Northumberland ambitions19th September 2006
Northumberland’s attractions include stunning coastline and empty moorland; it is also one of the least populated counties in England. The coastline is certainly a sight to behold: beaches, rugged cliffs and castles abound. In fact, the Northumberland coast is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and it also is possible to follow a lot of it on public footpaths. And there are plenty of beaches too, should one want to walk along them instead. While the dramatic coastline and big skies keep one entertained, Northumberland’s coast would not be as engaging were it not for the landmarks that pepper its length. Holy Island, playing host Lindisfarne Castle and also a terminus of St. Cuthbert’s Way, is just one of these and you need to watch the tides if crossing over to it on the causeway. There is a bus service there and the timings follow the tides, making for a very eccentric timetable. Castles also abound and examples include the inhabited Bamburgh Castle and the decaying hulk of Dunstanburgh Castle.
Last January, I took myself up to Alnmouth by train (the station is a mile (less than 2 km from the village), itself an engaging spot, for a coastal walk to Craster. The coast certainly held its drama and the mild day surprised me with some of the gorse in bloom, unusual for the time of year. The sky, however, was largely cloudy and I fancy a return before I have photos totally deserving of the location. Continuing further up the coast to take Bamburgh and Holy Island remains another idea for the future.
Before dwelling on the county’s coastline, I did mention that Northumberland possessed some splendidly empty moorland. In fact, it hosts a national park, probably the least frequented in the U.K. However, in spite my plans to pay the park a visit, it has not as yet come to fruition and sights in the northern extremities of the Pennines such as the Cheviot and High Cup Nick remain unseen by my eyes. The Pennine Way frequents hills these as it continues through Northumberland to its northern terminus at Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. Also passing through the county on its way from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to the west coast beyond Carlisle is Hadrian’s Wall and the national trail that follows it.
Combine the above with engaging the above with a variety of engaging towns and villages and Northumberland seems to have it made. It is definitely worthy of a few days stay and the price of rail travel from Macclesfield to stations like Berwick-upon-Tweed and Alnmouth might see to it that my explorations may indeed follow that train of thought (no pun intended).