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Why There's Something for Everyone in These Northumberland Coastal Villages

Alnmouth, Fish Shack, Coquet Island, Mariners House
August 2022
Reading time 3 Minutes

This short stretch of coastline has everything from ancient history to a multitude of watersports, and plenty of wildlife and fabulous foodie outlets – something for everyone in fact

The picture-postcard village of Alnmouth, with its colourful cottages, has everything you’d expect from a traditional seaside community – cosy tearooms and cafés, quirky shops and galleries, charming pubs and a popular links course hugging the shoreline. A few miles to the south is Warkworth – arguably one of the most picturesque villages in the region with its ruined castle on a loop of the River Coquet still proudly dominating village proceedings. Just a short cycle south along the banks of the River Coquet, the bustling fishing town of Amble continues its transformation, with independent shops and award-winning harbourside restaurants. A mile off the coast, Coquet Island offers a safe haven for more than 30,000 pairs of nesting seabirds (you can’t land there but you can sail around it) while further south is the vast sandy stretch of Cresswell and the magnificent Druridge Bay, a popular riding, cycling, walking and surfing destination.
View out the Bay window at Mariners House Mariners House

Base Camp

You’ll be spoilt for choice with the range of options from Coquet Cottages in this area; Lyndhurst, near Alnmouth is a fantastic five star, pet-friendly family retreat, sleeping up to 10 guests, overlooking Loxton Golf Course and the sea. Coquet View in Warkworth is a Grade II-listed Georgian townhouse on the banks of the river. Sleeping six, it has oodles of character and makes a great base from which to explore this stretch of the coast. Original Cottages also has a selection of individuallystyled, luxury holiday properties to choose from; The Quayside is a first-floor apartment overlooking Amble Harbour, whilst the cute Lobster Pot Cottage, just a few miles to the south of Amble, is just 60 metres from the beautiful beach at Hauxley. A romantic retreat, the former fisherman’s cottage sleeps just two guests. Golfers can’t get much better than the dog-friendly Mariners House in Alnmouth, with a window seat which overlooks the village golf course and the sea beyond, available to rent from Cottages In Northumberland.

Coquet Island Coquet Island
Alnmouth Alnmouth
Boats on the water with Warkworth Castle in the background Warkworth Castle

Perfect Weekend

If you’re starting in Alnmouth, drop into Scott’s of Alnmouth for breakfast, or coffee and a slice of homemade cake (sadly they’re not dog friendly, but there are a few tables outside if you’re just off the beach after a dog walk) before popping into The Aln Gift Shop and Gallery to peruse the many nautical-themed knick-knacks, or the gem of a Post Office which stocks just about everything. If art is your thing, The Old School Gallery always has a stunning range of paintings and prints and an everchanging exhibition space. Arguably the highlight of any trip here is the the beach, bisected by the estuary and best on a sunny day when the tide is out. Catch your breath in The Village Tearooms, where you can refuel amid quirky vintage decor. If you fancy something a bit stronger, stop off at one of the village’s pubs for a pint of locally-sourced real ale, before popping into The Hope & Anchor for takeaway fish and chips. The latest addition to the village, The Whittling House, is a restaurant with 10 quirky bedrooms and well worth trying for its reliably good, locally-sourced dishes – the cosy bar is a treat too. For keen golfers, there’s a nine-hole course in Alnmouth village, and just a mile north, the more challenging course at Foxton is the fourth-oldest golf club in England.

For any avid walkers or cyclists out there, enjoy the popular 3.5-mile route from Alnmouth south along the coast towards Warkworth Beach. With a skyline dominated by the magnificent Warkworth Castle, this ancient village is just a 15-minute stroll inland. Explore the village to your heart’s content, visit Cabosse Chocolates for coffee and cake, The Greenhouse for unusual interior gifts and accessories, and Grays for perfect presents. At the opposite end of the village to the castle, a church has stood on the site of the Church of St Lawrence for 13 centuries and you can sense the history here. In 727AD the King of Northumbria gave the church to the monks of Holy Island, and the current church was built in 1132.

internal shot of the Fish Shack Fish Shack

Keep tight to the riverbank and you can walk or cycle the entire 1.5-mile route to Amble, on the mouth of the River Coquet and home to a small fishing fleet. Take a tour around the Town Trail to discover Amble’s hidden secrets and search out bargains at the regular Sunday Market, before relaxing to the sound of halyards clinking in the town’s busy marina. Watersport enthusiasts should head for the Coquet Shorebase Trust, which offers plenty of aquatic fun, or Northside Surf School for a paddleboarding or surf lesson on any number of nearby beaches, or try the Angling Centre where you can charter a boat to take you fishing, while leisure-seekers can pop into boutique ice cream makers Spurreli for the most innovative of ice cream flavours. Just over the road, artisan pods make up the Harbour Village, and you’ll find a range of art, crafts, food and drink, and even a lobster hatchery. Hungry? Jaspers in the village is a go-to bistro for fantastic seafood – it may be small but that just adds to the great atmosphere. Freshly-caught Amble lobster with garlic mayo at The Fat Mermaid is hard to beat, or try the rustic Fish Shack serving everything from local oysters to classic fish and chips with stunning waterside views and a great atmosphere.

Home to the UK’s only Puffin Festival (inspired by the colony nesting just offshore on Coquet Island), Amble offers Puffin Cruises around the seabird sanctuary, where you’re also likely to see the UK’s rarest seabird – the Roseate Tern – as you sail past the island’s 80-foot lighthouse, whose first keeper was Grace Darling’s big brother.

Just three miles south of Amble, Druridge Bay offers one of the most impressive stretches of beach backed by sand dunes on Britain’s east coast, and is chock-full of family-friendly picnic spots that are perfect on a sunny day (perhaps avoiding the bit of beach south of Chevington Burn, which is an unofficial naturist beach) while the nearby Country Park has water sports on Ladyburn Lake, as well as a visitor centre, play area and café.

Must See

No trip to the area would be complete without exploring the medieval Warkworth Castle. Crowning the hilltop above the River Coquet, this mighty fortress is famed for being the ancestral seat of the Percy family and was immortalised by Shakespeare in Henry IV as the home of Harry Hotspur. Wander the circuit within the towering walls of this magnificent cross-shaped keep and imagine the lavish lifestyle of the Percys with a visit to the Duke’s Rooms inside, before being rowed across the river by the resident boatman to Warkworth Hermitage – a 14th century chapel hewn from the rock face and accessible only by boat. Today, you’re more likely to spot seals and otters swimming up to the curious, cave-like chapel than the monks that used to pray for the souls of the Percy family.

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