Linda Harrison stayed in the quirky Rising Sun holiday cottage Northumberland and discovered a county filled with historic castles, wild beaches and warm coastal pubs
The northernmost county in England, Northumberland is most definitely off the beaten track – and I wanted to immerse myself in the beauty and drama of the area with a stay at Rising Sun holiday cottage Northumberland.
Northumberland is beautiful, remote and very quiet – apparently, there are just 63 people per square km, compared to just over 400 in England as a whole.
It’s only a couple of hours’ drive from our home in North Yorkshire, but this was my first holiday in Northumberland. And there were a few things on my bucket list, in spite of the looming weather warning.
Our home for the duration of the holiday was Rising Sun holiday cottage, booked through Sykes Cottages. The quirky 18th century end-of-terrace cottage in Christon Bank, with its high ceilings exposed beams, once served as the village inn. Today, it has been lovingly restored as a holiday home complete with a woodburner. The kitchen and dining area lead out to a sweet private patio and enclosed garden via double French doors. The two bedrooms are immaculate, with comfy beds and plenty of storage. There’s off-road parking for two cars and lockable bike storage.
This quirky 18th century end-of-terrace cottage in Christon Bank once served as the village inn
Rising Sun was particularly good for us because it’s all arranged across the ground floor: we were staying with our two-and-a-half-year-old son, Harry, and it was brilliant not to have to worry about stairs. A travel cot and high chair were also provided.
Christon Bank, near Embleton, is a great base to explore Northumberland. Arriving on a Saturday afternoon in blazing sunshine, we were only a couple of miles from the coast, so hotfooted it over there for some sea air.
They really know how to do beaches in Northumberland. Unspoiled, empty, wild…and miles of white sand. Our nearest was at Low Newton-by-the-sea. Apart from some birds and early evening dog walkers, we had the crashing waves and sand dunes to ourselves.
Refreshed, we meandered back to light the woodburner and spent a lovely evening sprawled on the sofa with pizza and wine.
After being woken by an energetic dawn chorus, we drove to nearby Alnwick Castle and Gardens.
The castle is really impressive (it was Hogwarts in Harry Potter and Brancaster Castle in Downton Abbey) and the gardens are just gorgeous. The star attraction was the Grand Cascade, a huge water feature from the 1850s.
Sadly, the weather forecast warned us things were about the change for the worse and, sure enough, next morning the sheep at the back of the garden were huddling against lashing rain.
Determined not to miss Bamburgh beach, we drove to the coast. By the time we arrived, so had the winds – and when they hail from the north-east, they pack a punch. We bravely fought our way onto the sand, looked up at the impressive ruins of Bamburgh Castle, then legged it to the car.
We’d heard great things about the Jolly Fisherman, a few miles along the coast in the village of Craster and we were soon admiring the harbour and feasting on crab sandwiches (they’re famous for them). The beef dripping chips were pretty spectacular too – and all for under a tenner each, which appealed to the northerner in me. We didn’t want to leave, but an eager queue was building for tables.
On our last morning, as the sun reappeared, we waved goodbye to Rising Sun and took a detour home via historic Cragside, a National Trust property about an hour inland.
The house is the former home of Victorian inventor Lord Armstrong and was the first building in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. There are acres of woodland, lakes and gardens and as we drove away, the house rising dramatically out of the rocky hillside amid towering trees, it all felt very Bond-like.
At the end of our trip, we felt we’d only seen a fraction of what Northumberland has to offer. We plan to head back, ticking off a few more items on that bucket list.
How to get to Rising Sun holiday cottage Northumberland without flying
The village of Christon Bank is eight miles north east of the market town of Alnwick. The nearest train station is Almouth (for Alnwick) on the East Coast line – it’s about 3.5 hours from London Kings Cross. From there, it’s best to book a taxi.
Alternatively, by car, it’s around six-hours from London, three and a half hours from Manchester and two and a half hours from Glasgow.
Contact Visit Northumberland for more information.
Linda booked her trip with Sykes Cottages: it has thousands of holiday cottages to rent across the UK and Ireland.
Words: Linda Harrison for Feet on the Ground
Images: Linda Harrison/Alnwick Castle/Bamburgh Castle