Beautiful Bamburgh

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Beautiful Bamburgh and its castle

Northumberland has about 70 castles, more than any other county in England. The iconic Bamburgh Castle, perched on high,  is one of the most impressive. It looks over one of the most spectacular beaches on this coast.

The historic capital of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, Bamburgh Castle is believed to have been occupied for over 10,000 years. It evolved from a wooden palisade to the formidable fortress it is today. This was the first castle in England to fall to canon fire as the Wars of the Roses drew to a close.

Beautiful Bamburgh Castle

The story of Bamburgh

Under the ownership of the Forster family, the castle gradually fell into disrepair. It became little more than a ruin. The process of restoration began in the 18th century when it came under the ownership of Lord Nathaniel Crewe, Bishop of Durham.

The Lord Crewe Trust rebuilt much of the village and created a ‘welfare state’ for the inhabitants. It provided a school, a dispensary, a hospital and a coastguard service. There was also a lifeboat and a welfare centre for the shipwrecked mariners.

Beachside wildflowers

Saving souls from the sea.

Bamburgh was one of the world’s first ‘coastguard’ stations. It also developed and tested of the World’s first ‘lifeboat’.

In 1894 the Castle, village and estate lands was sold to Lord Armstrong of Cragside, who devoted much of his later life to the restoration of the castle. It is still, in fact, owned by the Armstrong family. The family play an active part in its operation and maintenance.

Castle living room

The magnificent restoration of the castle has made it a major tourist attraction. A visit is a fun afternoon out. Displayed are furniture, art, and artifacts from different stages of the castle’s history, including exercise books from when the castle was a school for local children.

The dungeon is always popular and a few sad wax prisoners languish there in the darkness. The armoury is full of deadly looking weapons with vicious pikes, bayonets, knives and guns. There are some impressive suits of armour too. The Clock tower Coffee Shop serves light meals and a delicious cream tea with scones jam and cream.

Ready to fight!

From Bamburgh to Seahouses

Just three miles along coastline, is the next village of Seahouses. Seahouses is a lively fishing port and popular seaside holiday resort for families. This is the spot to eat your fish and chips, buy your bucket and spade, your fridge magnets and your postcards.

This is also where you can take a boat trip from the harbour out to the Farne Islands in the summer time. You will see huge numbers of breeding sea birds, and perhaps the large colony of Grey Seals that live here too.

Set sail to the Farne Islands

You land on some of the islands when the weather is fair, but we took a Billy Shiels Seal cruise which took around one and half hours. The boat, Glad Tidings the fifth, sailed around all of the islands giving good views of the nesting birds on the cliff faces. We did see some Grey Seals at several vantage points along the way.


Farne Island seals

There are an estimated 3 to 4 thousand Seals at the Farne Islands. Large numbers can be counted basking on the rocks, especially at low water when more of the Islands are exposed.  With over a thousand Seal pups born each Autumn the colony is growing strong.

These are large animals with big bull heads and are actually quite a rare species.  When we sailed the tide was high, so we saw the seals in the water mainly, with their heads peeping out. We did see huge numbers of breeding Guillemots. They perch the rocks or bob in the ocean with their funny white spectacles.

Are you looking at me?

Puffins on the Farnes

The much loved Puffins were there, so pretty with their bright markings and red bills and feet. They are quite small birds and  they look like they have been wound up like clockwork when they fly, with their little stubby wings. We saw Razor Bills and Shags and Terns, a few Gannets. A large flock of Canada geese took off from the sea as we approached them.

We stayed at the Sunningdale Hotel in Bamburgh village. It is an independent, family run hotel with 21 rooms. The hotel is in a great location. The original buildings which are now the hotel, were actually used as a camp for prisoners of war during WWI and WW2.

Welcome to the Sunningdale Hotel

The hotel is in the middle of Bamburgh village, just 5 minutes walk from Bamburgh Castle. Just a stone’s throw from the stunning beach and rolling dunes of fine yellow sand. The Sunningdale is both a child friendly and a dog friendly hotel. You may well be greeted at reception by Barnaby the standard Poodle, who is the very sociable family pet.

Kipper pate – yum!

Many of the rooms have lovely views out over the Northumberland countryside. Bed and breakfast are on offer as well as dinner in the restaurant for residents only. The Sunningdale Hotel is a friendly and unpretentious place to stay in a great location on this fabulous coast.

Sleep at the Sunningdale Hotel