Coastal Castles and Great Days Out in the North East and Yorkshire
Whether you want spectacular castles, ruins with dramatic views, fascinating galleries or inspiring theatres – the coast has them all in spades
BERWICK BARRACKS AND MAIN GUARD
Built in the early 18th century to the design of architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, Berwick Barracks was among the first in England to be purpose-built. It’s now home to By Beat Of Drum – an insightful permanent exhibition looking at the lives of British infantryman from the Civil War to World War I – as well as The King’s Own Scottish Borderers Museum, and Berwick Museum and Art Gallery.
Parade, Berwick TD15 1DF
Magnificent in scale and standing on a remote headland, building began at Dunstanburgh Castle in 1313 – it was designed as a repelling fortress by Earl Thomas of Lancaster when relations between himself and King Edward II turned hostile. Lancaster was defeated in battle and executed in 1322, and the castle passed to John of Gaunt, who strengthened it against the Scots. The castle, with its great twin-towered keep, was the focus of fierce fighting during the Wars of the Roses, and now provides dramatic views along the coastline from inside the curtain wall.
Craster NE66 3TT
01665 576 231
Each year, Bamburgh Castle captivates many thousands of visitors from across the globe with its incredible history, dramatic views and treasure-trove collection of unique pieces that tell the story of Bamburgh’s many reincarnations over the centuries. From Anglo Saxon royal palace to the ‘perfect castle’ as envisioned by Victorian inventor and industrialist the First Lord Armstrong, there are 3,000 years of history waiting to be discovered. Check out their website for a whole host of special summer events taking place too.
Bamburgh NE69 7DF
01668 214 208
LINDISFARNE HERITAGE CENTRE, PRIORY & CASTLE
Lindisfarne Centre is the ideal starting point for your visit to Holy Island. Learn all about the history and heritage of the island through a series of installations and exhibitions that explore everything from Viking attacks to more peaceful community life, as well as how the monks produced the world famous Lindisfarne Gospels. Head to the ruined Priory to understand more of the island’s 1,400-year history, and wander around the island’s iconic castle, perched above the sea, designed by Edwin Lutyens as an unusual Edwardian holiday home with a Gertrude Jekyll-designed garden.
Holy Island TD15 2SD
GRACE DARLING MUSEUM
Perhaps Victorian England’s greatest heroine, in 1838 Grace Darling risked her life by rowing a mile out to sea in the middle of a storm to rescue nine survivors from the wrecked SS Forfarshire. This museum celebrates her life and the rescue which made this young woman a reluctant celebrity, you can even see the wooden boat she piloted across the perilous seas.
Bamburgh NE69 7AE
HOWICK HALL GARDENS
Howick Hall has been the ancestral seat of the Earls Grey since 1319, and you can discover its history by wandering through the beautiful gardens. Meanwhile the more energetic should explore the arboretum – a united nations of shrubs and trees covering more than 65 acres – or follow the Long Walk east through the gardens to the sea. Take a rest from exploring by raising a cup of Earl Grey tea in praise of the 2nd Earl, after whom the famous drink is named.
Alnwick NE66 3LB
This mighty Northumberland fortress crowns a hilltop above the River Coquet, and dominates the pretty village of the same name. Discover how the Dukes of Northumberland (the powerful Percy family) lived, exploring the magnificent cross-shaped keep, once home to Harry Hotspur. Continue your adventure by boat to discover the Hermitage carved out of the rock, originally built as a private chapel for the first Earl of Northumberland.
Warkworth NE65 0UJ
ST MARY’S LIGHTHOUSE
Reached between the tides via a short causeway, St Mary’s Lighthouse sits on a miniature, part-time island. Completed in 1898, the lighthouse remained operational until 1984, when it became a visitor centre surrounded by a Nature Reserve. Climb the 137 steps to the top for spectacular views of the coast, or watch the live video at ground level.
Whitley Bay NE26 4RS
0191 200 8652
Run by an enthusiastic group of volunteers who maintain, conserve, research and open the buildings to members of the public, Blyth Battery is a museum portraying the importance of First World War sea defences. After more than 70 years, the battery now has replica Mark VII six-inch naval guns, very similar to what would have been here in World War II, back in its gun emplacements.
South Beach, Blyth NE24 3PQ
NEWBIGGIN MARITIME CENTRE
The gateway to Northumberland’s coastline, Newbiggin Maritime Centre lets you discover what life was like in a historic fishing village. It’s also home to the Mary Joicey all-weather lifeboat, the Girl Anne fishing coble and the 65-seat Breakwater Café.
Church Point, Newbiggin by the Sea NE64 6DB
SEATON DELAVAL HALL
This may have been one of architect Sir John Vanbrugh’s smallest designs, yet this striking hall is an example of quality not quantity. Once home to the somewhat scandalous Delaval family, the story of the hall’s survival has been a dramatic one – it still bears the scars of the fierce fires which almost condemned it to ruin 200 years ago. Following four years of restorations and repairs, as well as new additions, there’s never been a better time to visit and explore.
Seaton Sluice, Whitley Bay
0191 237 9100
TYNEMOUTH PRIORY AND CASTLE
Standing on the shoreline, towering above King Edward’s Bay, these 2,000-year-old ruins are a dramatic sight. Once one of the largest fortified areas in England, they dominate the headland overlooking the North Sea and mouth of the River Tyne. From its origins as an Iron Age settlement to becoming an Anglo-Saxon monastery, royal castle and even an artillery fort, Tynemouth Priory and Castle has seen it all.
