures were taken to defend the Northumberland coastline from a potential German invasion. The castle was used as an observation post and the site was refortified with trenches, barbed wire, pill boxes and a mine field. Today the the castle is owned by the National Trust and run by English Heritage.

Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle
The site of today’s castle was originally the location of a Celtic Brittonic fort known as Din Guarie and may have been the capital of the kingdom of Bernicia from its foundation in c. 420 to 547. After passing between the Britons and the Anglo-Saxons three times, the fort came under Anglo-Saxon control in 590. The fort was then destroyed by Vikings in 993, and the Normans later built a new castle on the site, which forms the core of the present one. After a revolt in 1095, supported by the castle's owner, it became the property of the English monarch.
In the 17th century, financial difficulties led to the castle deteriorating, but it was restored by various owners during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was finally bought by the Victorian era industrialist William Armstrong, who completed its restoration. The castle still belongs to the Armstrong family.

Bamburgh Castle view from the town

Bamburgh Castle view from the town

Lindisfarne
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, commonly known as either Holy Island or Lindisfarne, is a tidal island off the northeast coast of England, which constitutes the civil parish of Holy Island in Northumberland. Holy Island has a recorded history from the 6th century AD; it was an important centre of Celtic Christianity under Saints Aidan of Lindisfarne, Cuthbert, Eadfrith and Eadberht. After the Viking invasions and the Norman conquest of England, a priory was reestablished. A small castle was subsequently built on the island in 1550.

Lindisfarne causeway in the background at low tide

Lindisfarne causeway in the background at low tide

The causeway

The causeway

Posted by MAd4travel 13:20 Archived in England Comments (2)

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