The Northumberland Coastal Path meanders past windswept beaches, rocky headlands and dramatic ruins steeped in history. Here is our pick of the best short walks along the Northumberland Coast.
Stretching from Cresswell in the South to Berwick-upon-Tweed in the north, the Northumberland Coastal Path passes through an assortment of classic coastal scenery. Sweeping golden beaches, windswept grassy dunes, and crumbling castles perched on rocky headlands.
It’s a delightful, often under-visited seaside region in the country with a host of wonderful experiences, where real villages revolve around the schedule of the fishing trade and pubs serve locally brewed ales.
The entire Northumberland Coastal Path takes between 3 to 6 days to complete. But if you don’t have that sort of time, it’s entirely possible to complete some of the best sections on shorter day walks.
Most of these walks use the Northumberland Coastal Path at some point, but to create interesting circular walks, some head inland via grand stately homes or mighty castles.
Each can be completed in under 4 hours and none of them are particularly challenging. They are much more about savouring the experience of the Northumbrian coast, than physical endurance. And of course like almost all of our hikes they involve pitstops in grand old pubs or cool cafes.
We have included detailed maps for each hike, recommendations for what to see and do, plus where to stay. All in all, everything you need to have great days out exploring the Northumberland Coast.
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1 – BAMBURGH & BUDLE BAY WALK
Difficulty – Easy | Distance – 7 kilometres | Time – 2 hours | Start – Bamburgh Links Road Car Park | Directions – Anti-clockwise on our Bamburgh Budle Bay Walk Map
The centrepiece of this lovely circular Northumberland coastal walk is mighty Bamburgh Castle. Soaring above the windswept dunes and crashing waves, this imposing edifice has stood the test of time for almost 1,000 years.
The walk begins at Bamburgh Links Road Car Park and heads across the undulating dunes to a magnificent beach. From here, it follows the Northumberland Coastal Path over the cliff tops around Budle Bay, before tracking back across a golf course and along the road into Bamburgh village.
There are numerous opportunities for excellent photos of the castle and bay, and the island of Lindisfarne shimmers in the distance. Upon returning into town, stop in at the Grace Darling Museum and the churchyard in which she rests.
There’s a row of pubs on the Bamburgh high street to stop for a pint. For a coffee pick-me-up, head to The Hut hidden in the car park behind the dunes.
OUR BAMBURGH WALK TIP
Go on a Sunday in summer and you may get the quintessential English scene of cricket being played right under the castle walls.
2 – LINDISFARNE CIRCULAR WALK
Difficulty – Easy | Distance – 9 kilometres | Time – 2 hours 40 minutes | Start – Holy Island Chare Ends Car Park | Directions – Clockwise on our Lindisfarne Walk Map
In 635 AD Saint Aidan made the journey from Iona and founded a new monastery on the island of Lindisfarne. Over the centuries it would become a celebrated place of Christian learning. Today, the remnants of this ancient life provide intriguing focal points on a lovely Northumberland coastal walk.
Start at the Holy Island Chare Ends Car Park and head across the island to the northern coast. From here it’s simply a matter of heading clockwise along the shore. The first half is set in the Holy Island Nature Reserve where undulating dunes drop down to golden beaches. We have marked our recommended route on the map below, but as long as you stick near the coast, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the beach or up in the dunes.
Two-thirds of the way around you come to Lindisfarne Castle. Built in 1550, it’s set on a tiny rock rising above sheep-strewn fields. There’s a small harbour behind the castle, then a small climb brings you to Heugh Hill with views over the surrounding coast. Finally, the path brings you to Lindisfarne village where you will find the ancient, ruined priory and the more recently constructed church.
After the walk grab a coffee at Pilgrims Coffee House or sample the Lindisfarne Mead – a unique alcoholic fortified wine manufactured on the island.
OUR LINDISFARNE WALK TIP
The Causeway to Lindisfarne Island is tidal and is impassable at high tide. Make sure you check the safe crossing times and give yourself plenty of time to cross the causeway, complete the walk and then return before the tide rises again. View crossing times here.
