5 favourite family things to do on a cottage holiday in Northumberland
As mentioned in an earlier blog, one of my family’s favourite UK holiday cottage destinations is Northumberland. My husband introduced me to this beautiful county as his family had holidayed on a farm there for many years. Since then we have holidayed there every year and I was even proposed to with a beautiful picnic hamper by a waterfall. Our holidays then would be spent going on lovely long walks. It’s a slightly different experience with the boys but they certainly have found their walking legs and recently managed a 6 mile walk fuelled by a very large picnic! We have now kitted the boys out with their own mini backpacks so they can help to carry the load! I have a very long list of things that as a family we love to do in Northumberland but here is our top 5 family things to do.
Cocklawburn Beach at Scremerston
This is usually the nearest beach to where we stay in our cottage in Northumberland and our favourite. It’s a quiet little beach with both sand and rock pools to enjoy. We have been to this beach at every time of year and it’s always fun. My children have been known to go paddling in the shallows in full splash suits until they get so cold that we just have to go home.
We went to Northumberland for the first time ever in August this year and managed an evening at Scremerston with fish and chips on the beach, football and races on the sand with me failing to beat the boys! There is no seaside café but you’ll always find an ice cream van at the top of the cliff.
Heatherslaw Light Railway
A firm favourite thing to do is travel on the Heatherslaw Light Railway, a 15” gauge steam railway running from Heatherslaw Mill to Etal Village. The journey there and back takes 50 minutes but we always go loaded with a picnic and my trusty thermos flask and stay a while to visit Etal. As soon as you arrive at Etal you are at the entrance of Etal Castle and my boys and various friends and relatives always clamber on to the cannons for a photo. Then a little stroll leads you down to the River Till. We always picnic on the side of the River Till in all kinds of weather but it’s a must!
St Cuthbert’s Cave
St Cuthbert’s Cave or renamed by us as “The Dragon Cave”. We’ve visited this cave a few times now and I think it’s somewhere that we’ll always return to. The walk there through the bright yellow gorse is beautiful at all times of year. The children love the excitement of reaching the woods and wondering what you’ll find and then seeing the big sandstone rocks and the mouth of the cave looming behind. The children’s imagination runs wild as we call them the dragon caves and they try and clamber up the huge rocks and eat their picnics in the most precarious of places! The walk is about a mile so very manageable for little legs!
A lovely day out is the walk from Craster, which is a village on the coast famous for its kippers. There are some good cafes and pubs there to stop for a lunch and of course you can try the local delicacy of a smoked kipper! Then fuelled and ready to go you can take a stroll to the dramatic medieval ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. The castle dates back to the 14th Century and was besieged during the Wars of the Roses during the 1460s and then left to crumble away. The kids will run along the coast path of the North Sea and if they’re lucky spotting seals on the way. The castle is a clear target ahead so they usually run along the path to get there. The boys have claimed a tower each as their own. You can climb up into the main part of the ruins and wander around the walls whilst always aware of the vastness of the sea and the crashing waves.
Climbing a hill (a small one) Humbleton Hill
The Northumberland scenery is breath-taking and the Cheviot Hills are an imposing backdrop. Before having children we climbed the tallest, The Cheviot (815m), Yeavering Bell (wild goats) and Windy Gyle (on the English-Scottish border). However, for the minute, we need to stick to the lower hills. We’ve stayed 3 times now in cottages in a lovely hamlet called High Humbleton which is at the foot of Humbleton Hill. The first time we stayed on the first morning we decided to climb the hill and my then 4 year old, Jack, was not at all happy and I must admit it was a bit of a struggle through the heather. Although our friends’ 4 year old daughter was the first one up! A few days later we realised that there was a nice grassy path that takes you to the top which was a lot easier – sorry Jack!
Reaching the top of the hill and straight in to the cairn for yet another picnic!