Northumberland Coast Path Log
In May 2019 my wife Jan and I walked the 75 mile Northumberland Coast Path from Ellington then along the coast from Cresswell to Berwick upon Tweed over 6 days. We drove up to Ellington, near Morpeth, on Saturday 18th May and left our car at the Plough Inn, the owners. were very understanding and I don’t think we were the first guests to ask them!
Sunday 19th May 2019 Ellington to Warkworth 14 miles
After a good breakfast at the Plough (a good friendly place to stay) we started walking the 2 miles to the coast at Cresswell. Lots of sunny spells through the day but cloudy by the time we reached days end at Warkworth. Jolly impressive castle which doesn’t look ruined until you see it close up.
The walking was mainly on the long sandy beaches of Druridge Bay. During the morning we were entertained by a flock of 10 Common Sandpipers racing one another along the high water edge. Then a solitary Little Tern was diving into the waters edge over and over again. Oystercatchers are everywhere and a few Curlews. We came off the beach by a nature reserve near Amble. Lots of geese and Shelduck as well as close views of Reed Bunting, Whitethroat and Stonechat. Lots of birds to watch most of the day. Dozens of Eider Duck too in groups of 6 to 10 mostly.
Just south of Amble on the beach there were 3 horse and traps racing one another and lots and lots of dog walkers, all with dogs that looked the same.
Amble was disappointing, I was ready for a pint but of the 4 pubs that we found 3 had no real ales and one was closed. Instead we sat on a seat overlooking the marina for a break.
In Warkworth we stayed at the Sun Hotel opposite Warkworth Castle. They have a Brew House Bar that the hotel website claims sells up to 8 real ales from their own brewery. Disappointingly they only had Doombar and a pale ale on so we went into the centre of Warkworth to find alternative offerings.
The Hermitage Inn, a Jennings pub, had 4 beers on so we stayed here. I had Sneck Lifter and Jan had Cocker Hoop. It was a very friendly, welcoming place. We hadn’t been there long before someone came round with dishes of roast potatoes in gravy (free!) for several of the tables, Jan polished off most of one dish, then we had our evening meals!
Live music started a bit later, it was excellent, covers of Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, and lots of others.
I’m carrying my Mamiya 7 camera with 2 lenses for this trip. So far I have taken 1 roll of Ilford 400 Delta 120 film. That’s 10 exposures. I’m using the fast film so that I don’t have to carry a tripod.
The trek will be about 75 miles by the time we reach Berwick 6 days after starting. Jan and I are just carrying light rucsacks with just what we need for the day. Our luggage is moved each day from hotel to hotel by a luggage transfer company called Brigantes. Shower and clean clothes in the evening, luxury!
Monday 20th May 2019 Warkworth to Dunstan (near Craster) 14.5 miles
We left the Sun Hotel in Warkworth at the crack of 10am. It was overcast so no pictures of the castle.
The first section was down a small ginnel between the back gardens of houses and allotments. Quite high walls on both sides, some of the stonework looked old too.
After a mile or so we were on the beach and heading to Alnmouth. Not many people out today, just a few dog walkers. Just before Alnmouth there’s a fairly lengthy detour to cross the estuary by the only bridge.
From Alnmouth it was back on the beach heading north again. After a few hundred yards the beach was largely deserted. We came off the beach at Boulmer to walk through the village. Unfortunately the pub is closed on Mondays so we didn’t stop.
From Boulmer we stayed above the beach which was mostly rock and boulders, not easy walking. Just before Craster we stopped for our Eccles Cake break and I took photos of Dunstanburgh Castle and Craster.
In Craster the coast path goes through the beer garden of the Jolly Fisherman’s pub. Not wishing to take advantage of them we stopped for a pint of Timothy Taylor Landlord. It was a timely stop as the sun made an appearance as we left. Time for harbour photos.
Finally it was just under a mile to our hotel, the Cottage Inn in Dunstan village. Big modern room, big bed, cold shower (the hot water ran out).
Very tasty food and big portions. 3 real ales to choose from, I went for Secret Kingdom from Hadrian Border Brewery.
Tuesday 21st May 2019 Dunstan (Craster) to Beadnell 10.5 miles
It was a dull start to the day and a bit chilly as we left the Cottage Inn in Dunstan just after 9.30am. The light on Craster Harbour was flat as a pancake so no more photos here.
It was a couple of miles to Dunstanburgh Castle. The ruins are visible from miles away. Shortly after arriving it started raining and it continued for less than 30 minutes but we put full waterproofs on in case it was going to last.
The ruins are quite substantial and we spent an hour wandering around taking phone photos. I didn’t take any photos on my Mamiya 7 camera until near the end of the walk.
The next section of coast path goes past a cliff full of Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Razorbills. We sat and watched them for several minutes before continuing alongside a golf course for quite a distance. By this stage the sun had come out and there was a blue sky above.
Our next stop was at a bird reserve hide beside the path. Not a lot going on, a heron preening and a Wigeon being the highlights.
Soon after this we came to the Ship Inn at Low Newton. I hadn’t realised that there was a pub before Beadnell so we went in to investigate. They had 3 beers on, all brewed in their own brewery next door. I had the Red Herring, a ruby ale. It was very busy, maybe because it was about 1pm.
