Bamburgh is situated on the beautiful coast of Northumberland. Dominated by its mighty castle (once the seat of the Kings of Northumbria), it has a wealth of attractions, and is a great base for exploring the countryside and coast. It is only 50 miles from Newcastle, easily reached from the A1, but far enough away to remain a tranquil destination. As a coastal area it has long sandy beaches and sweeping sand dunes, but its western boundary encompasses farm land and attractive stone walled farmhouses and outbuildings.
Bamburgh (from ‘Bebbanburgh) was named by King Aethelfrith after his wife Bebba, probably in the latter part of the seventh century.
Here are just a few of the attractions at Bamburgh:
Rebuilt by the Normans, it was occupied by Henry V1 during the Wars of the Roses, and was destroyed in 1464 by artillery. It was restored later by various owners, including the Bishop of Durham, and also by the Armstrong family, who still live there. William Armstrong was the famous Victorian industrialist, responsible for many engineering innovations. It’s a fascinating place to visit, with its panoramic views over the North Sea and towards the island of Lindisfarne. There are sixteen rooms open to the public, and you can see the armoury, scullery, and rooms devoted to porcelain, pictures and furniture. Then there’s the Clock Tower tearooms for a drink or a snack after a few hours sightseeing.
Grace Darling was a young woman of 24 in 1838, when she rowed out to sea with her father (Keeper of the Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands) to rescue survivors of the SS Forfarshire. The sea was too rough for the lifeboat to go out from Seahouses, so she and her father went out in a small rowing boat. They rescued five people from the wrecked ship. Grace became a national heroine, but died from tuberculosis at the age of 26.
The Grace Darling Museum is opposite St Aidan’s Church, where she is buried in the churchyard.
St Aidan’s Church
St Aiden came to England from Iona at the request of Oswald, King of Northumbria, and it is probable that the wooden church built by him in 635AD stood on this site. Nothing of that church remains except, it is said, a wooden beam which is over the font. It is thought that it had no structural use, but was part of the canopy under which Oswald died. It was mentioned by the Venerable Bede in his Chronicles and has survived two fires.
Things to do in and around Bamburgh
Bamburgh lies within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and it is very obvious why it is called that when you get there! 64 miles (103 km) of the Northumberland Coast Path runs from Cresswell to Berwick upon Tweed through Bamburgh. It takes about five or six days to walk it, but the route is quite level and clearly signposted. It’s a great way to see two of Northumberland’s amazing castles; not only Bamburgh, but also Dunstanburgh. You can walk this route in either direction, but be very aware of the tides – you’ll be walking on the beaches, and sometimes it’s wise to do this only at low tide. There are alternative ways through the dunes, though.
Perhaps you prefer cycling, in which case there is a 21 mile (approx 33.79 km) cycle route, taking you inland first; southwest from Bamburgh and then south, taking in Burton, Elford, Swinhoe, West Fleetham and Brunton, then at Embleton heading east and north, covering on the coastal section Low Newton by the Sea, Beadnell, Seahouses and then coming back to Bamburgh. This latter part also has off road areas.
So, no matter whether your interests lie with energetic pursuits, an interest in history, or simply lovely scenery, Bamburgh has something for you.