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Northumberland's Beautiful Beaches by Paul Miles
Start from the car park north of the harbour in Seahouses, from where sightseeing boats head off to visit the Farne Islands, uninhabited but for thousands of puffins in summer.
Amble along the wide, sandy strand towards Bamburgh Castle, which stands sentinel on a basalt outcrop. A strategic stronghold to various warlords over the centuries, the castle was the royal seat of the kings of Northumbria until it was ransacked by the vikings in the 10th century, and promptly invaded by William the Conqueror.
At high spring tides, it may be necessary to clamber over St Aidan’s Dunes, named after the saint who came here in the 7th century to establish the monastery at nearby Lindisfarne. The dunes’ marram grass is like golden brushwork and, at the water’s edge, oyster catchers and dunlin are easy to spot.
Before you are level with the castle, head inland towards a small car park, where you can pick up the Northumberland Coast Path. (The castle, now privately owned, is open to the public should you choose to make a diversion there first.) Follow the car park exit onto the road and turn left. After 300 yards, the official coast path, signposted with a blue italic “N”, enters fields to the right. If it is too muddy here, continue on the pavement past the wooden holiday homes and turn right up a track towards a property called Red Barn to rejoin the coast path, where it cuts across the driveway and in front of the house.
Walk through gentle farmland with the sea and islands visible in the distance to your left. A farm track leads to more pasture and crop land, from where you climb over a stone wall into the village of North Sunderland. Turn right then left onto a cycle track back to the start, where you can tuck into superlative fish and chips at Pinnacles Fish Restaurant.