As a child and into my early adult life the furthest North I travelled was to Whitby, and this area was a family favourite. The stretch of coast between Robin Hoods Bay and Sandsend supplied me with many happy memories.
It was not until Tammy took the brave decision to take part in the Great North Run that I saw the splendour of the area around South Shields that made me want more. Dropping Tammy off at the start line to do the run I took the easy option of staying on the coach organised by Derby Runner, derbyrunner.co.uk to the National Trust Car Park at Souter Lighthouse just South of the finish line made me want more.
For this route we will take the drive from Middlesbrough along the coastline to Berwick Upon Tweed. The route itself is around 110 miles long and if going A – B would take around 2 hours. However, with so much to see and do and detour to other locations, you can easily add more on.
You may be surprised at the starting point being Middlesbrough as I always imagined this to be heavily industrialised, it is, however the coastal road also offers many areas of outstanding beauty.
The caravan club site at Tees Barrage www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/north-east-england/county-durham/white-water-park-caravan-club-site is a good place to start your tour.
Initially leave Middlesbrough on the A66 towards Transporter Bridge and then the A178 Seaton Carew Road towards Hartlepool. A trip to see HMS Trincomalee at The National Museum of The Royal Navy www.nmrn.org.uk/our-museums/national-museum-royal-navy-hartlepool is well worth a visit. HMS Trincomalee is the oldest warship still afloat in Europe.
Upon leaving Hartlepool take the A1096 towards Peterlee and Seaham. The beach in Seaham is not overly exciting other than for the fact it is popular with sea-glass hunters looking for relics from the nearby bottle works, which closed in 1921.
From Seaham, take the coast road towards Sunderland, the B1287 this relatively short stretch of road offers some lovely walks along the beach.
At Sunderland’s National Glass Centre you will have the opportunity to research the history of the glass works in the region www.sunderlandculture.org.uk/our-venues/national-glass-centre Here you can watch glassblowers create vibrant coloured bottles that grow before your eyes.
Did you know Sunderland was one of the UK’s most-bombed cities during the blitz?
Thanks to Sunderland’s reputation as one of the biggest and busiest shipbuilding ports in the UK, it became a prime target during World War Two. The shipyards produced approximately a quarter of all the UK’s tonnage of ships during the war.
Leave Sunderland by the A1018 and A183 for more coastal wanderings and the lovely Souter Lighthouse www.nationaltrust.org.uk/souter-lighthouse-and-the-leas.
Park in the National Trust Car Park and walk past the lighthouse and along the coastal path towards South Shields and perhaps consider lunch at Marsden Rock in The Grotto, a bar and restaurant which is built into the cliff face www.marsdengrotto.com
The last stage of this route before hitting the City of Newcastle Upon Tyne is the small town of South Shields. The beaches are fabulous and there are plenty of campsites such as : –
Sandhaven Holiday Park, www.campsites.co.uk/search/campsites-in-tyne-and-wear/south-shields/sandhaven-holiday-park
Or on the North side of Newcastle, Old Hartley Caravan Club Site
I will pick up our journey on the North side of Newcastle in the town of Tynemouth, I will leave it in your capable hands of how you want to visit the City, or simply pass it by.
The stretch up to Berwick Upon Tweed is a treasure chest of riches, beautiful harbours, stunning castles and beaches for everyone.
Head out of Tynemouth on the A193 through the resort town of Whitley Bay and it’s promenade. Just north is St Mary’s Island with its lighthouse dating back to 1898.
The road North is not that straightforward and you may well find yourself, to save time utilising some of the main roads such as the A1, the A189 and the A1068 but I would recommend dipping into the villages of Blyth, Newbiggin-by-The -Sea, Lynmouth, Cresswell, Druridge Bay Country Park and Amble.
After Druridge Bay, if you fancy a change from beaches. Castles may be your thing and you have an option of three stunning castles to choose from.
Head in land slightly to the A1 and visit the iconic Alnwick Castle, home to many Harry Potter inspired events and activities www.alnwickcastle.com
Stick to the coastal route you will come to Dunstanburgh Castle with its dramatic location on a remote headland. The castle is now owned by the English Heritage www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/dunstanburgh-castle
The castle is reached by a 1.3 mile walk from the village of Craster which only adds to its mysterious and rugged surroundings.
The walk along nearby Embleton Bay also gives jaw dropping views of this unique castle.
The third and final castle in this area is the incredible Bamburgh Castle. Set at the top of the duned beaches of Bamburgh.
The best route into the castle is by following the B1340 from Embleton and follow your nose passing through Benthall and Beadnell and Seahouses, which in itself is a quaint little fishing village with a lovely harbour.
Bamburgh Castle www.bamburghcastle.com/castle has stood guard over the Northumberland coast for well over 1,400 years and is described on their website as a Royal Fortress, Norman Stronghold and Coastal Home.
In 2019, we were silly enough to take Scouts form www.1staltonmanorscouts.org.uk to Edinburgh and stopped off at Bamburgh on the way. They had a ball playing in the sand dunes and loved every minute of it.
Having exhausted castles, the last stop on the journey is Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve and Holy Island. The island has a population of just 160 people and access is via a paved causeway twice every 24hrs www.lindisfarne.org.uk. Here you can visit the 12th century Priory, the epicentre of Christianity during Anglo Saxon times. The island also saw an invasion of Vikings in 793AD which began the Viking Age.
A great place to end your journey is the Berwick Seaview Caravan Park www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/north-east-england/northumberland/berwick-seaview-caravan-club-site where you can sit back, put the kettle on and get your feet up.Northumberland is a vastly underrated area and this article only skims the surface. For more information we would strongly recommend such websites as www.visitnorthumberland.com.