Seahouses for yourself coastal retreat's enduring endearing appeal

Brit staycationers can best blow away Brexit blues by conquering north face of our own scenic coastline.

By Chris Page, Digital First Team
Friday, 15 March, 2019, 16:32
Seahouses briny bolthole beckons

Ssshhh but, as shoreline sanctuaries go, generally undiscovered Northumberland continues as unsurpassed secret escape.

Set your family break compass to England's most northerly county, far from the madding crowd, where there's nowhere better for best bitter and battered fish dishes, relaxing rambles and iconic castles.

Family friendly Bamburgh Castle Inn

Where to stay: Some hotels' claim to be "stone throw's away from the sea" would labour Hercules. Not so Bamburgh Castle Inn, Seahouses shore-fire success, perched prime position like a harbour-side gull.

Warm welcome awaits walkers, cyclists, even pets, at recently refurbished annexe-added venue, complete with 46 en-suite rooms, some boasting balconies, whose guests enjoy free parking, Wi-Fi and complimentary use of nearby Seafield Ocean Club’s fantastic fitness facilities featuring superb spa and pristine pool.

Leanne Jeffrey is perfect front-of-house brand ambassador, the genial ?general ?manager? ??branding Montana ranch cattle when not steering ?staff?, attentive and affable in ?equal? ?engaging measure?. Reinforcing multi-award winning parent company The Inn Collection Group's "eat, drink, sleep ... and explore" ethos, this accommodating anchorage is true to its inspiring tag-line.

Call me Al Fresco but elevated beer garden, serving second to none vistas alongside fine food and drink, is ambrosia of the gods. Panoramic views are also available within, where fabled carvery's recipe for success centres on colossal Yorkshire puddings, sharing menu with home-cooked daily specials celebrating best locally sourced seasonal shellfish and game, as well as inclusive breakfasts to start day in most satisfying way.

"King of Castles" Banburgh

Bar staff pull out all the stops - and hand pumps - to ensure Casque Mark acclaimed cellar craft ales are as welcome as any port - also available among extensive wine list - in a storm. Warming "hug in a mug" comes in welcoming recipe for success shape of speciality loose leaf teas and aromatic coffees. And so to bed, lulled by sleep-inducing lap of North Sea waves and comforting flash of famous Longstone lighthouse.

Not for nothing is it North East England Tourism Awards gold standard, bosses only this month confirmed UK’s best pub employer at Publican industry Oscars. Similar stylish surrounds are also available at sister sites The Lindisfarne Inn, Beal; The Hog’s Head Inn, Alnwick; The Amble Inn, Amble; The Commissioners Quay Inn, Blyth; The Seaton Lane Inn, Seaton; The Kingslodge Inn, Durham; The King’s Head Inn, Newton under Roseberry; The Waterhead Hotel, Coniston.

Where to go: Inn guests enjoy discount admission to most towering of edifices. Centre stage to nine-acre rocky plateau, inhabited since 10,000 BC, Bamburgh remains among country's most landmark, moreover biggest, inhabited castles. Locals are loathe to gainsay Anglo-Saxon chronicler citing the Northumbria stronghold "probably the most important place in all of England" whose fabled folklore includes likelihood of being Round Table knight Sir Lancelot's "Joyous Garde" base.

These guests don't disagree, marvelling at the fortress's medieval magnificence. Blessed by presence of such saints as Oswald, Aidan and Cuthbert, Normans and Wars of the Roses followed before buildings became foremost surgery as well as sick and poor patients' dispensary. Modern-day visitors are today richer thanks to Armstrong family who continue to ensure such archaeological treasures as well appointed kitchen, awe-inspiring King’s Hall and affluent stables remain must-see gems in the keep's crown, whose Neville Tower holiday home offers opportunity for we commoners to live like kings and queens.

Banburgh Castle Inn crowd enjoy finest fare

Film star since vaudevillian Harry Lauder almost a century ago trod the boards - rather battlements - in Huntingtower, its lofty ramparts played their part in Roman Polanski's brutally blood-thirsty re-imagining of Shakespeare's Macbeth within months of Ken Russell's controversial cult classic The Devils, to recent live action Roald Dahl's BFG and, robots battling on expansive beachhead, Transformers: The Last Knight. During breaks from blockbuster Becket, same sand dunes saw showbiz royalty Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor riding ... some say romping!

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty visitors can do no better than make Seahouses their holiday home. Working fishing port, alive as Red Codling and Coal Fish populating its choppy waters, the vantage point village offers gateway to celebrated natural historian Sir David Attenborough-endorsed Farne Islands adventure, awash with seals, Scuba divers and 23 varieties of seabirds at every tern. And puffin. Some 37,000 pairs at latest count.

"Cradle of Christianity" Lindisfarne, aka Holy Island, links to mainland via three-mile Pilgrim's Path paved causeway, ineffectual as King Cnut to tidal ebb and flow. Current lifeboat is testament to have-a-go Grace Darling, lighthouse keeper's daughter whose derring-do helped save nine crew rescued from 1838 floundering, then foundered, Forfarshire paddle steamer.

Watering holes include surf-view salt-splashed The Black Swan, beamed ceiling briny bolthole for 186 years, while warming coals also await at The Olde Ship Inn, saloon coloured by stained glass windows. Protected pride of place on the bar is Prince Charles's tankard from 2012 right royal patronage.

Bamburgh Castle brings past alive in style

Decking-floored The Cabin snug veritable maritime museum, festooned with miniature fishing vessels and figure heads, best savoured with flagon or three of Hadrian Border Brewery's best. Nautical but nice! Then there's Coxons Coffee Bar ice cream, reportedly favoured by certain Robson Golightly Green, star of TV classic Soldier Soldier.

Craster is kipper central, its rocky shore within shadow of Dunstanburgh Castle, 14th century fortification steeped in legend of Sir Guy the Seeker, complete with swords, hunting horns, valiant knight, welcoming wizard, distressed damsel, crystal tomb and slumbering army, all redolent of Disney-Pixar storyboard.

Stone quarries and basaltic cliffs abound around this area but this coastal retreat remains best known for herring-curing family business, aromatic smokehouses true to oak barrelled traditions forged over a century ago. And well worth a walk - sideways to suit - are Jolly Fisherman Inn's celebrated crab sandwiches.

Befuddled out-of-towners (we know who we are!) unsure how to pronounce Alnwick need not panic ... it' being rhyming "Anik". What's crystal clear is cobbled staging post's rich heritage, exemplified by Bailiffgate Museum, breathing life anew into past people and places. "Windsor of the North" castle will spellbind Harry Potter film fans - broomstick training optional - as magical Hogwarts location.

Capability Brown grounds resonate with history from Harry Hotspur's exploits to grisly Gunpowder Plot. Alongside burgeons blooming brilliant Alnwick Garden, fairy tale setting of reputedly world’s largest tree house, while pot of fragrantly flavoured tea can celebrate nearby Howick Hall's Earl Grey.

History advises of 1093 death of Malcolm III of Scotland here, home town to another accomplished arrowsmith in guise of great, also late, voice of TV darts "Thief of Bad Gags" Sid Waddell.

Seahouses Black Swan inn's window on watery world

Fact file: The Bamburgh Castle Inn, Seahouses, Northumberland, NE68 7SQ, 01665 720 283, enquiries@bamburghcastleinn.co.uk, www.bamburghcastlehotel.co.uk

Lindisfarne proves atmospheric nautical backdrop
Kippers aka The Queen's favourite breakfast
Picture postcard cobble-streeted Alnwick
Sign of excellence: Bamburgh Castle Inn
Page in the court of noblemen