Spittal, Cocklawburn and Cheswick
These three beaches just south of Berwick are connected by a top notch cycle path, so it’s easy to visit all three in a day. Spittal’s long promenade is very popular. There’s a kids play park, a swimming pool, an ice cream shop, an arcade, and a big patch of grass for ball games. With plenty of good rock pools to explore on the beach.
Following the cycle path over the cliffs leads you to Cocklawburn – an idyllic spot. The beach is a varied landscape with amazing rock formations and pools – lots of fossils, shells and stones. Children love this beach because the sand is just the right dampness for building sand castles.
Continuing either along the beach or the cycle path, you’ll reach Cheswick. The sand here is incredibly white and there’s rarely anyone around, most people having stopped at Spittal or Cocklawburn. Even at high tide there’s always a big stretch of sand and if you want a game of rounders or beach volleyball, this is the place to go. However there really is nothing nearby – so take your own picnic.
Don’t miss: At the far end of the beach at Spittal (nearest Cocklawburn) the caves have bright orange water spilling out of them and over the rocks nearby. This striking effect is caused by iron in the rock.
Where to eat: There’s often an ice cream van at Cocklawburn so remember to take some cash. If you’re looking for something more filling after a day on the sand, a short drive will take you back to Berwick where you can enjoy tasty dishes made with local ingredients at the historic Queen’s Head Hotel. Queen’s Head Hotel, 6 Sandgate, Berwick-upon-Tweed 01289 307852 www.queensheadberwick.co.uk
Bamburgh and Budle Bay
Bamburgh is dominated by its spectacular castle, which looms over the village and the beach from its position on a huge volcanic outcrop. The castle is certainly worth a visit – it’s not hard to imagine the Kings of Northumbria defending their fortress as you explore – but on a sunny day, it’s good enough to enjoy the castle from the outside, as a magnificent backdrop to a day on the beach. The stretch of sand north of the castle is the perfect place for playing games and plodging in the sea. For a more sedate (but no less spectacular) day out head further up the coast and you reach Budle Bay, which is part of Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. It’s a fantastic place for bird watching, and the beautiful bay is worth seeking out.
Don’t miss: The Grace Darling Museum tells the story of Victorian Britain’s greatest heroine, from her upbringing and life in the lighthouse to her brave actions at the wreck of the SS Forfarshire. The Grace Darling Museum, Radcliffe Road, Bamburgh 01668 214 910 www.rnli.org
Where to eat: A charming inn with a sheltered beer garden that has spectacular views of Bamburgh’s dramatic fortress. The restaurant offers classic dishes with contemporary flair. The Lord Crewe Arms, Front Street, Bamburgh 01668 214243 www.lordcrewe.co.uk
Head south along the cliff tops from the harbour village of Craster to the secluded bay of Howick Haven past the 19th century bathing house built for the second Earl Grey (the one who was responsible for passing the Great Reform Bill). The beach has some unusual rock formations with plenty of shells, stones and pools to explore. Climb on the cliffs for an uninterrupted view of the sea, scramble over the rocks to the skeletal ruin of an old boat and watch the surfers trying to catch the waves. The beach tends to be quiet with the exception of these rubber-clad enthusiasts waiting for the surf to come up.
Don’t miss: There’s a beautiful (three-mile) walk between Craster and Low Newton which takes in the broad curve of Embleton Bay, as well as some of the dunes and surrounding farmland. www.northumberland.gov.uk
Where to eat: In Craster itself you’ll find the Jolly Fisherman, stunning sea views and delicious homecooking (including their famous crab soup). The Jolly Fisherman, Craster 01665 576461 www.thejollyfishermancraster.co.uk
The Tyne’s Beaches
On both sides of the mouth of the Tyne there are fantastic beaches. To the north is Tynemouth, where you’ll find three beaches: Priors Haven, King Edward’s Bay and the famous Longsands. Longsands is a popular place for families and one of the region’s most celebrated beaches (no dogs between May and September). To the south of the river, Littlehaven Beach is sheltered by the South Pier and is a great place for water sports or watching ships sail up the Tyne. On the other side of the pier is Sandhaven Beach, a vast stretch of golden sands. Further south again is Marsden Bay, where the dramatic limestone stack of Marsden Rock were formed almost 250 million years ago.
Don’t miss: At Ocean Beach Pleasure Park on South Shields seafront there are more than 40 rides and attractions from death-defying high G-force rides to twirly tea cups. Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, Sea Road, South Shields 0191 456 1617 www.oceanbeach.co.uk
Where to eat: For a Great British fish and chip fix head to Colmans on South Shields’ Ocean Road, which has been voted the best traditional chippy in Britain. Colmans, 176-186 Ocean Road, South Shields
0191 456 1202 www.colmansfishandchips.com
This small coastal town was predominantly built upon the coal mining industry and is home to both Seaham Beach and Seaham Harbour, County Durham’s only marina. The town has stunning cliff top views and boasts a selection of independent cafés, restaurants and shops. If you love to explore go off the beaten track and head south to find the secluded Blast Beach. It’s a bit of a hike but the views make it worthwhile. If the tide is out, head north to see the secluded caves.
Don’t miss: Roy Lonsdale’s steel sculpture 1101. The sculpture was designed to symbolise the first minute of peace after World War 1 and will remain on the seafront throughout the summer (and for longer if bids to keep the 9.5ft sculpture are successful).
Where to eat? A visit to Seaham wouldn’t be complete without a trip the American-style Lickety Split Creamery, where you can choose from a generous selection of sundaes, milkshakes and traditional diner food. Lickety Split Creamery, 13 North Terrace, Seaham 0191 581 0719 www.lickety-split.co.uk
The village was at one point one of the biggest fishing ports in England and everything from sail-making to fishing, boat building and even smuggling took place. Today a few (albeit smaller) boats still operate from the harbour but are mostly used by local fishermen for tending to lobster pots. Staithes is the most northerly point of the ‘Dinosaur Coast’, (sometimes referred to as the Fossil or Jurassic Coast) which stretches roughly 50 miles south as far as Flamborough. The area was given its name because of the abundance of fossils — some of which are 120 million years old. If you love walking, Staithes has an abundance of meandering coastal pathways, one of which leads to Boulby Cliffs – some of the highest on the East coast.
Don’t miss: The headland of Cowbar Nab, with its small collection of cottages, is worth a visit as it provides the location for possibly the most impressive view of Staithes. The arty type? Then pop into the nationally renowned Staithes Art School.
Where to eat: Endeavour Restaurant takes full advantage of its location. Try local favourites such as Bouillabaisse – the classic Provençale fish soup and the Assiette, which includes Staithes’ smoked mackerel pâté, Staithes’ smoked trout and ceviche of salmon. Endeavour Restaurant, Staithes
01947 841029 www.endeavour-restaurant.co.uk