3 – CRASTER, DUNSTANBURGH & LOW NEWTON WALK
Difficulty – Easy to Medium | Distance – 13 kilometres return | Time – 3 hours 30 minutes | Start – Craster Quarry End Car Park | Direction – Craster to Dunstanburgh return map
This stunning walk is centred around the magnificent ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle. From the north it looks little more than a few remnants of wall reaching for the sky. But from the south, this huge defensive fortress looks much more foreboding and provides one of the most photographic sites in Northumbria.
The linear walk begins in Craster, a cute fishing village, and visits many of our favourite places in Northumberland. It heads north along the Northumberland Coastal Path with stunning views of Dunstanburgh. After 30 minutes you will have reached the castle and could easily turn around and head back to complete a satisfying 1 hour walk. But there’s more to see further on.
The golden sweep of Embleton Bay is one of the most gorgeous beaches along the Northumberland Coast. Low Newton – about 90 minutes after you start – is a tiny village with an excellent pub, The Ship Inn. They brew three types of ales, the Indian Summer, Newton Gold and Squid Ink.
You can either head back the way you came or walk up to High Newton and catch the bus back to Craster. However, be aware that the bus only goes once every two hours (and not on Sundays), so either plan ahead or just stay longer in the pub.
OUR CRASTER TO DUNSTANBURGH TIP
The Jolly Fisherman in Craster has an excellent terrace overlooking the sea. End the walk by dining on Lindisfarne Oysters or Craster Kippers while watching the sun go down.
4 – CRASTER & HOWICK HALL CIRCULAR WALK
Difficult – Easy to Medium | Distance – 11-kilometre return | Time – 3 hours | Start – Craster Quarry End Car Park | Directions – Anti-clockwise on our Craster & Howick Hall Walk
This is an extremely varied and scenic circular walk that explores the Northumberland Coastal path to the south of Craster. It begins by heading inland over a patchwork of fields, rocky outcrops, and wooded valleys before arriving at Howick Hall.
At Howick Hall you have a choice. Pay to go in and explore the gardens, before making your way downstream along the river and exiting the grounds near the coast. Alternately, skip the gardens and go around them via the road (the purple path on the map).
If you head into Howick Hall (the ancestral home of Lord Grey) take an extra hour to explore the gardens and try a cup of Earl Grey tea. The tea was specifically blended by a Chinese mandarin for the 2nd Earl Grey, apparently to suit the water in the well at Howick.
Read Next — Things to do in Northumberland
After the hall, it’s a glorious walk back along the Northumberland Coastal Path. Visit the secluded cove of Sugar Sands, perfect for a dip on a hot day, or take a break on the rocky outcrops of Rumbling Kern and look for sea creatures in the pools.
The walk conveniently ends by passing through the terrace at the Jolly Fisherman, so there’s no going out of your way for a post-walk beer or a locally caught fish.
OUR CRASTER & HOWICK HALL WALK TIP
If you intend to enter Howick Hall, you must complete this walk anti-clockwise since you need to buy an entrance ticket from the ticket office before entering the grounds. Make sure you arrive during opening hours.
5 – INNER FARNE ISLANDS
Difficulty – Easy | Distance – 0.75 kilometres | Time – 30 minutes | Start – Inner Farne Islands | Directions – Follow the laid-out path on the island.
The Farne Islands are one of the richest bird wildlife places on the planet and although this barely classifies as a walk, its is well worth completing.
Boat tours out to the island last two to three hours visiting seal colonies and bird ladened cliffs before landing on the shore for one hour allowing you to stroll around. It may only be a short walk, but what a walk it is. A carefully cut path meanders around nesting birds allowing you can get up close to razorbills, puffins, shags, guillemots, and a whole host more.
It’s simply one of the best things to do in Northumberland which is at its peak during the bird nesting season from April to July.
OUR INNER FARNE ISLANDS TIP
This is a great location for photographing birds in their natural habitat. Bring a telephoto lens, a tripod and a very steady hand.
Read Next — Where to stay in Northumberland
6 – ALNMOUTH CIRCULAR WALK
Difficult – Easy | Distance – 4.5 kilometres | Time – 1 hour 20 minutes | Start – Alnmouth Beach Car Park | Directions – Anti-clockwise on our Alnmouth Walk Map
This lovely short circular walk not only explores some fine coastline but also visits the charming village of Alnmouth. Stuck out into the River Aln estuary it’s a mix of grand old houses peeking over dunes, coloured facades shimmering in the sun and fishing boats idling in the natural harbour.
