Enjoy sweeping beach views, quirky villages and empty roads
For a remote road trip, head 50km north of Newcastle, where the A1068 peels off from the A1 and makes a dart for the stunning Northumberland coast.
Robert Lundgren Jones of Lundgren Tours suggests you begin this 60km journey in the harbour village of Amble before reaching Warkworth where a magnificent ruined medieval castle stands above the river Coquet. A short walk upstream leads to views of a 14th century hermitage.
Drive north to reach the town of Alnmouth (pronounced ‘Alanmuth’), where parti-coloured houses are perched above the river Aln. Don’t miss the tiny Ferryman’s Hut, thought to be the smallest museum in the country. A huge empty beach sweeps below the east side of the village.
Just inland lies the town of Alnwick, which still boasts its medieval cobbled market square and gate house. The town is full of independent shops, including butchers, delicatessens and country clothing stores.
‘William the Conqueror gave Northumberland its independence as he realised its importance – it was so close to Scotland - and you still see that independence in the town today,’ says Robert.
A good example is Barter Books one of the largest second-hand bookshops in Europe, based in Alnwick’s former railway station. Whatever kind of novel or history book you are looking for, Barter Books probably has it. The store also has a superb café, with long-term favourites including cinnamon toast, served as long finger-slices of bread.
North of Alnwick the coastal drama escalates. ‘You have this vast variety of magnificent empty beaches,’ says Robert. ‘’The entire Northumberland coast is sitting on a bed of rock known as the great whinsill, a volcanic plateau.’
Places not to miss include the village of Craster, where you can pick up delicious smoked kippers from L Robson’s and Sons, Low Newton by the Sea with its delightful village green and fishermen’s cottages, the hauntingly beautiful Budle Bay and Lindisfarne (or Holy Island), which is separated from the mainland by a tidal causeway. Journey’s end is the Georgian town of Berwick-upon-Tweed: you can go no further north in England.