Newest Review: ... newsagent, bakery, petrol garage, pet shop etc. There are also a number of souvenir type shops, such as The National Trust Shop. All of... more
Wild Northumberland at its very best
Member Name: dee778
Advantages: Beautiful beach, fascinating wildlife, great fish and chips
At first sight, Seahouses has none of the charm of the more traditional seaside resort - it is not pretty, it is not quaint, it has no tumbledown fishermens cottages. As you drive into the village, the square concrete 1960s architecture hits you like a slap in the face - all you notice is the tattoo parlour and the five big and brassy fish and chip shops. But Seahouses has much more to offer - it is a real working village, not just a pretty tourist enclave; the place just grows on you and you quickly find that it has a charm all of its own.
~~The Farne Islands~~
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Seahouses is its location, just opposite the Farne Islands. The Islands are constantly in view, with the Longstone Lighthouse winking back to shore at night, and small boats chugging back and forth with their cargo of sightseers.
The Farne Islands are owned by the National Trust, and members can disembark and explore free of charge. Today this collection of dramatic rocks is loved by tourists for the puffin colony that produces offspring every year. It is rare to see puffins in this country, but between the months of May and July a large number of puffin chicks are born and can be seen at very close quarters before they leave the islands and head out to sea. Another very endearing inhabitant of the islands is the grey seal. The islands are home to Europe's largest grey seal colony, and literally hundreds of seal cubs can be seen at close quarters, while adults swim right up to the boats. Shags, tern and guillemot are amongst the other birds that can be seen in this unusual nature reserve.
The Farne Islands fascinating past includes having the hermit St Cuthbert spend most of his life in a small shack on Inner Farne, as well as being the dramatic setting for Grace Darling's daring rescue in 1838, which made her a much loved national heroine.
Boats that go out to the Farne Islands several times a day, taking visitors for a round trip or letting them land on the islands. The most popular of these is Billy Shiels MBE, who has a fleet of different sized boats, and charges £12 to take an adult for a 2 ½ hour trip to Inner Farne.
Northumberland boasts some of the finest beaches in England, and Seahouses is no exception. To the north, the huge sandy beach stretches out all the way to Bamburgh Castle, which looms on the clifftop in the distance, the white crested waves breaking on the rocks below. A network of dunes run behind the beach, and walking up to Bamburgh with the brisk North Sea wind in your face and the sound of crashing breakers is one of the best feelings in the world.
The beach is usually fairly deserted, even in summer, and walkers share the beautiful isolation with the occasional horse riders from the local Seahouses stables. There are few surfers, and none of the usual pedalos and beach furniture. This is truly a wild beach, and one of Seahouses greatest attractions.
Sitting beside the bustling harbour, walking out along the jetty and waving to the little boats chugging off to the Farne Islands is something that can while away the day very easily. Seahouses has a circular Heritage trail that takes the visitor around the older properties and the smokehouses, giving a flavour of the fishing community that existed before tourism took over.
The north side of the village holds the obligatory crazy golf course, and the stables lie ½ mile outside the village, offering both beach rides and hacks.
During the summer diving trips go out to the Farne Islands, and fishing in such a location is always on the menu!
The centre of Seahouses has a run down feel at the moment, perhaps a victim of the recession. A small supermarket does thriving business, as does the excellent local baker and two newsagents. There is a delicatessen, but this is sadly lacking in fresh produce, seeming only to contain cellophane wrapped cheeses and dry produce.
A couple of souvenir shops vie with the small amusement arcade for business, but the two most active outlets seem to be the National Trust shop and the tattoo parlour. I couldn't help but look at the local inhabitants and wonder what sort of tattooed illustrations lay beneath their puffer jackets!
Seahouses is the largest centre for tourism on this part of the Northumbrian coast, and as such has a wide variety of accommodation. Two of the best hotels are the Bamburgh Castle Inn; a modern building with views directly out onto the harbour and the the Farne Islands. An older and more traditional stop is The Olde Ship; accommodation above a very characterful old pub, dating from 1912, filled with seafaring memorabilia and looking out over the harbour. The Olde Ship is also a lovely place for lunch or an evening drink, as it has a roaring log fire and small alcoves for a cosy chat.
There is also a variety of self catering cottages, bookable through several agents including Northumberland Cottages, or through the Seahouses community website.
Caravaning is available at the Seafield Caravanning Park in the very centre of town, and camping is available in bit further north towards Bamburgh at Springhill Farm Caravan & Camping.
Seahouses is a beautiful and delightful holiday destination. It has the feel of a real, working village and contains unusual corners of real charm.
It is a place for the walker, the lover of wildlife, the birdwatcher. Its raw, wild beauty will enchant you and make you count the days until you can come back for more.
Summary: One of the most beautiful locations in England
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