Great family places to visit on the Northumberland coast, including Beadnell, Seashouses and Bamburgh
You can travel miles in search of the perfect family holiday but when you have an almost three-year-old in tow, the less time spent on the road the better.
So, when we were offered a stay at a luxury holiday cottage in Northumberland, a three-hour drive from East Yorkshire, we’d packed up the car before you could say “send me a postcard”.
We were guests of Coastal Retreats – award-winning specialists in self-catering accommodation in the area. Our home for four nights was a beautifully furnished three-bedroom cottage in Beadnell, a quiet village with a large sandy beach.
With check-in at 4.30pm, we spent our arrival day at nearby Alnwick, where we visited the gardens, which have a spectacular fountain, and the castle, which starred as Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter films.
It was an enjoyable, if expensive, day out, the highlight being lunch in the enchanting treehouse restaurant at the gardens.
FactfileContact: Call 0191 2851272 or visit www.coastalretreats.co.uk
On arrival at the cottage at tea-time, we instantly relaxed.
After letting ourselves in – the key was left in a secure pincode-controlled box outside – we headed straight for the kitchen, which we found stocked with food I had pre-ordered from Food Heaven (www.foodheaven.co.uk).
Their service offers the convenience of an online supermarket but showcases the best of local cuisine as well as a few familiar brands to supplement your shop.
I ordered top-quality locally produced meals such as lasagne and pizza, as well as sausages, burgers, bread, salad, cheese, jams and honey.
The fact that it was ready and waiting for us – even the wine was chilling in the fridge – was a real plus and took away the usual stress of self-catering.
After an easy start, we set off on foot early next morning to explore the area.
There was a small beach just a couple of minutes’ walk away but we pressed on to the bigger stretch of sand at the edge of the village.
There were no cliffs, just sandy dunes leading to a vast, breathtaking bay.
To our delight, our lad was waist-deep in the freezing-cold sea for half the time and digging up the beach for the rest.
We spent a happy few hours in the warm sunshine – yes, there has been some this summer – before heading back to our “holiday house” as our boy, Kasper, had named it. Equipped with toys and a neat little garden, there was plenty there to keep him amused.
With families in mind, Coastal Retreats rates each of its properties for child-friendliness and I defy anyone, with or without kids, not to find somewhere that appeals on its lovely website.
The next day we headed to Seahouses, a bustling seaside town from where we took a boat trip out to the Farne Islands. If you can stomach a bit of sea swell, this is a must.
We spotted seals, birds and snapped great views of the coastline on water that, as our captain put it, was “as clear as gin”.
The afternoon was spent eating fish and chips (like the Hairy Bikers, I also recommend Pinaccles) and ice cream, before taking in a round of crazy golf.
Our final day took us to Bamburgh Castle. It was interesting enough, but I can’t help feel you see the best of it for free from the beach below so I wouldn’t rush back.
We then headed south to Low-Newton-By-The-Sea and ended our stay on a real high with lunch at The Ship Inn.
This popular pub offers seafood such as lobster brought in fresh by fishermen walking straight from the water’s edge to the beach at the pub’s front, as well as locally brewed ale.
We ate fishcakes and crab sandwiches, only skipping the lobster because it was a cash-only operation and we were down to our last few notes.
The evening brought a couple of drinks in the sun in the pub garden yards from our door and ice cream on the beach as the sun began to set.
Our journey home was spent planning a return trip next summer and I look forward to many more holidays in the area as our boy grows up.