The Northumberland Coast (in summer!)

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
7
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
6
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
5
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
8
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
3
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
6
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
65 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Europe
country
UK
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 40
Time of year visited
July
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
163rd/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 50% SUMMARY RATING: Great Experience

Summary

The UK isn’t known for its beaches, and for good reason – its only warm enough for them 3 months of the year and even less the further north you go!  That’s why the coastline of Northumberland, and in particular Bamburgh Beach and Embleton Bay, comes as a bit of surprise when I put them in a list of the top beaches in the world.  But before you write it off as nostalgic madness, consider a few factors:

  1.  The castle backdrops – Bamburgh Castle is an imposing 11th century Normal castle that looms over Bamburgh Beach from its crag right on the waterfront and with as much history as almost any castle in the world.   England dominates the world for stunning castles by the beach, and Bamburgh is the jewel in the crown.  Dunstanburgh Castle, whilst more battered over the centuries, provides a similar backdrop for Embleton Bay
  2. The quality of the sand – the sand tone in this part of the world is the same as the powdery sand you find in the tropical beaches of the likes of Brazil and the Caribbean, and is so fine it squeaks, which is in stark contrast to some of the pebble beaches you find in the eastern Mediterranean and south of England
  3. The cute villages by the water – the likes of Low Newton-by-the-Sea, with its gorgeous white cottage square green circled by local pubs overlooking the beach are about as quaint and lovely as anywhere in England
  4. Few tourists – “best kept secret” seems to have held well for decades and you simply don’t have the volume of fellow tourists as you would in the south of England.  The beaches are wide and long, and you will likely have big chunks to yourself
  5. The Northumberland Coast Driving Tour – you have some great nearby attractions that share the quiet vibe.  In particular, Hadrian’s Wall (the well preserved northern boundary of the Roman Empire), Lindisfarne (aka Holy Island – a key centre for the spread of Christianity in Britain in the Dark Ages and infamous site of the first Viking invasions), and the various quaint Northumberland villages dotted no distance from the coast

 

It obviously doesn’t hit the tropical beach vibe, but is nonetheless beautiful.  Just be sure to go in summer!

highlights

#1 The spectacular setting of Bamburgh beach with the imposing 11th century Bamburgh Castle as backdrop

#2 The walk along Embleton Bay to Low Newton-by-the-Sea from Dunstanburgh Castle

#4 Having lunch at Low Newton-by-the-Sea with its pretty village green circled by small pubs and cottages that flows onto the beach

#4 Embleton Bay with Dunstanburgh Castle looming in the background

#5 The drive over the Causeway to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne

#6 The beautiful green lawn walk over to the dunes just after Banburgh Castle

#7 Staying in the gorgeous Doxford Hall, with its combination of traditional grounds and modern spa comforts

#8 Meeting some of the locals

Travel Tips

  • Go in summer!  Its a nice walk in winter, but you’re only realistically going to sit on the sand and swim in the summer
  • Try Craster Kippers – famous smoked fish that is eaten across the UK.  The village of Craster is cute to visit and is an easy walk to Dunstanburgh Castle
  • Best beach – Bamburgh beach.  Be sure to walk through the prett green on your way to the sand dunes
  • Best walk – be sure to walk the 6.5km / 4mile between Craster village and Low Newton-by-the-sea which goes via Dunstanburgh Castle and includes the wonderful beach of Embleton Bay
  • Visit Lindisfarne (Holy Island) – the small island that represented one of the key bastions of Christianity throughout the dark ages in England is accessed via a causeway that can be driven for 5 hours a day from the mainland.  Be sure to just check when the open window is and plan accordingly.  Only needs an hour or so to see the Priory and have a walk around
  • Pubs – there are heaps of pretty and welcoming pubs all the way along the Northumberland Coast.  Top tips are: 1. The Ship Inn in the village green of Low Newton-by-the-sea; 2. Mizen Head restaurant in Bamburgh; 3. The Jolly Fisherman in Craster.  With all, be sure to try the local crab and lobster dishes
  • Splurge stay – there are plenty of places along the coastline to stay in, but if you fancy something a bit inland and a bit fancy, I recommend Doxford Hall which is only 10mins from the coast.  Old stately hall done well with modern interior, including a spa, and gorgeous grounds, including a maze

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone