“ Address: South Buckton / Belford NE70 7PJ / Northumberland „
~Near and Farne~
When my husband decided he wanted to go to Lindisfarne during our June holiday we discovered that it's not a place where you can easily find affordable accommodation. The problem with Lindisfarne is that it's not exactly an island and not exactly part of the mainland. It's joined to the mainland by a causeway and for many hours of each day when the tide is in Lindisfarne is effectively cut off from the rest of the world. Since the accessible hours vary with the tides it can be a tricky place to visit and an even trickier place to stay. Get the timing a wee bit wrong and you can find yourself stuck on the island or unable to get to it and I don't want that kind of stress on my holiday.
He found a couple B&Bs on the island itself but I was not keen about being at the mercy of the tides. He found a place in Seahouses but I thought it looked a bit stuffy and old fashioned and it was quite a way away. And then by complete serendipity (which is a nice way of saying I can't remember how) we found South Buckton B&B. It took just one look at the photo on their website showing the house with Lindisfarne in the distance to persuade us to that this was where we wanted to go. Just imagine waking up in the morning, opening the curtains and there it is; the mystical and mysterious isle of Lindisfarne.
~Booking our Stay~
I emailed the owners, Carol and John Gordon, to ask if they had the double room with the view for the dates we needed and very quickly got a reply to say that the room was available and could be ours in return for paying one day up front to secure the booking. I got their bank details and transferred the money and all was fixed. And then, whilst the email was still 'warm' in my inbox, I started to panic. It's a dangerous thing to do but I googled the postcode and discovered to my horror that the room I'd just booked was in spitting distance of the main north-south road running up the east coast. I would have a view of Lindisfarne but also of the A1. I thought of my friend Sally who lives in a gorgeous little stone farmhouse on a farm that would be absolutely perfect if the M1 was not at the bottom of the garden. South Buckton was ten times closer to the road than Sally's farmhouse. Had I just made a horrible mistake?
My husband placated me with Google Earth which revealed that the road was far from the 3 lane highway I had feared. By the time the A1 reaches this part of the country it's a rather quiet road without too much traffic. My heart stopped racing and I decided that the deed was done, the place was booked so we'd better just get on with it. As it turned out, I worked myself into a tizzy completely needlessly.
I sent an email the day before we arrived to tell the Gordons our plan - that we'd probably arrive late afternoon and wanted to check that there would be someone around. They confirmed that there would be someone there and we left our hotel just north of Durham and headed up the coast towards the area. After doing our puffin trip it was about five thirty when we eventually rolled up at the B&B. I got slightly lost thanks to the Tom Tom and sailed straight past the entrance which lies straight off the A1. It wasn't a big deal to take the next turn and come back but I was glad the traffic wasn't heavier.
South Buckton is a large red brick house next to a farm and surrounded by fields. Once you're inside the house it's easy to forget that the A1 is on the doorstep. We were met by Carol who gave us a friendly welcome and showed us around after introducing us to her insane dog. She showed us the breakfast room and told us that we could use it as a lounge any time we wanted to, then took us upstairs to our room on the front of the house. The room was enormous and sure enough, the window overlooked Lindisfarne in one direction and Bamburgh Castle in the other. I could hardly take in the room itself for staring out of the window. One of the things that had made us hesitate to book South Buckton was that the rooms don't have an en suite bathroom - instead the three guest rooms share a bathroom and an additional toilet. Carol explained that we would be the only guests during our stay so this turned from potential issue into no issue at all and we felt really pleased at having the place all to ourselves.
Most of the house is decorated in very neutral colours - lots of magnolia walls, light brown carpets and no bright colours. Whilst it wouldn't be how I'd choose to decorate my house, I could see it was a good choice for a B&B colour scheme since you stand no chance of pleasing all the people all the time. Our room was superb and far and away better equipped than the two four-star hotels where we'd stayed the previous two nights. Not only was the room lovely and spacious and filled with light, but it also had far and away the best bed of our trip. Admittedly it was a four poster and a bit frilly, but that's no problem as I generally sleep with my eyes closed. The bed and most of the furniture in the room was a good serviceable pine and we had all we needed and a lot more. The bed had bedside units on both sides and these were big enough for my book, a water glass, my specs and everything else I needed. A dressing table was home to a good selection of tea and coffee supplies and a kettle as well as paperwork for us to order our breakfast for the next morning. A full length cheval mirror made for a nice touch and there was a large built in wardrobe as well as a wooden chest with a flat screen television on top offering plenty of channels.
My favourite feature was the big red sofa from which we could look at the view and the television. It was very comfortable and gave a welcome relief after four days of hotel rooms where we had to sit on the bed all the time. South Buckton has wi fi which is free to use and which came in very welcome after some tricky hotel connections although we did get a power cut which knocked out the router on the first evening and encouraged us to go to bed early.
The shared bathroom was a large one with a shower over the bath and sink and toilet. The second toilet was in the room next door and left me a bit baffled by having no sink unit, meaning I had to go back to the main bathroom to wash my hands. If I were to offer one single point of potential improvement on South Buckton it would be to add a small sink in the smallest room.
~Breakfast like Royalty~
After sleeping like dead people, we rolled downstairs the next morning to get our breakfast. Carol's husband John does breakfast duty and he's very good at it. We'd left out our sheet to say what we wanted the night before but John had waited to check what type of eggs I wanted before getting started on the cooking. This was fine as we had a chance to make the most of the fabulous thick, Greek yoghurt and fresh berries as well as juice and cereals whilst he cooked up a storm in the kitchen. After four days of big hotel fry ups I asked if there was any chance to just get a couple of soft boiled eggs even though they weren't on the options list.
John and Carol Gordon are the perfect hosts. They left us to do what we wanted but were happy to chat and advise on local tourist topics. They told us where we could go to get dinner, what times the causeway would be open and even offered that if we wanted a drink, John would run us up to the pub and come back later to get us. We didn't take advantage but it was a generous offer. We stayed for two nights and left feeling totally relaxed and recharged. Admittedly the weather put paid to the best of our million dollar view at times but you can't blame your hosts for bad weather.
On our last afternoon the farmer next door released his cows into the field which up to that point had been filled with sheep and their nursing lambs. We stood for a good half hour and watched in delight as the young bullocks galloped across the field, running laps around the perimeter and scattering sheep in their path. Most of them ran like Wayne Rooney on a good day and looked very funny indeed. Then they gathered by the hedge for us to inspect them out of the window. A room with a fabulous comfy bed, a fantastic breakfast, a view of Lindisfarne and the entertainment of a field full of frisky young bullocks. As the American Express adverts would say 'Priceless'.
And talking of price, which I suppose we must, our wonderful room cost us £65 per night including breakfast. Compared to staying on Lindisfarne or in Seahouses or Bamburgh or even going to the dodgy looking motel where we had dinner one night, it was an absolute bargain. It's never going to be cheap to stay in an area so popular with tourists and with so little available accommodation but I thought we got a fantastic deal.
The two other rooms at South Buckton were nice but not as nice as ours. There's another room on the front of the building which is much smaller but does have the view and a really nice room on the back of the house that doesn't have the Lindisfarne view but does have good views in the other direction. If you can get the room with the big view, then I would say you can't do better in the area at the price. If, like us, you can get the whole place to yourself it's even better.
John and Carol Gordon get 10 out of 10 for their beautifully presented property, their fantastic location, the free wi-fi and Johns amazing breakfasts. I can't recommend South Buckton and the Gordons highly enough.
Telephone: 01668 219748