Pier Road, Tynemouth NE30 4BZ
0191 257 1090
SOUTH SHIELDS MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY
Open to the public since 1867, this gallery and museum celebrates the heritage of South Tyneside and the people who shaped it. Spread over two floors, the museum tells the story of the area’s social, industrial and maritime history through a range of displays, exhibitions and works of art.
Ocean Road, South Shields NE33 2JA
0191 211 5599
Perched high on a cliff, Whitby Abbey has been inspiring visitors for nearly 1,500 years. An important religious centre in Anglo-Saxon England, you can explore the abbey’s extensive Gothic ruins and discover years of history, amazing views and a packed events programme in the newly remodelled visitor centre, just 199 steps ups from Whitby harbour.
Abbey Lane, Whitby YO22 4JT
ZETLAND LIFEBOAT MUSEUM AND REDCAR HERITAGE CENTRE
This museum is home to the oldest surviving lifeboat in the world – the Zetland. Built in 1802 by Henry Greathead at his South Shields boatyard, the boat saw 78 years of service and saved more than 500 documented lives from the treacherous Redcar coast. Displays of artefacts, photographs and memorabilia also help visitors discover more about the lives of the people of the area, and its maritime heritage.
60 Esplanade, Redcar TS10 3AH
CAPTAIN COOK MUSEUM
This 17th century house in the heart of Whitby is where the young James Cook lodged as he served his seaman’s apprenticeship when not at sea. For 10 years, Cook explored the unknown waters of the Pacific, South Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, with the museum’s detailed collections annotating his astonishing achievements, as well as those of the people who sailed with him, including the many scientists and artists.
Grape Lane, Whitby YO22 4BA
RAVENSCAR WW2 RADAR STATION
This historic coastal defence station, situated on a cliff edge just south of Ravenscar village, was constructed in 1941 alongside several barrack blocks. Explore the remains of the four buildings once used as a radar station and take in the commanding sea views.
Ravenscar YO13 0LY
TYNEMOUTH VOLUNTEER LIFE BRIGADE WATCH HOUSE & MUSEUM
This free-to-enter hidden gem stands on the headland overlooking the mouth of the River Tyne. It is both a museum and the headquarters of TVLB, the first volunteer coastguard company in the UK and grandfather organisation of today’s Coastguard Rescue teams. The museum includes items collected by rescuers from wrecks and incidents over the last 158 years.
Spanish Battery, Tynemouth
0191 257 2059
ARBEIA ROMAN FORT & MUSEUM
Discover what life was like in Roman Britain in this meticulous reconstruction of the fort that defended the coast and the sea route to Hadrian’s Wall. With live gladiator combat, falconry displays, heritage markets and festivals, Arbeia is a great immersive experience. It’s now dog-friendly too.
Baring Street, South Shields NE33 2BB
0191 277 1410
This iconic red and white hooped beacon opened in 1871 – the first lighthouse in the world designed and built to be powered by electricity. A marvel of its age, the lighthouse sits just south of The Leas, a stunning stretch of magnesian limestone cliffs populated by kittiwakes, cormorants and guillemots well worth exploring.
Coast Road, Whitburn, Sunderland SR6 7NH
0191 529 3161
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE ROYAL NAVY
Jump aboard the ‘mari-time machine’ and travel back to an authentic 18th century quayside, where costumed guides will teach you all about life at sea. The museum is also home to the oldest warship afloat in Europe, the HMS Trincomalee.
Jackson Dock, Maritime Avenue, Hartlepool TS24 0XZ
With fossils found on Yorkshire’s Dinosaur Coast, objects from Star Carr and the skeleton and coffin of a Bronze Age man, this curved, 19th century, Grade II-listed museum is a real treasure trove.
Vernon Road, Scarborough
Sitting proudly on the prominent headland between the town’s North and South Bays, Scarborough Castle offers panoramic views over the Yorkshire coastline from its battlement platforms. Experience 3,000 years of history with an invaluable audio tour, gaining an insight into its past from Iron Age settlements to the Roman signal station. The castle’s heyday was in the 12th century when it was strengthened by Henry II, and it has watched over some of England’s most defining battles. Kids will love to play on the grassy headland, as you take in the spectacular views.
Castle Road, Scarborough
SOUTH CLIFF ITALIAN GARDENS
Created in the early 20th century by noted landscape designer Harry W Smith, and well worth exploring, the Italian Gardens took more than 40 years to complete. The gardens are now Grade-II listed and boast a number of notable features including formal planting, seating and an ornate lily pond complete with a statue of Mercury.
Esplanade, Scarborough YO11 2AY
SEWERBY HALL, GARDENS & ZOO
Uniquely situated in a dramatic clifftop position with spectacular views over Bridlington, Sewerby Hall offers something for everyone, from the 50 acres of 19th century parkland to the deep-rooted heritage of the house. Restored to its Edwardian glory, this Grade I-listed building is well worth exploring before you head out into the walled garden, pleasure garden, picnic areas and zoo.
Church Lane, Sewerby, Bridlington YO15 1ED