In the centre
Eat: The only way the seafood round here could be fresher is if you stuck your head into the North Sea and made like an angler fish. The homely, chilled-out Beaches Restaurant will be back at the start of March after its winter hiatus.
Drink: The Red Lion, opposite the church, is a proper real ale pub with views over the estuary from its decking area.
See: The beach is an obvious pick, yes, but just look at it. Look at its sandy majesty. Glory in its long, golden plains. Weep at its sweeping loveliness. Truly, this is a king among beaches.
Do: There’s only one thing better than wandering across the beach, and that’s galloping across that beach on a horse – Townfoot Stables near Shilbottle will sort you out there. Have a round at Alnmouth Village Golf Club, the oldest nine-hole links course in England, too.
5 miles away
Eat: Robson’s kippers are an afternoon’s ramble away at Craster, plus there’s further fish-wizardry at Jonny Bird’s Sea and Soil in Amble. Fish is kind of important up here.
Drink: The word ‘gentrification’ doesn’t have much currency round here: see Alnwick’s John Bull Inn for a typically cosy example with top local, national and continental beers.
See: It’s castle country up here: Warkworth Castle dominates the scenery for miles around, and Alnwick’s isn’t half bad either. Those of a less elevated disposition could go to Shilbottle to see what vandals insist on changing its name to on street signs.
Do: Obviously Alnwick’s Barter Books is brilliant, but for something a little less touristy wander through the 3,000 acres of Hulne Park, still used for hunting by the Duke of Northumberland. You’d best pack a tin helmet.
10 miles away
Eat: The Running Fox at Felton is rightly proud of its superlative afternoon teas, and they’ve added another café and bakery in Longframlington too.
Drink: The Ship Inn at Low Newton-by-the-Sea has sea views which have been known to make newcomers’ jaws drop. Have a pint from their on-site brewery to numb the pain when it happens to you.
See: The Tyne hogs all the glory, but the River Coquet is an intensely gorgeous counter to the wild grandeur of much of the rest of Northumberland: it’s more quaintly bucolic than much of the region, with tree-crowded banks and a meandering, unhurried mien.
Do: As you follow the Coquet, see the 12th century Brinkburn Priory, which will be back open in April, to take in its stained glass windows and potter around the grounds in the spring sunshine.
30 miles away
Eat: Tillmouth Park, a Victorian Gothic country house hotel near Cornhill-on-Tweed, does a very neat line in wood-panelled elegance and emphasises local game and lamb in its British classics.
Drink: Go to Berwick for a few pints at The Curfew, England’s most northerly micropub.
See: Thirty miles as the crow flies will land you in the middle of Northumberland National Park. Get your boots on and wander through the Coquet Valley near Barrow Burn and Shillmoor, enclosed by handsome heathered hills.
Do: Chillingham Castle is purportedly one of the most haunted places in Northumberland – strap on a wibbly-woo detector and check it out for yourself.