A Northumberland adventure in a motorhome
We headed off to Northumberland for an adventure in our motorhome (in the sleet!) in February. Within an hour, the sun was shining down, so the moral of the story – keep the faith, don’t let the weather put you off, and take lots of layers! Here are some tips for great things to do.
Our first stop in our motorhome was Eyemouth, for a coffee, leg stretch and a mooch around. You can buy fresh fish here in the working port, and there are a few nice cafes. It’s not set up for tourists especially, though, so expect fishy smells and proper fishing boats, and try not to get in the way! There is plenty of parking suitable for motorhomes too in a car park overlooking the harbour.
You can hardly travel down the east coast and not visit Holy Island. At this time of year, the car park is capacious and the roads clear (I suspect it may not be quite the same in peak season). Check the tide times carefully before you go, and if you fancy, you can walk / splosh across. Boringly we took the motorhome on the road….
We didn’t stay there on this trip , but there is a nice looking overnight site at The Barn at Beale, with a view across to Holy Island. There are a limited number of motorhome spaces (so book ahead), but there’s a restaurant and gift shop there, hook ups and it looks lovely.
Holy Island is an atmospheric place full of soul, but perhaps less so with hundreds of visitors. It’s a small place, obviously, with fabulous views, quiet wild space and loads of wading and other birds at this time of year. There are plenty of places to walk and mooch and drink coffee and look. I am not knowledgeable about churches, but I thought the church there was lovely, with amazing stained glass windows and some very moving memorials to those who fell in the wars.
In the winter, there are more limited options for motorhome sites. We stayed at Fowberry Farm, a working farm on the Northumbrian Way, with hard standing for several motorhomes at the front of the farmyard. We walked to the Lord Crewe Hotel at Bamburgh, a half hour walk across the fields. It felt properly adventurous and we did lots of star gazing on the way home on a beautiful crisp star-lit night. Large areas of the Northumbria National Park are designated Dark Sky areas – it’s worth finding out more.
The following day started at Craster. We left the motorhome in the car park there and walked on the coastal walk from Craster to Beadnall, choosing this direction because the prevailing wind was behind us (don’t ignore the weather, just adapt the plan to make it work better!). We started at Dunstanburgh Castle and followed the coastal path to the splendid Ship Inn at Low Newton by the sea, which has its own micro brewery, fresh crab sandwiches and an open fire. Once we’d dried out and eaten sandwiches (stotties?) the size of our heads, we continued on to Beadnall, and stopped at the confusingly named Craster Arms whilst we waited for the bus (or in our case taxi, as the bus timetable hadn’t been updated, and we thought there wasn’t one). There’s a well stocked village shop in Beadnall too, and the centre is very pretty.
Off to Alnwick the next day, and the first stop was Barter Books, which is the best bookshop I’ve ever been in, and I’ve lurked around in a few….Go there, you will be charmed – and well read. There’s also a nice cafe and the refurbished station architecture and specially commissioned mural are lovely to gaze at, if your nose isn’t already in a book.
A trip to Alnwick is not complete without a trip to the gardens of Alnwick Castle. Even in the ‘off’ season, the architectural bones of this garden, run as a charity, are stunning. My teenager and I had a brilliant tour around the Poison Garden (finding out somewhat alarmingly that we have at least a third of the 35 plants mentioned by the very knowledgeable tour guide in our own garden..) and great fun on the swings amongst the cherry trees. Afterwards, you could indulge in some truly yummy fish and chips on the High Street at Carlos’ (no queues in February) and waddle back to your motorhome full of better intentions.
We ended our trip in Kielder forest. There is so much to do here, it merits another blog all to itself. Kielder Observatory of course, boat trips in season and miles of walking and biking for all abilities on marked trails. You can hire bikes here, or from us at the beginning of your holiday. There’s a fuel station here, and campsites. We are members of the Camping and Caravanning Club who have two sites nearby and there is also the waterside site. Both are not open in the winter, but we stayed at the Boe Rigg farm site en route there, which has a small number of hard standing pitches as well as its own bar and bistro and newly refurbished showers. The drive over to Kielder and beyond is amazing – there are red squirrels to look out for, and we saw a zippy stoat, complete with his ermine coat, which made my holiday.
Northumberland is fantastic – we spent 5 days here, having amazing experiences, all within easy access from our base in Kinross.