A few weekends ago I spent a long weekend in Alnwick and the Northumbrian coast with my partner in crime. Despite the chilly weather we had a smashing time having some much needed R&R.
Just around the corner from Barter Books, that very famous second hand bookshop home of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, we stayed in a delightful and sympathetically renovated holiday cottage kindly loaned to us by friends who were overseas on holiday.
Set just off the High Street, with free parking, this was a perfect base offering all home comforts and more besides. For those not so lucky to have such friends Coquet Cottages have luxury holiday cottages in Northumberland.
It’s a few years since I’ve been to Northumberland but I have fond memories of visits and a couple of the old favourites did not disappoint.
My friends left a comprehensive list of local places to eat. Alnwick had several recommended take aways but we loved the Origami Café. This is an original bright and fun tearoom run by a charming young woman with a lovely friendly manner. Tea and cakes were delicious. So much more interesting than a chain coffee shop.
Low Newton by the Sea was somewhere I had been a few years ago. A perfect lunch time stop after a walk along the beach gathering shells is The Ship Inn. The crab sarnies and smoked Craster kipper pate are the best. And they have their own micro-brewery.
Further along the coast at Boulmer. Now that is an understated and laid back village, all locals and few tourists, recommended was the Fishing Boat Inn.
This unassuming inn is on the seafront at Boulmer and hides a thrilling and shady past stretching back centuries. It was once the hub of a thriving smuggling trade, but today it has a lovely conservatory opening directly onto the beach where the best (north of the Tyne!) locally caught fish and chips are served. Our tea there was amazing, dining on the edge of a calm North Sea, with the reflection of a brilliant sunset and dazzled by displays of Sanderlings en route to or from their high Arctic breeding grounds.
We chose to have Sunday lunch at the famous Tree House in Alnwick. The Treehouse Restaurant is in a unique magical and stunning setting, high up in the treetops, with a roaring log fire in the centre of the room and tress growing through the floor.
We were slightly disappointed. Given the media hype about the place, maybe our expectations were high. The chairs were uncomfortable, mediocre tepid food. You certainly pay for the quirky surroundings.
Time ran out for us to visit the Running Fox in Longframlington, maybe next time….
The sun did decide to grace us with her presence so we spent most of the time out and about along the coast and enjoying the surroundings of Alnwick.
Highlights have to be Low Newton by the Sea and the beach walk towards Dunstanburgh Castle, and on towards Boulmer.
A surprise find was Eleanor’s Byre, near Embleton, a small but very lovely, deeply gorgeous shop, straight out of Farrow and Ball, selling an eclectic mix of beautiful merchandise much of it handmade by talented artists and artisans from all over the UK. And a lovely tea shop of course.
The reason for going to Alnwick was really to go to Alnwick Garden, but as it was early in the season we were too early for the blossom and tulips.
But we enjoyed the tour of the poison garden where you come face to face with some of the world’s most poisonous plants and enjoyed the quite exaggerated stories about how plants have killed and cured over the ages.
The centrepiece of Alnwick Garden is the Grand Cascade, a magnificent tumbling mass of water, ending in an eruption of fountains sending 350 litres of water into the air with displays every half hour. This garden is the vision of The Duchess of Northumberland and she is quite the commercial goddess!!
We had a lovely surprise where round a corner lay an enormous display of daffodils leading towards the magical Alnwick Castle.
If we had more time we would have gone up the coast to Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle.
Maybe next time…..
Does anyone have any gems they’d like to share on the Northumberland Coast? Any favourite eateries or places to stay in the area surrounding Alnwick?