What to do
Using Bamburgh as a base there are many noteworthy places of interest within a half hours drive. The historic market town of Alnwick boasts a magnificent Castle and the world famous Alnwick Gardens with the fabulous treehouse and water features. Alnwick also holds annual music festivals and fairs where customs from the middle ages are re-enacted and the local population dress in costumes of the period.
The ruins of former greatness at Dunstanburgh and Warkworth must appeal to the historian. The lovely castle at Chillingham has recently opened to the public, and a visit there can be combined with a sighting of the famous herd of Wild White Cattle. Wooler and Rothbury, pleasant small towns nestling in the foothills of the Cheviots; the Ingram and College Valleys, running further into the hills (wonderful for picnics). Cragside, home of the first Lord Armstrong, with its beautiful lake and rhododendron covered grounds, now owned by the National Trust, and visited by many thousands each year. The lovely gardens and stately homes of Howick Hall, the Hirsel and Manderson Floors Castle (Castle Greystoke in the Tarzan film). The Border towns of Kelso, Coldstream and Berwick. the latter especially deserving a visit.
A little further afield, a trip to the beautiful abbey in the market town of Hexham combines well with a visit to Vindolanda and Hadrian’s Wall, or Keilder Forest and reservoir, the latter being the largest man-made lake in Europe. If shopping cannot be avoided, the Eldon Centre at Newcastle, and the Metro Centre at Gateshead are only an hour away, both only a few miles from the open air Beamish Museum where a visit is a step back in time. Or, if you feel like heading north and have remembered your phrase book, half an hour will bring you to the Scottish Border, another hour into Princess Street in the heart of Edinburgh — such a lot to see and do...
As already mentioned, the local course is quite outstanding, and less than a mile from our door, a recent article in the golf section of a national newspaper awarded Bamburgh the accolade of having the ‘most interesting and picturesque golf course in the British Isles’. The course at Seahouses, recently extended to 18 holes and much improved in the past few years, is three miles away. A driving range and golf course have recently opened at Belford and a little further down the coast Dunstanburgh, Warkworth and Alnmouth Village all have pleasant links courses. Foxton Hall, perhaps unique in being set almost on the edge of the sea, but having lush parkland turf, is magnificent by any standard. There is a delightful little course overlooking the old town of Alnwick but stamina and accuracy are required here to cope with the hills and trees. Inland, Rothbury provides a pleasant flat course alongside the river Coquet. Wooler, against the Cheviot Hills, its club resurrected and course re-located after a lapse of some forty years, has a dual appeal: There is seldom a queue on the first tee and it has the lowest green fees in the area.
Returning to the coast, Goswick, a few miles south of Berwick is an old links course and a true test for the better golfer. Magdalene Fields, on the edge of Berwick, is another course and which has recently been extended to eighteen holes is not quite the challenge of Goswick, but still quite high on the Richter scale of scoring difficulty. The Hirsel. at Coldstream, is perhaps the most pleasant of all for a lazy afternoon’s golf and provides a truly beautiful setting in parkland adjoining the country home of a former Prime Minister.
There are several fascinating walks in the immediate area each with beautiful scenery on every side. A number of excellent books have been written on the subject, the best of which are provided for planning a suitable route.
This part of the world is blessed with being able to offer an abundance of species and beautiful habitats in which they can be viewed. The nature reserve at Budle Bay is only two miles away where geese, duck and waders can be observed from the comfort of your car. For those a little more dedicated virtually any section of the coast from Craster to Holy Island will provide excellent viewing. The R.S.P.B. publication ‘Bird Watching in Northumberland’ says ‘From the busy little harbour at Seahouses, along the shore to Bamburgh and its magnificent castle, this stretch of coast offers some of the finest bird watching in Britain.”
It goes on to mention some twenty more locations in the county, which warrant — almost demand — a visit. Attractive though these venues are, should other interests restrict the time available, the one that must not be missed is the boat trip to the Farne Islands. This internationally famous sanctuary is home to a vast number of sea birds and a much-favored staging post during migratory flights.