The high street is a blast of old England with a lovely church, a quaint old post office and a couple of good pubs. Scott’s of Alnmouth provides all the tasty deli items you would need to create a wonderful picnic to take on the walk with you. They also work with Lindisfarne’s Pilgrim Coffee, but unfortunately, they don’t make it with the same dedication as the chaps on Lindisfarne so skip the coffee.
OUR ALNMOUTH WALK TIP
Not so much a tip as it is a necessity. Sadly, you cannot swim in the sea here as the River Aln has way too much sewage in it.
7 – WARKWORTH CASTLE WALK
Difficulty – Easy | Distance – 4 kilometres | Time – 1 hour 10 minutes | Start – Warkworth Castle Car Park | Directions – Clockwise on our Warkworth Walk Map
The short circular walk to Warkworth Castle is not on the Northumberland Coastal Path but given that it’s such a lovely exploration of an old market town, we decided to include it.
The River Coquet is a lazy winding stream as it heads to the coast. Wedged into one of its u-shaped loops, high up on the hill, is Warkworth Castle. Once home to the Dukes of Northumberland this now-ruined medieval castle keeps watch over the town.
This lovely stroll starts at the castle, heads over fields, and drops down to the river. You can take a quick optional detour on a (rather pricey) ferry to explore a hermitage (cave in the wall), before continuing along the riverside path.
The views up to the castle are magnificent but before long you arrive in the market town. A charming church and a fine stone bridge sit amongst the cherry blossoms which are in full bloom in May. There’s a couple of pubs for a ‘barely deserved’ rest at the end.
It would be lovely if you could join this walk-up with the Alnmouth Circular nearby. Sadly, there is no path over the estuary, making it a long walk around on a rather busy and uninspiring road.
WARKWORTH CASTLE TIPS
The River Coquet is a beautiful winding river with excellent views up the castle and the perfect spot for a bit of stand-up paddleboarding.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USING OUR NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL WALKS MAPS
We have included all our Northumberland Coastal Walks on the below map, however, each of the specific route instructions are on the maps linked under each walk.
HOW TO GET AROUND THE NORTHUMBERLAND COAST
The best way to get to these Northumberland Coastal walks is to drive. They are all conveniently located on a 45-minute stretch of the A1 between Lindisfarne in the north and Warkworth Castle in the south. If you need to hire a car for the journey, we recommend Auto Europe.
Car parks are spread throughout Northumberland in convenient locations for many of these walks. Parking costs can add up along the coast, however, most parking areas use Pay By Phone so you don’t need to have a load of coins with you.
There is a very helpful bus service that connects many of the best sections of the Northumberland Coastal Path. The 418 runs every two hours (although not on Sunday) connecting Berwick on Tweed with Bamburgh, Seahouses, Beadnell, High Newton, Embleton, Dunstan, Craster, Howick and Alnwick.
The X18 is hourly and connects Alnwick, Alnmouth and Warkworth with Newcastle in the south and Berwick-upon-Tweed in the north.
A fast train service operates along the east coast with 15 services per day. Journey time is around 3 hours and 30 minutes from London to Berwick-upon-Tweed, making the train a great option to explore the Northumberland coast. Check prices and times on The Train Line.
WHERE TO STAY ON NORTHUMBERLAND COAST
If you are exploring the Northumberland Coast without a car, we recommend staying in Alnwick which has convenient buses to the nearby villages and a great walk right from the centre of town.
You can find all our favourite places to stay on our best Northumberland hotels post. But if you are focused on hiking here are some particularly well-located areas ideal for exploring the Northumberland Coastal Path.
Good budget self-catering apartments right in the centre of Alnwick from where buses leave to all over the Northumberland Coast.
NEWTON BY THE SEA
A charming pub in the village of Newton by the Sea, the food is excellent, and it’s well located near magnificent beaches and Dunstanburgh Castle.
A Grand old hotel with a beautifully designed interior that is high on style and low on stuffiness. It’s a stone’s throw from Alnwick Castle so you’re well located to explore the area.
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