Northumbrian Coastal Path Dunstanburgh Castle

Northumberland Coastal Path (Craster to Bamburgh Castle)

Last weekend I walked fourteen of the sixty four miles of the Northumberland Coastal Path with friends Jenny, Karl and Taru. Jenny and Taru both have family holiday connections to the area and love it. So they cooked up the plan to visit for a weekend which would involve a good day’s walking. Taru sorted out the accommodation for us (the very cosy and well equipped Shepherd’s Nook cottage in North Charlton). Our group also included Anita and Bob – both not currently that well to do the walk itself, but thankfully well enough to enjoy the cafes and bookshops in Alnwick 🙂 We also had Brodie and Scout along for the weekend. Eight go mad in Northumberland.

Actually, it looked like Anita and Bob would be having the better day of it on the Saturday that we walked, as the weather forecast had been horrendous. As it turned out, we hugged the coast from Craster to Bamburgh Castle under a strand of cold, blustery but essentially dry skies of powder blue, mercury and silver.

northumberland coastal path Map of Craster to Bamburgh Castle walking route via Viewranger
Craster to Bamburgh Castle: route via Viewranger user Rick Ford. We actually walked more on the beach than this route suggests as the tide was so far out.

I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the walk. At times it was more tiring than a ‘flat’ coastal route might suggest. We traversed a lot of sand, which makes for constant flexing of your legs in a way that’s different to walking on hard surfaces. And it tired out Brodie dog around the twelve mile mark. She’s now about thirteen years old I think (a bit uncertain as she is a rescue dog, we adopted her when she maybe a year old) and longer walks are harder for her nowadays. It was great to see her on the beach though, albeit half-heartedly sniffing at seaweed rather than fetching (as giddy youngster Scout did).

 

Craster Harbour northumberland coastal path

Craster Harbour northumberland coastal path
Craster Harbour on a fresh winter day (our start point for the section of the Northumberland Coastal Path that we walked).
northumberland coastal path Dunstanburgh Castle
Scout (far) and Brodie (near) near Dunstanburgh Castle. The forecasts for grim weather were thankfully awry.
northumberland coastal path Dunstanburgh Castle
Taru and Jenny – Heading towards Dunstanburgh Castle
northumberland coastal path beach
Jenny and Taru head down to the shoreline, as the tide was well out. We spent much of the next few miles (where possible) on the beach as opposed to the higher ‘proper’ coastal path.
northumberland coastal path beach
Karl with the ever-energetic Scout

One of the things I enjoyed (apart from the company and unfolding great views on this rugged, picturesque coast) was spotting a whole range of coastal birds. I’m not a birder but I’ve come to enjoy spotting birds when I’m out and about, watching whatever their particular species likes to do on moor or mountain, stack or shoreline.

As for the section of the Northumbrian coastal path that we traversed: birds have been flying up and down the coast and to and from the Farne Islands for thousands of years. These have only been seabirds (and those peaks, islands) since the last ice age and the subsequent ‘recent’ inundation of Doggerland. Anyway, I spotted some striking (and new to me) birds on our walk, which my basic 50-250mm zoom lens managed to capture. Some are mentioned below.

northumberland coastal path beach hikers with geese above
The sky shifted from pewter to mercury-grey, washed with a palette of pale blues for most of the walk. Geese (if I remember right) heading north, ahead of us.
northumberland coastal path beach Dunstanburgh Castle
A heron that I spotted down on the foreshore, Dunstanburgh Castle now an hour or so behind us.
northumberland coastal path
Not fetching seaweed, no way.
Beadnell Harbour
The lovely (and compact) Beadnell harbour.
Black Turnstones near northumberland coastal path
As we got to Beadnell Harbour (great little harbour) my eye was caught by what (a couple of days later and some Googling/image searches) I think were ‘Black Turnstones’.
northumberland coastal path near Beadnell, Bar-tailed godwit
A ‘Bar-tailed Godwit’ (or maybe Black-tailed Godwit) on the shore near Beadnell. Identified when I posted a picture of it on Facebook by great photographer and wildlife enthusiast Malcolm (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nondesigner/ ). I then found a reference to them being seen near Beadnell, on another blog (https://chrisinburgundy.wordpress.com/tag/bar-tailed-godwit/)
northumberland coastal path near Seahouses, shore birds
Really not sure what these birds are – captured as we headed off the beach and onto the golf course (the path transects it) near Seahouses.
Northumberland Coastal path shoreline
One of the drawbacks to walking on the beach rather than on higher ground were the occasional rivers of water draining back to the sea. Karl and I made more of a meal of them than Jenny and Taru, it must be said.
Seahouses Harbour Northumberland
Heading into Seahouses (the harbour in view) with Bamburgh Castle ahead of us. The lure of seaside chips (to go with our pre-packed sarnies) beckoned.
Bamburgh beach Northumberland
A mile or so from Bamburgh (after thirteen miles of walking) and Brodie was dragging her feet. She’d just had a snack but not sure she looks too happy with me encouraging her on to the end point.

IMG_4288

Northumberland coastal path and Bamburgh Castle
Bamburgh Castle in the approaching dusk

This was the first time I’d walked any of the Northumberland coastal path but I’d happily walk the same section again or extend it up to Berwick, past Holy Island and Lindisfarne. There’s a lot of history in the area: mesolithic, neolithic, Celtic, roman, Viking and onwards. I do like a bit of human history (as opposed to just dates and facts), some insight into the people/s who are linked to a particular route or trail. More so, as I’ve gotten older and my schoolboy disinterest in history has evaporated.

And whilst I’m not religious there’s a lot of interesting history related to the Christian church in Northumbria. Which brings me (maybe clumsily) to a book I’ve been looking to mention:

 

10 thoughts on “Northumberland Coastal Path (Craster to Bamburgh Castle)

  1. Great photos! I went to Bamburgh as a teenager and adored it. So beautiful. Our dogs were less brave though! One foot in the sea and they were out again!

    • Cheers Kate, much appreciated. I was surprised Brodie took to the sea so well, she’d have stayed all day chasing waves I think 🙂

  2. Fantastic photos, Mark, it really gives a sense of the day. I’ve been meaning to take a trip up to Northumberland (a friend of mine reminds me every time I chat to him!) and seeing this really makes me want to move it up my list. I really like the contrast of the boats against the dark wet walls and dimmed sky. Thank you for the inspiration!

  3. This looks like a very cold but great walk. I am slowly piecing together the south west coast path, bit by bit! Happy memories of dive trips from Seahouses out to the Farnes were brought back with your pictures. One day I will get back there!

    • It was indeed a bit cold! I’d like to walk the south west coast path, another one on my (growing) list.
      You take fantastic photographs, btw 🙂

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