Soon we were on the final stretch to Beadnell and Terns were flying overhead. Little Terns and Arctic Terns nest on the beach and are protected by fencing and wardens. There were also a couple of Ringed Plovers. After the nesting site we walked along the beach to the harbour. I took a few photos on my Mamiya 7 camera as it was a different view to what I’ve taken in the past.
From the harbour it was 20 minutes or so to the Craster Arms, our hostelry for the night. No dark beers so I had Allendale Golden Plover. The fish and chips was good and huge portions, the Creme Brûlée was good too.
Wednesday 22nd May 2019 Beadnell to Belford 13 miles
It was a delayed start as breakfast was in a cafe opposite our hotel and the chef turned up late.
It was a bright day with a cool breeze as we walked along the top of the small cliffs above the beach. A mile or so from Seahouses we were able to get down onto the beach but had to come up into the village to get around the harbour. Every time we visit Seahouses it’s a building site and this time was no different. Cranes and builders fencing everywhere around the harbour. Not a pretty sight.
Once out of Seahouses we dropped down to the sandy beach as soon as we could and followed this beyond Bamburgh Castle. We came up over the sand dunes, walked around the castle to the main street and went in to the Lord Crewe Hotel for some refreshments. I had a pint of Holy Cow.
From here we headed inland up and down rolling countryside to Belford.
We stayed in the Blue Bell Hotel, the only hotel in the centre of Belford. The room is okay but it needs refurbishing and it’s not the cleanest place we’ve stayed.
I took 3 photos with my Mamiya 7 camera, making a total of 30 negatives after 4 days, that’s 3 rolls of Ilford 4oo Delta 120 film.
Thursday 23rd May 2019 Belford to West Mains 11 miles
The title of the walk was a bit of a misnomer today, mostly we were walking inland a few miles from the coast.
It was a short day today so we didn’t leave until 10am. Wall to wall sunshine all day with a cool breeze made for perfect walking weather.
The route crossed fields of sheep or cows, woodland, heath and moor as well as short sections of road. We were close to our end point before 1pm so we consulted the map and decided to take the long way.
We eventually crossed the busy A1 at Fenwick, a couple of fields and then came to the East Coast Rail Line. The trains travel at well over 100mph so you have to ring to find out if it’s safe to cross. In the time it takes to cross, a train would travel about half a mile. We were given the all clear so over we went. A few more fields and we were at the coast for the only time today.
A couple of hundred yards and we reached the road at the end of the causeway to Holy Island. The tide was out so no photos here.
From here it was a bit over a mile on good tracks and roadside pavement to our hostelry, the Lindisfarne Inn in West Mains, right on the A1. The accommodation seems to all be in a separate modern building. Good size ensuite room with a decent shower but WiFi so weak I couldn’t use it. The phone signal was good in the evening, 4G, so I used that for my blog post.
I didn’t take any photos with my Mamiya 7 camera and just a handful of phone photos. Hopefully more tomorrow as we walk along the coast to Berwick, our final destination.
Friday 24th May 2019 Belford to Berwick-Upon-Tweed 12 miles
After a good breakfast at the Lindisfarne Inn we headed off on the short distance to the coast. It was another warm day, lots of sunshine but breezy.
Most of the 12 miles to the end of our 6 day trek in Berwick was along the beach with small sections along the cliffs, including the last part.
Towards the end we dropped down to the promenade in Spittal and made a Bee-line for the ice cream van. After a leisurely break we walked the last mile or so to finish at the Barrels pub in Berwick.
We walked 75 miles in 6 days. I carried a light rucsack of 4.5kg and a camera case with my Mamiya 7 camera, 80mm and 43mm lenses. The camera was in a LowePro 70AW Toploader case carried on the front on a shoulder harness with the second lens in a LowePro 9x13cm lens case strapped to the side, making a total of 3.5kg. I took 6 rolls of 400 delta on the trip but I was disappointed that the 3 main castles of Warkworth, Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh, were visited in dull or wet weather so I still don’t have any pictures of Warkworth Castle!
In 6 days we only needed waterproofs for about 30 minutes as we walked around Dunstanburgh castle, not bad for 6 days in Northumberland. It was also low tide each morning through midday so that we could walk on the beach a lot which made a change for us, normally we’re in the mountains so beaches were a novelty.
We stayed in Berwick an extra night and walked around the town, estuary and castle. before catching the train to Morpeth on Sunday 26th May 2019. From here it was a 10 minute taxi ride to Ellington and our car. We dropped our luggage off and went in the pub to have a drink and thank the owners for letting us leave our car there. Then Jan drove us back home. It was a very enjoyable easy walk helped by the dry weather and low tides in the mornings so that we could walk on the beaches a lot, a novelty when you’re used to the Derbyshire hills. Watching so many different birds to what we’re used to in the Peak District also added to the trek.
Here are a few photos including Berwick on Tweed.
The last few days I realised that we were seeing and hearing lots of different birds on our travels so I decided to write them down so that we remembered them. It amounted to over 60 species. Here’s the list
Northumberland Birds May 2019
Arctic Tern, Little Tern, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Great Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Black Headed Gull, Razorbill, Cormorant, Shag, Eider
Oystercatcher, Common Sandpiper Ringed Plover, Curlew, Sanderling, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw
Shelduck, Wigeon, Goosander, Mallard, Coot Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan
Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Starling, Pheasant, Grey Partridge, Wood Pigeon, Rock Dove
Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Skylark, Pied Wagtail, Great Tit, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Robin, Wren