Over the past few years, we’ve been trying to see as much of the UK and Europe during our trips. Being so far away during our RTW trip really made us appreciate how lucky we are to have some stunning destinations on our doorstep.

One of the most underrated parts of the UK is Northumberland, the neighbouring county to where I grew up in Newcastle.

Despite having some of the best beaches in the country and a phenomenal amount of history (complete with epic castles!) you can still find it to be fairly quiet most of the time.

Beach Dunes Holy Island

Deserted beach on Holy Island

After some action-packed trips this year we decided to use our final full week of holiday on a relaxing break in a cottage by the sea.

The plan for our week revolved mainly around beach walks, roaring fires, reading and pub meals. Pretty much my idea of heaven!

If you’re looking for a quiet break in the UK during the winter months I can’t recommend Northumberland enough.

I wanted to share some of our favourite activities and places to eat from our wonderful week and then let the photos do the talking. Do yourself a favour and book a trip when you can.

Paul Deaton

One of our cozy nights in front of the fire

Things to Do in Winter

Kielder Observatory

This has been on the bucket list for quite a while now. Kielder Forest Park is designated as the largest dark sky park in Europe.

Far from any population centre and just next to the Scottish border, night visits are particularly special if you really want to see the stars in all their glory.

An observatory was built in a remote hillside area of the park a few years ago and has quickly become one of the most popular attractions in Northumberland.

Stargazing at Kielder Observatory

By: Charlie Marshall

Unfortunately, on the night we were visiting it was very cloudy so we weren’t able to view the stars. However, the team in the observatory made the experience very enjoyable as we learnt all about how the Aurora Borealis actually forms and various mind-boggling facts about our galaxy.

If you’d like to attend a stargazing evening make sure to book a number of months in advance as it is extremely popular.

Grace Darling Museum

This is a charming little museum in Bamburgh which packs a lot into a small space. It’s free to get in but is managed by the RNLI so please leave a donation if you visit.

I thought only people from the north east had heard the story of the heroine Grace Darling but Paul assures me that this is not the case.

Grace Darling Museum Bambiurgh

The Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh

Grace’s father was a lighthouse keeper in the 1800s on the Farne Islands just off the coast near Bamburgh, she grew up on one of these remote islands.

When Grace was in her early 20s, she and her father famously rode out in their very small boat during a ferocious storm to rescue passengers of a shipwreck in the Farnes.

The museum tracks the family’s history in the north east and exactly what happened on the night of the shipwreck hour by hour.

The Grace Darling Boat

The actual boat that Grace and her father used for their rescue

Holy Island

The beautiful Holy Island of Lindisfarne is a must visit for anyone visiting Northumberland.

This tiny tidal island has a history dating from the 6th Century AD and was an important seat of early Christianity in the British Isles.

Aside from the swoon-worthy castle, gorgeous little town, epic sand dunes and priory ruins – the magic of this beautiful place stems from having to drive across a causeway from the mainland at low tide. It’s so close to the mainland but still completely cut off twice a day.

Boat sheds Holy Island

Old fishing boats converted into sheds on Holy Island

Harbour Holy Island Low Tide

The harbour at Holy Island at low tide

Holy Island can get incredibly busy during the summer months so it was wonderful visiting in November with hardly anyone there.

Holy Island Causeway Low Tide

Driving over the causeway at low tide

Craster and Dunstanburgh Castle

Craster is a small fishing village that is famously home to smoked kippers and an imposing castle. There are a couple of fantastic places to stop for a bite to eat and it makes a lovely place to spend an afternoon.

Craster Harbour Northumberland

Tiny Craster harbour

The walk from Craster Harbour to Dunstanburgh Castle is nice and easy on the edge of the coast but has the most wonderful views.

Dunstanburgh Castle from Craster

Dunstanburgh Castle from Craster

My top beaches for winter walks

Embleton

Embleton beach has everything going for it. It’s stunning, with views across the bay to Dunstanburgh Castle, and it has two excellent pubs within walking distance when you need to warm up.

There are lovely little beach hut cottages dotted along the dunes and every time I visit I wonder what it’s like to wake up to that incredible view.

Embleton Beach Northumberland

Embleton Dunes and one of the little holiday cottages

Bamburgh Dunes

The beaches at Bamburgh are vast and in winter they are quite often deserted. You have giant sand dunes in one direction and one of the most imposing and impressive castles in the country in the other.

On a clear day you can view the nearby Farne Islands that are just off the coast.

Bamburgh Beach Northumberland

The beach at Bamburgh, deserted on a Thursday afternoon

Bamburgh Castle Sunset

Bamburgh Castle at sunset

Ross Sands/Budle Bay

This was a completely new beach for me and for someone who grew up visiting this coast all the time, that’s pretty rare. We stayed in a hamlet at the head of Budle Bay and took a stroll one day up to Ross Sands.

Unspoilt and desolate, we saw one other couple walking their dog the whole time. If you want solitude head to this glorious white sand beach.

Ross Sands Northumberland

Ross Sands and the only other people we saw all afternoon

Places we enjoyed a good meal

The Joiners Arms – Newton-by-the-Sea

Lovely dog-friendly pub with a cracking Sunday roast and good service. If you are looking for a luxurious place to stay the rooms here look wonderful.

The Jolly Fisherman – Craster

We had a great fish platter one lunchtime in this cozy pub. It was full of walkers doing the Coastal Path and the bar area is dog-friendly.

The Boat Inn – Kielder Water

On our adventure to the Kielder Observatory we needed somewhere to grab a bite to eat beforehand. The staff were excellent and the pub grub was great.

Coastline Fish and Chips – Blyth

Without a doubt the greatest fish and chips I’ve ever had – it’s the first place we go when we’re back in the north east. Sit by the beach and tuck into to your fresh fish and chips, divine.

Paul Deaton

Paul collecting firewood in our back garden

Trip Information:

Location

We stayed in the tiny hamlet of Waren Mill, just north of Bamburgh and around 1 hour 15 minutes from Newcastle by car.

Cottage

We booked Avocet cottage through Northumbria Country Cottages.

Because our stay was in November, the weekly rate was heavily discounted. It has 3 bedrooms and a really cozy living room with a log burner.

Getting around

Although it’s possible to get to the main towns on bus or by train, you really need your own vehicle to get around in Northumberland.

Don’t forget to pin me!

Northumberland is the perfect destination for a winter break - check out our recommendations for beach walks, attractions, castles and cozy pubsNorthumberland is the perfect destination for a winter break - check out our recommendations for beach walks, attractions, castles and cozy pubs

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