If you are following me on Instagram @35mminstyle, you know that I have just moved to the UK (catch up here on my related blog post) and that I have always had a thing for England for no particular reason. Well, actually for tons of reasons, and one of them, is the countryside.
I was born and raised in the Italian countryside and beside my curiosity for metropolis, I am constantly drowned to the huge green fields (that is part of my wild side popping out from times to times) and England has tons of beautiful landscapes. So, I am starting a mental wish list of places I really want to visit since I am here and one is Northumberland, in the northeast coast of England.
Northumberland is a great place to enjoy on a Sunday adventure. The area’s good looks are recognised globally, with hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world arriving to take in the natural beauty of the area, with winding beaches, untamed coastlines, thriving coastal wildlife and lively market towns make for the perfect break away from the city.
There are a few wonderful sights that I can’t miss and I have listed down below (also because I am a history freak, Middle Age is my weakness!)
01| Craster breakfast and Dunstanburgh Castle
Craster is a cheery fishing village that sits on the North Sea coast. The village is world famous for its smoked kippers, a fish delicacy that is eaten up and down the country, and is even a favourite of the Royal Family. Coincidentally, Craster kippers also make a great breakfast dish, which is why Craster is the only place you should think about starting your day.
Before you tuck into a hearty breakfast, you can work up an appetite by talking a morning stroll along to Dunstanburgh Castle. If the weather is kind, you can take in the sweeping coastal scenery whilst walking the two-and-a-half mile round trip to the castle and back. The castle itself is more of a ruin, having suffered several sieges in its past, but still casts a striking silhouette against the backdrop of the North Sea. Being also overly fascinated by old ruins, it would be the perfect scenery for some analog photographs!
Once you get back to the village, you should look for a small catering van called Piper’s Pitch in the car park of the Craster Visitor’s centre. Piper’s Pitch is the home of the famous ‘kipper-in-a-bun’, a tasty breakfast bap that captures the authentic taste of Craster. Piper’s Pitch opens at 10am, which gives you plenty of time for your morning stroll before breakfast.
02 | Seahouses and the Farne Islands
After your breakfast, head further up the coast to Seahouses, a large fishing village that still operates a working port. Take a wander around the bustling harbour area before boarding one of the tour boats for a spot of puffin and seal spotting on the Farne Islands.
The islands have one of the North’s largest colonies of puffins, and it is a great opportunity to see them nesting in their natural habitat, as well as the island’s resident Grey Seals. If you don’t have a huge amount of time, you can opt for the Grey Seal tour operated by Billy Shiel’s Farne Island Boat Trips which gives a 1.5 hour whistle-stop tour of the islands with a chance to see the nesting birds and the basking Grey Seals.
If you return from the tour feeling peckish, head over to One Coffee 1 for a coffee and a slice of Great British Bake Off-inspired cake. Yummy!!
03 | Alnwick
South and inland from Seahouses lies the market town of Alnwick and its impressive castle. The town has plenty to offer visitors, with independent craft and gift stores selling a wide selection of unique goods. The town also has a good selection of cafes and coffee shops so you can sit down and take a closer look at your purchases.
Alnwick’s most visited site is the well-preserved castle that sits near the river. Also keen-eyed fans of the Harry Potter films(me!!) might notice that parts of the castle were used as location shots for the magical school, Hogwarts, which Harry attends. It is worth taking a tour of the castle, as the interior is as well turned-out as its impressive exterior, and there are often interesting events taking place inside. Here the castle website for full details of their current events.
The castle’s gardens also have much to offer. The garden features many beautiful sights, such as the colourful Rose Garden, spectacular Grand Cascade fountains and the snow-white Cherry Orchard. Going for a walk in the Alnwick Gardens is a peaceful and relaxing experience, and also the perfect way to spend your Sunday afternoon. As the afternoon draws to a close, climb the steps and cross the wobbly rope bridge to The Treehouse for a unique dining experience in the acclaimed Treehouse Restaurant.
Why not extending the trip?
There is so much to see and do in Northumberland that you may consider extending your trip beyond your perfect Sunday. There are many places to visit that can take time to visit and fully appreciate, such as: Hadrian’s Wall (definitely a stop if you love old Romans history!), Northumberland National Park, Kielder Forest and Reservoir, and Cragside House and Gardens amongst many others.
If you are thinking about extending your stay, it is worth noting that there are many options for accommodation in this wonderful county. A favourite choice among visitors is to rent a self-catering cottage for the duration of their stay and use it as their base of operations for touring around. Stay Northumbria specialise in holiday home rentals and offer a range of options across most of Northumberland. Check their website for the latest deals and vacancies ahead of your visit.
Castles, beautiful gardens, wild nature and ruins on the coast are some of the reasons why Northumberland is on the top of my to-do-list of traveling throughout the UK.
Have you ever been or would love to have a trip over there?